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textile / 紡織品

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    MAS.911

  • Description

    This embroidered fragment shows a Buddha standing on a lotus pedestal, holding an alms bowl in his right hand. His body is enclosed within an almond-shaped aureole. His right hand is uncovered and his left hand gathers up his robe of oblong panels. The Buddha is embroidered on a plain woven dark brown silk with split stitch using colourful silk threads in blue, green, brown and yellow. The outlines of the motifs were originally made in gold strips, but most of these have disappeared, revealing a black substrate, probably made with an animal substance. This may be the earliest embroidery in which an animal substance was used as the backing for flat gilded threads.

    Weave structures:
    Warp: silk, untwisted, single, dark brown, 68 ends/cm; Weft: silk, untwisted, single, dark brown, 32 lats/cm. Weave structure: 1/1 plain weave.

    Threads: silk, S-2Z ply; Colour: blue, light blue, dark blue, green, brown, light brown and yellow etc., gold strip: c. 0.5mm wide, but with animal membrane.
    Stitch: split stitch, couching stitch.

    立佛繡像,以深棕色絹爲繡地,其上用藍、綠、褐、黃等各色絲線以劈針繡出圖案,並釘繡片金線以勾邊。大部分金箔已脫落,露出黑色背襯物,可能爲動物內臟薄膜或類似材料。如果屬實,此件刺繡應是國內所知織品中最早使用動物類物質作爲背襯的片金實物。
    佛像立於蓮花座上,身披由長方形圖案組成的袈裟,坦露右肩,右手持托缽,左手提起袈裟,身後以頭光及火焰狀背光裝飾。所有線條均很流暢,看不到刻意雕琢的痕迹。

    組織結構:
    經線:絲,無撚,單根排列,深棕色,68根/cm;緯線:絲,無撚,單根排列,深棕色,32根/cm;組織:1/1平紋。

    刺繡:
    繡線:絲,一般由兩根Z撚的絲線以S撚併合;色彩:淺藍、藍、深藍、綠、褐、淺褐、黃等色;片金線:約0.5mm寬,用動物內臟薄膜或其它動物材料作背襯。
    針法:鎖針、釘針

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 8thC(late)-9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 10.9 centimetres
    • Width: 6.2 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Although diminutive in comparison with the large composition of the Vulture Peak (Pl. 1), this is a fine work. The Buddha, holding an alms bowl in his right hand, stands full-face. His left hand gathers up his robe with exactly the same gesture seen in the previous embroidery; the robe itself, however, is worked in oblong panels, and the underrobe in stripes, without attempting any elaborate curves. All the outlines –of the Buddha, the nimbus, the mandorla and the flames that surround it – were originally done in gold leaf, which was mounted on paper and cut into very narrow strips and then couched in yellow silk thread. These couching stitches now show up very clearly against the dark paper strips, the gold leaf having largely fallen away. Like other embroideries in this collection, this one is worked on a gauze, probably of complex alternating type (see Pls. 21-26 and Glossary of Textile Terms, p. 345), which is further backed with a very fine plain silk. There supports are both dark purple. Gauze was chosen as a backing probably because its complex structure and ability to stretch eliminated the danger of cutting threads in the support through repeated minute stitches. It also helps to give more substance to the motifs being executed; in fact the whole piece is so tightly packed with stitches that it is quite stiff to handle.
    Another tiny embroidered Buddha, from Toyuk, was discovered by Le Coq and shown in New York in the 1982 exhibition Along the Ancient Silk Routes: Central Asian Art from the West Berlin State Museums, being dated eighth to ninth century A.D. in the catalogue (No. 144). Despite size and other points in common (such as the appearance of the hem of the robe as it crosses the shoulder and passes under the right arm, and the closely packed stitches which have been described as “totally cover [ing] the front and back of the fabric”), the Toyuk piece is less formal and hieratic than the one here; the stance is relaxed, and this is reflected in the folds of the robe, which are far more natural than the oblong panels in the Stein example. A piece of silk printed in the jiaxie technique is attached to the Toyuk Buddha, suggesting that it was one of several small Buddhas in the mandorla of a much larger figure. The Stein example may have served a similar purpose but is itself monumental in character despite its small size. The gold leaf of the paper strips, as well as the rich colour of the gauze beneath, must originally have given it added splendour.與上圖的大型作品《靈鷲山釋迦說法圖》(圖1)相比,雖然是極小的斷片,但卻是一件出色的作品。佛是右手持缽,正面而立。左手執襟和上圖的姿勢完全一樣。但是衲衣與上圖不同,由看似長方形紋樣連接而成,裏面是縞紋樣,完全看不出表現錯綜複雜曲線的意圖。佛和頭光、身光以及包圍它們的火焰光等的輪廓線所用的金葉,金裱在紙上,切成細絲,然後用黃色絹絲固定住。現在大部分金箔已剝落,黃色絹絲在發黑的紙的線上,清楚的浮現出來了。與其他刺繡品一樣,這個作品也繡在重疊著的薄絹(參見圖21~26,紡織品術語表,p. 345)和有眼平絹上。這兩片絹均是深胭脂色。製作刺繡時使用這種薄絹,可能是因結構複雜,並且有伸縮力,反復刺繡也不用擔心弄斷底線,也那可以有效地表現刺繡的厚重感。實際上,此斷片的刺繡密度很大,很結實。
    除此以外,勒柯克在吐峪溝發現的小型刺繡佛立像,1982年在紐約作爲“古代絲綢之路:西柏林國立博物館收藏的中亞美術品”展示时的目錄(No. 144)中,年代記爲8-9世紀。尺寸及其他方面大致相同(例如:從左肩繞到右腋下的衲衣邊的樣子,以及解說中的“帛的裏和面全都覆蓋”的細密繡法等),但吐峪溝的宗教色彩遠比此斷片淡薄,形式也自由。其姿態也很舒展,在其衲衣的褶線上也有體現,與此作品長方形紋樣相比,自然得多。吐峪溝的立佛上有夾纈染的絲綢,暗示著這可能是配在大佛曼陀羅背光上的幾身小佛中的一身。相比之下,本圖的像雖然是小像,但起作用是相同的。當初金葉的金箔與薄絹的絢麗色彩相互輝映,其華麗的程度一定更突出。

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  • Bibliography

    • Zhao 2007 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield & Farrer 1990 cat.no.99 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1921a p.1014; vol.IV, pl.CVI bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1985 pl.2 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1917

  • Acquisition notes

    The 1917-11-28 group (with MAS numbering) refers to objects from Stein's Second Central Asian Expedition, 1906-08. As the expedition was financed 3/ 5 by the Government of India and 2/5 by the British Museum, it was agreed that the finds from the expedition should be allocated in these proportions. All the finds were shipped to London for sorting, research and publication, and subsequent distribution. The distribution of the finds between London and India was determined by specialists, appointed by the Government of India (through the India Office, London) and the British Museum, who drew up lists of the objects for approval by both sides. The specialists included: Raphael Petrucci, under supervision of Dr E Denison Ross (nominated by India Office) and Lawrence Binyon (British Museum) on paintings; Dr F W Thomas, Dr E Denison Ross (both nominated by India Office) and Dr L D Barnett (British Museum) on manuscripts and written documents; Dr E Denison Ross (nominated by India Office) and Lawrence Binyon (British Museum) on archaeological/other finds. Although the lists were drawn up and approved in 1915, the Government of India asked the British Museum to look after the entire collection during the First World War, and those allocated to India were eventually shipped in 1919.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    MAS.911

  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.iv.002 (Stein no.)
Fragment of silk gauze backed with plain woven textile, embroidered in coloured silk with a standing Buddha with the right hand holding an alms bowl and the left hand gathering up the robe. The nimbus, mandorla and flames surrounding the Buddha were originally done in gold leaf mounted on paper and then cut into narrow strips and couched in yellow silk threads.

Fragment of silk gauze backed with plain woven textile, embroidered in coloured silk with a standing Buddha with the right hand holding an alms bowl and the left hand gathering up the robe. The nimbus, mandorla and flames surrounding the Buddha were originally done in gold leaf mounted on paper and then cut into narrow strips and couched in yellow silk threads.

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