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: Clarendon Press, 1921), vol. I, p.479.
Stein Textile Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India.
8th century (made)
Bundle of yellow woollen yarn
Diameter: 8.8 cm
The Miran fort lies midway along southern Silk Road, at the foot of the Kunlun Mountains. When Tibetan troops occupied the area in the late eight century AD, they built the fort to guard one of many routes through which they moved into Central Asia. In 1907, Stein excavated rubbish heaps at the fort and found wood slips, dating from the eight to the ninth century AD, which provided early examples of Tibetan writing. He also found fragments of wool rugs in bright colours and pieces of silk. The V&A holds a large number of textiles from the Miran Fort on loan, including spun wool, pattern and plain woven silk and wool, woven and spun hemp, woven horsehair, cords and painted silk.
Attached to bundle is a circular metal-rimmed label showing Stein number possibly in Stein's handwriting or that of his assistant, Miss F M G Lorimer.
This textile bundle is of spun yellow wool yarn of various lengths. It was recovered from the site of Miran Fort on the eastern verge of the Taklamakan desert. At this site material was discovered in the remains of a fort held by the Tibetans during their domination of the southern Taklamakan in 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 the 20th century. Some are silk while others are made from the wool of a variety of different animals.