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0404 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 404 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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details recorded in the inventory entry (N. vii. 3) below make it unnecessary to describe here at length this very interesting specimen of ancient textile industry. Its arrangement of transverse stripes and bands, and its decoration with simple geometrical patterns, show a remarkably close approach to the type of the Indian Darrie' as it exists at present. The harmoniously blended colours are also such as are familiar to those acquainted with the cotton floor coverings in ordinary use throughout India. The Svastika-like pattern which appears in all the broad stripes, and the Stûpa-like ornament, of which a portion (in green) is visible at the bottom of the red stripe, are unmistakably Indian in design, and in combination with the general make of the rug justify the conclusion that not only the sculptural and pictorial arts of Khotan, but also the more decorative branches of its textile industry had from an early date received their models from India. The brightness of the colouring has remained in all pieces of the rug, in spite of the long use proved by their torn condition and the numerous traces of mending and patching.

But the most thorough proof of the dominating influence which Indian art exercised on the industries represented in this ancient settlement was furnished by the ornamental woodcarving of the chair (N. vii. 4) reproduced in Plate LXVIII. Its pieces, though disjointed, lay close together on the floor of the half-eroded outer room north of N. vii. where they had been noticed by me on my first arrival. It was fortunate that the pieces (reproduced in the photograph, Plate VI I I, before I had realized how they fitted together) had fallen with their carved faces towards the ground ; else their elaborate carvings could not have remained in such good preservation after progressive erosion had removed the sand which once protected them. One of the four broad carved panels which were tenoned into the legs of the chair and held them together was missing. But even without this the whole can still be made to stand upright by itself as seen in Plate LXVIII and in the show case of the British Museum. The height of the legs is 23 in. and the width of the chair (approx.) 26 in. The shorter end panels are still firmly retained between their respective pair of legs by wooden pegs passing through the dowels and tenons, while the long front panel has got detached and, owing to warping and fissures, no longer fits its dowels exactly. The great interest of this ancient piece of furniture lies in its ornamental carving, which shows the closest resemblance to decorative motives familiar from Gandhâra reliefs. Referring for all details of the carving to the description given in the list, I may point out that the four-petalled flower of a shape closely approaching the large purple clematis, which forms its most frequent feature, is well known in Gandhâra sculptures. We find it there either complete and enclosed in squares forming ornamental bands, or else halved and placed within triangular spaces just as seen on the panels and legs of the chair'. The zigzag arrangement of these halved flowers has also its exact parallel there. The eight-petalled lotus is unmistakably Indian, while the central ornament of the front panel, with its conventionalized fruit (pomegranate ?) and leaves, recalls decorative elements on certain Indo-Corinthian capitals.

This close agreement with decorative motives found in Gandhâra sculptures of the first centuries of our era was welcomed by me from the first as valuable confirmation of the chronological evidence deducible from the Kharosthi writing of the tablets. In another direction, too, this piece of ancient art furniture serves as useful testimony. Though not of intrinsic value in its material, and on that account no doubt left behind when the dwelling was abandoned, it yet shows by its workmanship that those who once lived here were people in affluent circum-

Ancient carved chair from N. III.

Character of ruined residence, N. III.

' Comp., e. g. the sculptures from Loriyân-Tangai, reproduced by Foucher, L'Art du Gandhdra, i. Fig. 313 ; Griinwedel-Burgess, Buddhist art, Fig. 94. To examples familiar

to me among the Gandhâra sculptures of the Lahore Museum I am unable to refer at present.