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0615 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 615 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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See. iii]   FROM KHOTAN TO LONDON   519

I made short halts at the provincial capitals of Margilan and Samarkand, where I was favoured with much attention by Generals Tchaikovsky and Medinsky, the respective governors, and offered special opportunities for examining the interesting antiquities collected in the local museums.

The few but delightful days which I spent at Samarkand, the Delhi of old Sogdiana, mainly in visits to the great monuments of architecture of Timiir's period, were unfortunately too short to permit of more than a glimpse of the important ancient site known as Afriisiyâb, which undoubtedly marks the position of the capital in pre-Muhammadan times. The conditions in which fragments of ancient pottery and similar hard débris are found here under layers of alluvium distinctly recalled my observations at Yôtkan. The incentive of regular finds of gold being absent here, the working of the old culture-strata does not appear to be carried on with the same thoroughness as at Yôtkan, while their extent is probably far greater. Some interesting pieces of ornamented terra-cotta from this site which I was able to acquire will be found reproduced in Plate LXXXVIII, and described in the note below 2. Among them the large modelled ornament in relief (S. oot) shows a design of remarkably fine conception, and

Antiquities at Samarkand.

It is noteworthy that among the seven pieces of decorated terra-cotta from Afrasiyab which I was able to hunt up in the Samarkand Bazars, four are fragments of ornamented tiles either modelled or moulded. No remains of this kind seem ever to be found at Yôtkan ; their presence among the débris layers of ancient Samarkand is significant, in view of the high artistic development which the production of moulded and enamelled tiles attained here in the period of Moghul grandeur.

S. ooi. Modelled terra-cotta string' ornament in relief, roughly executed, but of fine design. A bold nebulée moulding meanders horizontally along the face of the tile, crimped with rough thumb and finger ' work ; in the hollow of each downward bend, applique; a female head of a Madonna-like type, draped and looking upwards. A leaflike border made by rapid incisions of a blunt modelling tool is indicated near the upper edge, and similar incisions are scattered over the ground below the nebulée. The vertical transverse section is L-shaped, the horizontal member of the L seeming to be constructed for building into a vertical wall or other surface. Broken into three pieces. Length zo ", breadth 7y, depth (front to back) i ". See Pl. LXXXVIII.

  1.  Modelled terra-cotta architectural tile. On a projecting moulding stands a bird in relief with spread tail indicated on background by a few incised strokes of a modelling stick. Ground R. and L. of bird powdered with slightly depressed circular markings ; below the moulding, plain. Small fragment, broken at all edges. Height 6", width 5", thickness g". See Pl. LXXXVIII.

  2.  Terra-cotta fragment in low relief, of moulded tile, representing head and half the body of a pigeon, wearing a ring round the neck. A curved line in relief arches over the pigeon and rests at its visible end upon a system of quarries in raised outline, in the centre of each of which is a four-petalled flower, also raised. From the arched line above spring a few leaves. Two quarries are

also visible over the back of the bird. Height 3 ", width zk", thickness }i". See Pl. LXXXVIII.

  1.  Terra-cotta fragment of moulded border in low arabesque ornament, representing a grotesque bird to L. p., pecking at a bush. Flat mouldings above and below. Well designed. Length zâ", width 21", thickness r. See PL LXXXVIII.

S. ocs. Terra-cotta fragment of handle of vessel, impressed with a device in cameo representing within a circular border of depressed bead-like dots a seated lion to L., the upward curved tail dividing into three leaf-like points at tip. Mouth slightly open and tongue visible. Claws rather bird-like. It is quite a good heraldic lion. In front of lion three discs disposed triangularly. Width z*", depth II-, thickness â". See PL LXXXVIII.

S. ooh. Terra-cotta fragment of grotesque animal, probably forming part of handle of a vessel. Legs missing, but there seem to have been four. Round projecting snout ; prominent eyes ; erect short-cropped mane, curving slightly over at forehead. There seems to have been a kind of saddle, and possibly a rider, as the upper part of saddle presents a broken surface. Width i~", height 2e", thickness Ir. See Pl. LXXXVIII.

S. 007. Terra-cotta figurine, roughly modelled, of a Silâr player. Head and feet missing. It seems to be clothed in two kurtas, the upper one hanging almost as low as the ankles, and the upper, which has sleeves, coming to about the knees. Round neck a necklace. Sitar held in usual way, and R. hand seems to be plucking the strings. Potter's thumb mark is clearly visible on back, showing how the clay was pressed into the mould. After being turned out of the mould it has been trimmed with a cutting instrument, and is brushed over with a finer clay, giving an egg-shell gloss to the surface. Height 4r, width z ", thickness xj". See Pl. LXXXVIII.