Stein, Aurel, Serindia: Detailed Report of Exploration in Central Asia and Westernmost China Carried Out and Described Under the Orders of H.M Indian Government , 5 vols (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1921), vol. III, p. 1243.
Stein Textile Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India.
Fragment of hand-knotted creamy brown woollen pile on wool warp and weft lined with felt.
Length: 52.9 cm, Width: 27.4 cm
Karadong lies south of Kucha on the northern Silk Road. On his first visit, Stein found the remains of timber dwellings atop an earthen rampart and concluded that the site had once been a frontier post. Artefacts unearthed there, including copper coins from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), suggested that it had flourished during this period. When Stein visited Karadong a second time, he discovered three dwellings, furniture, and household utensils, along with two irrigation canals; evidence that the site had been an oasis town, not an isolated fort. The V&A holds, on loan, from Karadong carpet fragments, silk, woven plant fibres, and spun wool, dating from 200-300 AD.
Stein suggests that the fragment may originally have been part of a felt-lined carpet or coat.
Fragment of carpet made of hand-knotted creamy brown woollen pile on cream-coloured wool warp and weft. The knotted pile has been worn away, but would originally have been long enough to cover the wefts in between the rows of knots. The other side shows remains of original layer of felted cream and brown wool, attached to the textile with string made of hemp.
This fragment of a woollen pile carpet was originally lined with felted wool of which only patches remain today. It was recovered from the site of Karadong, possibly a fortified frontier post, which dates from the 3rd to the 4th century AD. Textiles from Karadong are of a utilitarian rather than decorative type.
The site is also part of an area of Central Asia we now call the Silk Road, a series of overland trade routes that crossed Asia from China to Europe. The most notable item traded was silk. Camels and horses were used as pack animals and merchants passed the goods from oasis to oasis. The Silk Road was also important for the exchange of ideas. Whilst silk textiles travelled west from China, Buddhism entered China from India in this way.
This textile was brought back from Central Asia by the explorer and archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862-1943). The V&A has around 650 ancient and medieval textiles recovered from the Silk Road by Stein at the beginning of the20th century. Some are silk while others are made from the wool of a variety of different animals