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0158 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 158 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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with the one which is used for the same purpose in the banner stuff of the Mikado Shomu (d. A. D. 749) 29 and found also, with slight variations, in quite a number of our Chien-fo-tung fabrics.33 The leaves and flower cones which appear within the remaining top portion of the medallion are of exactly the same type as those of the tree often seen in the background of Chien-fo-tung paintings of the ` Western Paradise ' or as those decorating the canopies painted over principal figures in the frescoes of the ` Caves of the Thousand Buddhas '.31 A similar tree figures also within the medallion of the above-mentioned banner stuff from Nara.

Chinese and   The details of the design in the same stuff enable us to treat the figured silk from the face-


cover ix. 2. 022 (Pl. LXXVIII) as also belonging to this group ; for the rosettes surrounded by

bined.      pearl borders and placed in rows, which form the main feature of the pattern, are very closely
allied to those which in the Nara fabric appear in the centre of the spandrels, while the geometrical rosette formed of four palmette leaves, which in our silk fills the spandrels, has its near relations in stylized floral ornaments used there, as well as in certain Chien-fo-tung silks.32 Finally we have a very curious combination of Sasanian and Chinese motifs in the fragment of a figured silk, ix. 3. 03 (Pl. LXXVIII), designed in bands. The topmost motif shows pairs of confronting phoenixes between acanthus scrolls, treated in Chinese style. Below this follow two bands of rectangular billets, alternately yellow and blue, arranged just as they appear in the same colours on ancient Chinese silks from the Tun-huang Limes and Lou-lan.33 After a second pair of such bands, separated from the first by a row of lozenges, there comes a band composed of ` Sasanian ' medallions each containing an eight-petalled flower, with palmettes in the spandrels. With the exception of this unmistakably Western motif the whole design adheres closely to the early Chinese style of textile decoration as illustrated by the Han specimens quoted. Yet the weave of the fabric is twill, as opposed to the ` warp-rib ' which is exclusively used in the latter. We can scarcely be wrong in assigning the instructive fragment to a period of transition, when Chinese textile craftsmanship had departed from tradition in weave for the sake of a more convenient technique, but in design allowed only a subordinate role to the characteristic motif of the new style, the medallion.

Designs   Our review of the other main class of designs, those either distinctively Chinese in style or
distinctively else showing no sign of the influence of ` Sasanian ' motifs, may suitably start with those which


adhere very closely to the designs of our earliest known Chinese figured silks, as illustrated by the

finds from Lou-lan. The number of such polychrome figured silks is not large, but it is important to note that the indication of early production afforded by their style of design is fully supported by their technique, which is ` warp-rib '. It is also, perhaps, significant that they were not found in face-covers, but only among the rags of worn clothing used for the wrapping of the bodies or, in the case of ii. I. 022 (Pl. XCIII), for making up model shoes. The motifs in this silk, as well as in vi. 2. 04 (Pl. XXXVI) and vi. I. 03 (Pl. LXXX), comprise fantastic highly stylized forms of animals, shown in movement one behind the other, just as they appear in the most striking of the Lou-lan silks, as well as very free cloud scrolls, of which the Lou-lan fabrics provide numerous examples.34

But the characteristic quasi-archaic style which marks off these specimens from the rest of the Astàna silks is best observed, perhaps, in vi. 02 (Pl. LXXVIII), a comparatively large and well-preserved piece. Pairs of confronting stork-like forms, in stiff angular treatment, are set in alternat-

29 See v. Falke, loc. cit., i. Fig. Iio.   32 Cf. Serindia, iv. PI. CVI (Ch. liv. oo3), CVIII (Ch. lv.

39 See Serindia, iv. PI. CVI (Ch. liv. oos), CVII-CVIII,   0028. 15), CXI (Ch. 00171), and ii. p. 972•

CXVI. A (Ch. 00181), &c.   33 See ibid., iv. Pl. LV, T.xv.a.0o2.a; above, i. pp. 226 sq.,

31 See e. g. Th. Buddhas, Pl. X, XI ; Serindia, ii. Figs. 213,   241 ; L.C. 031. b, Pl. XXXV, XLIi.

218.   34 Cf. above, i. pp. 236 sq., 240.

Chinese design of quasi-archaic style.