This body panel from a banner consists of two rectangular pieces of complete loom widths. The main piece (a) is of a clamp-resist dyed plain weave silk showing confronting horses backed with piece (b) of plain weave silk. The horses are similar in style to the relief with six horses in the tomb of Li Shiming (599-649), the first emperor of the Tang dynasty, and also the stone horses in the tomb of Empress Wu Zetian (624-705). The bodies of the lower pair of horses are decorated with a swastika motif, but the uppermost pair of horses also have spots. At the bottom of the panel, another pair of horse's legs are visible, showing where the plain weave silk was folded during the process of clamp-resist dyeing. The block used for the pattern probably measured about 76 cm in length.
The lining (b) is almost the same size as the top piece (a), but has a small tape, 5 cm wide and 15 cm long, of plain woven silk attached to one corner. Studies by Stein and Roderick Whitfield indicate that this tape could be the border for the head at the top of a banner. If so, the full-length banner would have been similar in size to the banner with a standing Bodhisattva (Stein Painting 217 [Ch.xxviii.007] in the British Museum).
Stein believed the pattern showed Persian influences, however the horses have the short stubby legs that are characteristic of Mongolian ponies.
b: Panel b
Warp: silk, untwisted, single, 44 ends/cm; Weft: silk, untwisted, 26 lats/cm. Weave structure: 1/1 plain weave.
Warp: silk, untwisted, single, 38 ends/cm; Weft: silk, untwisted, 28 lats/cm. Weave structure: 1/1 plain weave.
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