- Museum number
Altar table made of poplar wood, consisting of four legs held together by panels which are tenoned into them (fragmentary). The upper part of the legs and the side panels are carved with flowers enclosed in square or rectangular frames and bordered by beaded bands. The front panel has a stupa bedecked with streamers in the centre flanked by two flowers.
- Production date
Height: 60 centimetres
Length: 67.80 centimetres
Depth: 45 centimetres
- Curator's comments
From Whitfield 1985:
The wooden furniture and remains of architectural decoration found by Stein at Niya on his first expedition closely resemble those uncovered on the second at Loulan near Lopnor (Figs. 29-33). Through this piece, preserved largely intact, we can form some idea of the way in which the panelling of the rooms was arranged. On the legs as well as the sides and ends, the decoration is divided into panels, often with beaded borders that correspond closely in motif to the larger panels from the ruined Buddhist shrine, Loulan B. II.
The commonest motif here is the four-petalled flower, readily adapted to fill rectangular or square spaces, and seen here on the legs as well as flanking the central motif on the front panel, while at the ends (Fig. 70-a) the flower motif is split so as to fill one large and two much smaller triangles. On a large table or desk from Loulan (Fig.31), the motif is used in much smaller squares to cover the surfaces of both legs and side panels. The same motif was used to decorate part of the wall panelling in the Buddhist shrine L. B.II (Fig. 28).
The front panel (Fig. 70-b) is of the most interest, since here the flowers flank a central motif, which is manifestly a Buddhist stupa garlanded and bedecked with streamers (although Stein thought it was a “pomegranate [?]”). Together with the eight-petalled lotuses that appear on the front legs, this leaves no doubt as to the Buddhist character of the frame, which was described by Stein as a chair but which seems altogether more likely to have been a small table, or even an altar. The tenons at the top of each leg would have secured a flat top, which, together with the back panel, is missing. All the panels are mortised into the legs and secured with dowels; there is an additional stretcher below each of the end panels.
From Whitfield 1985:
- On display (G33/dc10a/s1)
- Exhibition history
1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.175
1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.175
1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.175
- Acquisition date
- 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).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: N.vii.4 (Stein no.)