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0156 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 156 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Boar's head in

` Sasanian' medallion.

` Sasanian ' borders enclosing plant motifs.


fragments. The preparation of these reproductions must necessarily wait until these often very delicate and friable relics of ancient textile art have received the careful technical treatment by expert hands in London of which many are much in need. Moreover Mr. Andrews, on whose detailed and experienced examination of all the textile materials my own observations are necessarily based, has for similar reasons not yet been able to complete [as he has done since] the descriptions of them for the List below. Nevertheless I hope that the brief notes here recorded will suffice to bring out the essential points of archaeological interest.

Among the designs of purely ` Sasanian ' style the most striking is that of the polychrome figured silk, fortunately well preserved, which is used for the face-cover Ast. i. 5. 03 (Pl. LXXVI). It shows a finely designed boar's head, highly stylized, within a circular border of pearls, typical of ` Sasanian ' medallions, and is a very powerful piece of work. The angular treatment of the head with stepped outlines connects this fabric very closely with a group of ` Sasanian ' fabrics which Professor von Falke has ascribed to the silk industry of Eastern Iran and which has some characteristic representatives also among the Chien-fo-tung silks.18 The popularity of this particular motif is attested by its recurring, in similar treatment but on a smaller scale, in the polychrome figured silks used for face-covers of two other bodies, Ast. i. 6. oi and ix. 2. 017, the burial of which is datable about A. D. 632 and in A. D. 689, respectively. Still more interesting is it to find the design of a boar's head, nearly identical in treatment and setting, used in the decorative painting of the ceiling of a Toyuk cave, reproduced by Professor Grünwedel and since completely destroyed.19 The use made of designs from ` Sasanian ' textiles for mural decoration is illustrated also by the painted frieze of a cave at the `Ming-oi' of Kizil, drawn and described by Professor Grünwedel and now in Berlin, which shows confronting ducks within the typical pearl medallions.20 With the

boar's head ' silks must be grouped also two other figured silks in Astana face-covers, v. 1. oi ; vii. I. 01 (Pl. LXXVII), which show the same ` stepped ' treatment of animal forms within ` Sasanian ' medallions but are too poorly preserved to permit of an accurate determination of their central motifs.

In two more silks from face-covers, i. 3. b. oi and ix. 2. 01 (Pl. LXXIX), we find ` Sasanian' pearl borders enclosing motifs treated in a similar though less pronounced angular fashion. In i. 3. b. oi it is a stylized grape vine, in ix. 2. oI a very angular flower. Both designs show at the cardinal points of the medallion borders rectangular spots which seem to connect them with Chinese imitations of ` Sasanian ' fabrics found both at Nara and Chien-fo-tung.21 With these two fabrics may be grouped also the figured silk piece from a face-cover, i. 1. oi (PI. LXXX), in which the design shows a conventional tree with leaves and flowers on either side within a circle of discs, though the central motif is of less angular treatment than in the previously noted designs. The ` Sasanian ' medallion border is the same as in the last two examples. Similarly we find here a label ornamented with small circles serving as a base for the central motif, just as it is seen in i. 3. b. oi and in the Persian ` duck stuff ' of the Vatican and the painted frieze of the Kizil ` Ming-oi '.22

18 Cf. v. Falke, Seidenweberei (first ed.), i. p. 98 sqq., Figs. 138-45 ; Serindia, ii. pp. 908 sq. (Pl. Cvi, Cxi, CXV).

19 See Griinwedel, Kultstätten, pp. 331 sq. In the decoration of the same Toyuk cave Dr. Klementz in 1898 had already noted another series of ` Sasanian ' medallions showing heads of cocks, executed in the same style ; see his Nachrichten fiber Turfan, pp. 45 sq. In some other remains of wall-paintings since lost he had also rightly recognized a nexus with the art of Western Asia ; cf. ibid., p. 44.

[The frieze with medallions showing boars' heads ' is

illustrated also in M. d'Oldenburg's Russian Turkestan Expedition, p. 5o, fig. 47.]

20 See Grünwedel, loc. cit., p. 79, Fig. 172. For a reproduction of this mural decoration, which in its motif and ornamental details shows a very close resemblance to the Vatican ` duck stuff ' of Persian origin, ascribed to the 7-8th century, see v. Falke, loc. cit., Figs. 99, loo.

21 See v. Falke, ibid., Figs. no, 11 r, 118 ; Serindia, iv. Pl. CXVI. a, Ch. 00291.

=2 See above, note 20.