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votive panel / 木板畫

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1907,1111.73

  • Description

    Rectangular votive panel painted on one side. Depicted is the legend of the introduction of sericulture to the regions of Khotan. The central figure is a Chinese princess who smuggled mulberry seeds and eggs of the silk moth to Khotan, hiding them in her head-dress. In front of her there is a basket full of cocoons. The figure on the left is probably a female attendant pointing to the hidden items in the head-dress, while the figure on the right appears to stand in front of a loom holding a weaver's comb. The four-armed deity seated cross-legged probably represents the God of Silk, who appears to hold in the hands a goblet, a weaver's comb and a shuttle. Painted in ink and colours on wood.

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  • Date

    • 6thC (Whitfield 1985)
    • 7thC-8thC (Ghose 2004)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 12 centimetres
    • Width: 46 centimetres
    • Depth: 2.2 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    This is one of the most arresting of the painted wooden plaques found by Stein at Dandan-oilik, all of which owe their fine state of preservation to the fact that they were placed above floor level. D.X at this site was a small cella with wall paintings of rows of small Buddha figures and a single stucco image, nothing of which remained, however, save the octagonal base, waisted in hourglass fashion, with a broad ledge at the bottom for offerings. The plaque was standing on end against one of the facets of the base.
    The figures are depicted, as in the fragments of wall painting from Khadalik, with the main features outlined in red, and the upper eyelids and eyebrows in black. Stein recognized the subject as the legend of the introduction of sericulture to Khotan. The central figure is the Chinese princess who, according to Xuanzang (Da Tang xiyu ji, Chapter 12), warned by the envoys that there was no means of raising silkworms or mulberry leaves in Khotan, hid mulberry seeds and the eggs of the silk moth in her headdress (here indicated by the attendant on the left) and smuggled them to Khotan to raise silkworms from them, thereby circumventing the Chinese embargo on their export, which had previously frustrated the king of Khotan’s efforts to obtain the means of making silk. At the border post, the official did not dare to examine her headdress. The resulting cocoons are seen in a basket in front of the princess.
    At the far right another figure stands by a loom with stretched warp, holding a beating comb in her hand, like those illustrated in Figs. 34-35. Behind her is an object that may be a reel for thread, and between her and the princess sits a presiding four-armed deity. All these identifications were made by Stein, who also noted the petal-shaped spots of dark pink set around the figures, and compared them to the auspicious sandal-ointment marks used by Hindus. In addition the four-armed god has been identified by N. V.D’ yakonova as a patron of weaving, presiding over the Silk Legend, as on this panel, and occasionally represented separately, as in Pl. 70-2 and another panel in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad (Joanna Williams, 1973, Fig. 63). Still another panel on exhibition in the Hermitage Museum (ibid., Fig. 64) presents the same figures in a vertical composition, with the four-armed god at the top of the panel and below him the princess holding the bowl of cocoons, with a kneeling attendant holding a shuttle (?). Below that, the princess is shown once more, this time with an attendant pointing at her headdress, just as in the Stein panel reproduced here.
    Yet another panel brought by Stein from Dandan-oilik, and now in New Delhi (ibid., Fig. 58, and Ancient Khotan, Pl. LXVII), displays a slightly different version of the same subject, which can be seen as an important local legend, of which the panel shown here was the first and is still the finest example.The Department of Asia would like to thank Xanthe Carmichael for her help with updating the information on the site of Dandan-Uiliq.斯坦因在丹丹烏里克發現的木板畫中,此繪畫是最爲引人注目的作品,由於是放在地板上,保存狀態極好。發現它的丹丹烏里克D.X寺址,是一個有數層千佛壁畫以及一身塑像的小屋。現在塑像已沒有了,只剩下中間細的漏斗狀八角形台座,下面曾有放供物的寬架子,此木板畫正好靠放在台座的一面。
    臉部與喀達里克壁畫的斷片一樣,主要輪廓線用紅色描繪,上瞼和眉毛上加了墨色。斯坦因認爲,此主題與養蠶技術傳到于闐的傳說故事有關。主要人物是中國公主,據玄奘的《大唐西域記》(12章)記載,于闐過去沒有桑葉,也沒有蠶,于闐王命令使者去求得桑葉和蠶,但中國禁止帶出國外。於是,她便將桑種和繭藏在頭飾中(左邊的侍女正在指著),嫁到于闐。國境的關卡不可能查到頭飾,計劃順利成功。從此于闐開始養蠶,公主前面的籃子裏盛滿了繭。
    站在撐滿經線的織機旁右端的像,右手拿著與Figs. 34-35展示的相同的筬。她後邊放著紡車樣的器械,她和公主中間坐著四臂神像。斯坦因對以上進行過比定,也進一步對散落于諸像周邊的暗紅色花瓣形裝飾,和印度教的塗白檀香的吉祥標誌做了比較。另外,N. V.D’ yakonova將四臂神像與掌管養蠶的編織守護神作了比定,圖70-2和艾爾米塔什美術館收藏的另外的一塊木板畫(參照Joanna Williams《和田佛教美術圖像》,Fig. 63),是作爲獨立像描繪的。而陳列于艾爾米塔什美術館的有另外一塊木板畫,內容是縱向排列的(同上,參照Fig. 64),最上部繪著四臂像,其下是手持盛繭容器的公主和手捧梭樣器械跪著的侍女,最下段描繪的公主和指向其頭飾的侍女的樣子,與本圖木板畫中的一樣。
    同樣,斯坦因從丹丹烏里克所獲現藏新德里國立博物館一塊木板畫(同上,參照Fig. 58及《古代和田》圖版LXVII)也繪有相同主題,但其表現形式略有变化,可以視爲當地的一個重要傳説。此木板畫較本圖所示的年代早,而且更爲精美。

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  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010 50 bibliographic details
    • Baumer 2000 fig.13 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 2004a fig.16 bibliographic details
    • Vainker 2004 fig.2 bibliographic details
    • Tucker 2003 fig.228 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield & Farrer 1990 no.132 bibliographic details
    • Stein 1907 p.300; vol.II, pl.LXIII bibliographic details
    • Baumer 1996 p.33 bibliographic details
    • Whitfield 1985 pl.66 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.173
    1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.173
    1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.173
    2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2010 14 May- 13 Sept, British Museum, G90, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'

  • Science

    See investigations 

    Analysis date

    1 January 2009

    Reason for analysis

    AR

    Analysis title

    Identification Of Pigments On The Wooden Panel Painting The Story Of The Silk Princess Oa 1907,1111.73

    Analysis outline

    The pigments used on this 6th

    century AD Chinese wooden panel painting were identified by in situ Raman spectroscopy. Hematite (red ochre), orpiment, gypsum, ultramarine and carbon-based black were found. The wood was identified as Broussonetia papyrifera, paper mulberry tree.

    Analysis reference number

    AR2009-43

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Legend of the Silk Princess
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1907

  • Acquisition notes

    The 1907-11-11 group refers to objects from Stein's First Central Asian Expedition, 1900-01. According to Stein's Introduction to 'Ancient Khotan' (1907), the expedition was funded by the Governments of India, the Panjab (Punjab) and from provincial funds of Bengal. All the finds were shipped to London for sorting, research and publication. The Government of India then recommended that Dr Rudolf Hoernle, together with the British Museum, should determine the distribution of the finds (BM Archives, Stein Papers, CE32/23/5).

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1907,1111.73

  • Additional IDs

    • D.X.4 (Stein no.)
Rectangular votive panel illustrating, on one side, the legend of the introduction of sericulture to the regions of Khotan. The central figure is a Chinese princess who smuggled mulberry seeds and eggs of the silk moth to Khotan, hiding them in her head-dress. In front of her there is a basket full of cocoons. The figure on the left is probably a female attendant pointing to the hidden items in the head-dress, while the figure on the right appears to stand in front of a loom holding a weaver's comb. The four-armed deity seated cross-legged probably represents the God of Silk, who appears to hold in the hands a goblet, a weaver's comb and a shuttle. Painted in ink and colours on wood.

Recto

Rectangular votive panel illustrating, on one side, the legend of the introduction of sericulture to the regions of Khotan. The central figure is a Chinese princess who smuggled mulberry seeds and eggs of the silk moth to Khotan, hiding them in her head-dress. In front of her there is a basket full of cocoons. The figure on the left is probably a female attendant pointing to the hidden items in the head-dress, while the figure on the right appears to stand in front of a loom holding a weaver's comb. The four-armed deity seated cross-legged probably represents the God of Silk, who appears to hold in the hands a goblet, a weaver's comb and a shuttle. Painted in ink and colours on wood.

Image description

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