| || || || || || || || || || || |
466 RETURN TO THE MIRAN SITE [Chap. XII
M. T. iv. 0027 (Plate L) ; xiv. 0073; xx—xxi. 004 are specimens, suggest that fishing in the stream of Mix-an was once a more productive pursuit than it possibly could be at present, or else that lagoons formed by the dying Târim, corresponding to the present Kara-koshun marshes, approached nearer to the site than they do now. The bone plectrum, M. 1. iv. 0026, and the wooden bridge of a musical instrument, M. 1. viii. 0013 (cf. for both Appendix H), prove that the occupants of the dreary post were no strangers to the solace of music. That other amenities of life were not altogether missing in these crowded, filth-surrounded quarters is suggested by the fragments of wooden trays, bowls, and boxes decorated in lacquer (M. 1. ii. 0029, 0039 ; iv. 0030 ; viii. 0014 ; xxi. ooi). But the piece of a gourd-vessel repaired with felt, M. 1. ii. 0038 (Plate LI), plainly tells of a penurious existence, and an exceedingly filthy pigtail of coarsely-strung black hair found in M. 1. iv did not look as if its quondam owner had troubled to use the combs of wood and horn of which we recovered a fair number (M. 0017 ; I. i. 004, 0011, 0014 ; iii. 003 ; iv. 0028-29). Three wooden keys found, M. I. 0090 (Plate LI) ; viii. 005, 007, attest the continuance of a type already met with at Khâdalik and elsewhere in the Khotan region.6
But the most abundant class of relics, apart from written records, are pieces of coarse fabrics, mostly of wool, but some also of cotton and felt, which must mainly have belonged to the soldiers' personal outfit. The variety of texture is considerable in these fabrics, as shown by the specimens reproduced in Plate XLVIII. But all are woven strongly and skilfully, and their colours are well preserved, dark browns and reds prevailing. It is significant that not a rag had found its way into the rubbish until it had become hopeless for use. The same is the case with the fragments of elaborately woven rugs of which a selection is reproduced in Plate XLIX. Among their patterns those of M. 1. xxvi. ooi, 002 are of special interest as introducing animal figures of conventional but bold design not met with in the corresponding relics brought to light at the earlier sites of Niya and Lou-lan. There is something to suggest a vigorous growth of textile art which, in a people largely nomadic, may well go with otherwise primitive industrial conditions, as is proved by observations at the present day among such tribes as the Kirghiz, Turkomans, and Baltichs. Materials of an unusual kind are M. 1. iv. 0010 (Plate L) and xii. 007, well-woven gauzes of horsehair and cotton respectively, as analysed by Dr. Hanausek.
That torn pieces of silk were scarce among the refuse of the Mirân fort, compared with those found at the ruins of Lou-lan and the Tun-huang Limes, is a clear indication of the extent to which trade with China suffered through the Tibetan conquest of the Tarim Basin and the Kan-su borderlands in the last quarter of the eighth century A. D. Nevertheless, we meet among the few pieces with specimens of silk damask, M. 1. 0094 (Plate CXXI) ; i. 009 ; ii. 0035 ; xii. 005, no doubt of Chinese origin, and also with a fragment of figured silk, M. 1. viii. 0017 (Plate CXI), which is similar in style to the abundant specimens of figured silks recovered from the ` Thousand Buddhas' of Tun-huang. It also resembles in pattern a fragment of brocade, M.Tagh. a. iv. 00177, from the site of Mazar-tagh, north of Khotan, which dates back to the same period of Tibetan occupation.ßa
In M.1. xxvii. o01 we have a square of thick silk brocade with a delicate pattern of Chinese type, sewn up into a small triangular pouch. The larger bag, M.1. xxvii. 009, is made up of fine woollen material, with a striped design in rich colours. Better preserved than either of these is the bag of red silk, M. 0019 (Plate CX), embroidered in an elaborate chain-stitch design, which covers almost the whole of the background. The style curiously recalls the modern embroidery work of Eastern Turkestan. Of other made-up textile articles I may briefly mention the well-preserved felt pouch, M. 1. xiii. ooi. a (Plate L), which might have formed part of a soldier's equipment ; the leather pouch M. 1. 0076 (Plate L), and the quilted cloth shoe, M. 1. ii. 0025 (Plate L), covered with
6 See above, pp. T91 sq.; also below, chap. xxx. sec. iii. See below, chap. xxxix. sec. i.