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0331 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 331 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Figured Silks, which he published at my request in the Burlington Magazine of i9?o, has recorded the preliminary results that his examination of a number of characteristic specimens had yielded. With the help of the very careful illustrations drawn by Mr. Andrews' hand, it brings out clearly the essential features of the distinctly Chinese style displayed .by these fabrics, together with many important observations on the origin and development of the ornamental motifs used in them.

Numerous other pieces still await final cleaning 5a and full analysis of details by the experienced eye and hand of the same artist. But the data already furnished by him in the Descriptive List provide a sufficiently safe basis for the general review I propose to attempt in this place. Its object will be to offer succinct information on the technique of weaving observed in the silk fabrics of L.C. ; on the several methods of decoration used in them, and on the characteristic peculiarities of style which their designs exhibit. The observations on technique and style will allow me also to indicate certain evidence derivable from them which has an archaeological bearing and may incidentally help to define more closely the chronological limits for the textile remains of this site and for some recovered elsewhere.

As regards the weaving of the Lou-lan silks Mr. Andrews' investigation has brought out two

interesting facts. In the plain silks, i.e. those which show no decorative figuring, a variety of ` plain weave ' is always used, corresponding to what technically is

known as a. rib' or repp'.6 In this the weft threads being thicker than the

warp, a transverse ribbed effect is produced, more .or less pronounced as the relative thickness of the two threads is varied. In respect of the figured silks from L.C.

Mr. Andrews in his above-quoted paper has already noted the important fact that the

weave is, with the single exception of one loosely woven silk gauze, L.C. iii. 04. d, ` a variation of that technically known as " warp-rib ". It may be briefly described as

giving a ribbed appearance running across the fabric, due to the number of threads in the warp being greater per inch than that in the weft, and to a particular order of interweaving which is too technical to detail here, but which the diagram of the face of the cloth, greatly enlarged, may sufficiently explain. The figure or pattern

is formed by the warp threads and presents a kind of dull satin surface, faintly ribbed. 7 This character of the weave applies also to the rare ` damasks ' from L.C.

This exclusive use of the ` warp-rib ' in the Lou-lan figured silks assumes particular significance in view of the fact that ` twill ' weave, which would have been most useful and appropriate for the production of designs, whether in damasks or polychrome fabrics, is entirely absent from the large series of figured silks of L.C. Yet this ` most valuable of all weaves from the designer's point of view ', as Mr. Andrews has justly described it,8 is regularly met with in the great collection of Chinese figured silks recovered by me from the ` Caves of the Thousand Buddhas ' and is represented with equal abundance also among those brought to light by me from the tombs of Astâna. The fabrics of the latter site can be dated with certainty as belonging to the early Tang period.9 The same may safely be assumed of the great mass of the Chien-fo-tung fabrics in so far as they do not belong to the period intervening between the fall of the Tang dynasty, A.D. 907, and the final walling-up of their place of deposit, early in the eleventh century.'°

On the other side we have the important fact that all fragments of figured silks excavated by me on the Tun-huang Limes, two of them dating from the first century B. c., and the other not

sa [This has since been secured at the British Museum,   7 See Andrews, Chin. Fig. Silks, p. 19.

through the help of the Department of Prints and Drawings,   8 See Serindia, ii. p. 897, where the principle of twill

and under Mr. Andrews' supervision.]   weave is explained.

6 Cf. Andrews' ` Notes on the technique of textile fabrics ',   9 See below, Chap. xix. sec. v:

Serindia, ii. p. 897.   16 Cf. Serindia, ii. pp. 820, 827 sqq.

H h

Object of review of silk fabrics.

Weaves of silk stuffs.

Exclusive use of

` warp-rib' weave.

` Warp-rib ' weave of