Wilson, Verity. 'Early Textiles from Central Asia: Approaches to Study with reference to the Stein Loan Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London', Textile History 26 (1) . Devon: David & Charles/Pasold Research Fund Ltd, 1995, pp.23-52.
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. 1220.
Stein Textile Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India
Bundle of made-up objects and strips of different weaves, mostly in cream colour.
Length: 24.6 cm, Width: 13 cm
Mingoi is located in the foothills of the Tianshan mountain range, on the northern Silk Road. Over a hundred Buddhist cave temples lend the site its name Mingoi, "The Thousand Dwellings". Stein explored a number of shrines here and found remains of colossal statues, fantastic carvings in wood, paintings and stucco reliefs. Depicted on the walls of the caves were Buddha legends, garlands of flowers, swags and tassels, fantastic canopies and mythological beasts. Stein found much evidence that the site had been occupied during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) and Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Many Chinese coins, dating later than the eight century, had been left as votive offerings. Uygur manuscripts and graffiti indicated that the site had been occupied while the Uygurs controlled the region in the ninth to tenth century. A large amount of fallen brickwork appeared to have been hardened by burning; evidence that the site had been consumed in a large blaze in the second half of the tenth century. The caves also yielded much information about textiles of the period. Many statues were clothed in patterned and embroidered garments of Chinese silk. At their bases, Stein found votive rags of silk and linen. The V&A holds, on loan, several textiles from Mingoi, including plant fibres; plain and pattern woven silk, and also a number of terracotta heads of bodhisattva.
The bundle of fabrics are kept together by a string with a rectangular metal-rimmed label showing Stein number possibly in Stein's handwriting or that of his assistant, Miss F M G Lorimer.
Several different fragments bundled together, consisting of a majority of cream-coloured strips and five larger made-up pieces of unknown use. These larger fragments are rectangular, made of a double layer of silk, both plain weave and patterned weave, and plain woven cotton or unidentified plant fibre, with one long edge plain and the other edge shaped into three square tabs. The plain edge is provided with two loops and sides with tying strings. The strips, probably remains of similar objects, are made of plain woven cream-coloured and red silk and unidentified plant fibre, brown-yellow and red silk twill, and a few clamp-resist dyed fragments in green, blue and red silk. Some of these strips have remains of stitching and some are joined together.
This bundle consists of several strips of different materials and some made-up pieces of unknown use. These pieces are of double material and have been cut and stitched to form a three-tabbed edge. The bundle was recovered from the site of Mingoi, a Buddhist shrine which dates from the 4th to the 8th century AD.
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