China, Eastern, 11th-12th century
tapestry, silk and gold thread, Overall: 58 x 27.2 cm (22 13/16 x 10 11/16 in.). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1988.100
The design of this Central Asian tapestry is a synthesis of Western and Chinese elements. Bands of pearls and split palmettes and the deer with mushroom-shaped antlers originated in Iran and Sogdiana but migrated to China during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Although these motifs disappeared from Chinese art after the fall of the Tang, they survived in Central Asia for centuries. The dragon is Chinese in origin, but has a Central Asian form (particularly its extended snout). Also characteristic of Central Asia are the placement of the dragon among flowers, the liveliness of the animals, the use of floral sprays of varying scale and species, and the brilliant colors. The combination of unrelated patterns (bands of tigers chasing deer next to the dragon among flowers) probably evolved from the ancient practice of applying borders to garments with contrasting designs.
CMA, October 26, 1997 - January 4, 1998: "When Silk Was Gold: Central Asian and Chinese Textiles," catalogue number 14, pp. 66-69, reproduced in color, p. 67
Also to: New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 3 - May 17, 1998
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