Carpet Fragments Found in East Turkestan

Some forty years before the discovery of the Pazyryk carpet (1906,1908) Sir Marc Aurel Stein and Alfred von Le Coq found some knotted carpet fragments during their excavations in a grave shaft in Lou-lan and in a Buddhist stupa shrine at Lop-nor in East Turkestan. These pieces date from the 3rd to the history of carpet development.

Tle Lou-lan woole carpet fragment, an approximately square piece which measures 22.2 cm on each side ( P1.1) is now in the possesion of the British Museum, London. (The Museum of New Delhi, India also has other samples from this source) This square fragment was woven with natural, tough and sometimes five shoots of weft between each row of knots. In desıgn it consısts of diamonds and border bans with strongly stylized flowers of bright and vivid colors in three shades of yellow, dark blue, mat green and brown.

Later, in 1913, Le Coq brought to light other carpet fragments in a domed shrine chamber during the Turfan evcavations in the Tarim basin at Qyzil near Kuta in Chinese Turkestan. These fragments appear to have the same kind of wool and knots but contain additional single warp knots in single-ply wool on alternate warps. One fragment from the 5th or 6th century measures 16*26cm and contains a motif of a twisted stem or a dragon's tail in yellow which is outlined in black on a red field. It is now in the possesion of the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin.

The evidence of varying techniques and designs implies that extensive development had take place between this period and that of the earkiner long-pile carpets of the steepps. A direct link can only be established with examples from the first century BC and not with earlier pieces like the Pazyryk carpet. One must also assume however that the carpets found by Stein must have been imports sent from West Turkestan to East Turkestan since the tradiniotal carpets used in that area were made of felt.

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