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Dunhuang art -- Silk altar valance

 ps206936a_l.jpg5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

From Cave 17, Mogao, near Dunhuang, Gansu province, China
Tang Dynasty, 8th-9th century AD
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Silk valances liek this were originally used on the altars of Buddhist temples, as represented on some of the wall paintings at Dunhuang. This example, which is missing a few streamers at the right end, is the most complete of three that were found in Cave 17. It was made from over 56 fragments of fabric stitched together. It includes 16 varieties of plain or figured silk, 3 different embroideries, as well as printed silk.5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

The valance is composed of three distinct components:5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

(a) A broad band with hanging loops at the top comprising pieces of white silk, pink damask, plain blue and red silk.5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

(b) Triangular tabs with streamers attached behind. Some of the streamers are knotted while others are attached to tassels, rosettes or stuffed silk figures. There are forty-two pieces in this section.5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

(c) Ten large panels forming a background of plain and figured silks in yellow, cream, white and green.5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

Like the foliated embroidered silk panel from Cave 17, this might have been another instance where materials were reused. Stein had thought that the little stuffed figures on some of the streamers were previously used as votive offerings by people hoping to have children.5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

M. Aurel Stein, Serindia: detailed report of e, 5 vols. (Oxford, 1921)5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

R. Whitfield, Art of Central Asia: The Stein, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha International Ltd., 1982-85)5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

R. Whitfield and A. Farrer, Caves of the thousand Buddhas: (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

 5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

 5rNSilk Road Adventure & Private Tours - Silk Road China Tours

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