Ērān ud Anērān
Webfestschrift Marshak 2003


The role of the Sogdian Colonies in the diffusion of the pearl roundels pattern*

Matteo Compareti**

The archaeological objects discovered in the desert territory situated in the Xinjiang Uighurs' Autonomous Province (China) -or Eastern Turkestan- include a large quantity of textiles and other organic materials preserved thanks to the particular climatic conditions of the zone. The archaeological sites must investigated are the cemeteries of Astana and Kara-khoja, in the Turfan Oasis. Excavations led in the beginning of the last century by British and Japanese missions and, later, Chinese as well, discovered several naturally mummified corpses. They were buried with rich funerary outfits and with Persian or Byzantine coins and documents written in Chinese and those were used by scholars to establish the dating of the cemeteries (from about 3rd century A.D. to 8th century A.D.)1.

As already noted by Stein, during this period, the culture of the population of the Turfan Oasis, although not ethnically homogeneous, was strongly influenced by China2. In these cemeteries the faces of the dead were commonly covered with a funerary mask called fumian. It is similar to a custom known in China as well, but found only at Changsha (about 175-145 B.C.), a site -exactly as the Turfan Oasis- outside the traditional centres of Han culture3. The fumian discovered in the graves but not the robe worn by the dead is composed of a set of more interesting textiles because of their decoration. These show mostly a pattern called "pearl roundel design" composed of circular frames embellished with white discs which resemble pearls. The frames can enclose many themes (human, animal, vegetal, etc.) and are tangent to each other. At the point where two roundels touch instead of the smaller discs there are squares or crescents. In the interstice created by the encounter of four roundels are vegetal motifs, often arranged with zoomorphic ones4. This pattern was the most popular decorative motif on textiles (but testified in practically every other art) from the 7th century A.D. to the 12th-13th centuries A.D., and diffused throughout a wide area extending from Europe to the Far East, including even India, Egypt and Nubia. After the 12th century it did not enjoy great popularity anymore and the pearl roundel frames became vegetal interlacements.

The function of fumian in these textiles embellished with pearl roundels, so diffused in the Turfan Oasis, would point to a local production, even if this cannot be considered an irrefutable proof because the funerary masks could also have been obtained from imported fabrics. Regarding the possibility of an external importation, it is worth considering that the habit of the fumian certainly contributed to the diffusion of western iconographies and techniques in the Turfanese textiles, as they arrived in the area with the precious silks that they embellished. During the 7th century, in fact, a weaving technique commonly known as samit (weft-faced compound twill5), originally external to China and introduced from the west in the prevailing opinion among scholars, appears more and more frequently in the textile findings of Xinjiang6.

The innovative technique of the samit (particularly used for complex decorations as the pearl roundel7), the subjects inside the medallions and -as they will be considered below- other clues, make possible for us to assume that the place of origin for most of this precious textile production was Central Asia, in particular Sogdiana or the Sogdian colonies settled over a wide area. In the present article, however, we shall not discuss the origins of the pearl roundel pattern which have been widely investigated from Iranian8 and Chinese9 points of view. On the contrary, the object of this study will be a specific group of silk fragments of clear Iranian origin, recovered in different parts of modern China and at Nara (Japan), which constitues a later and an extremely refined and elaborate development of the simplier circular frames observed in Sasanian and Chinese art and in other textiles from Xinjiang.

This homogeneous group (called, for convenience, "Sogdian-Turfanese typology"10) is executed according to the weft-faced compound twill technique (samit) and shows strong influences borrowed from Chinese art both in the mirror image and the line of axis which is denoted by the tree of life inside the medallions. The latter are never in contact but they display the square motives along the hem. At the same time Chinese characters often appear while the elements in the interstices are composed of a smaller pearl roundel usually containing a lotus flower, combined with a vegetal part developed around it. Finally, it is worth noticing that the pearls along the hem of circles are always twenty, five for every sector delimited by the square motifs. The pearl roundel frames, exactly as in the interstitial patterns -although with very small variants- are repeated identically in all the surviving examples of this group, so it is deducible that the weaving center of provenience was the same.

Some scholars recognize in these silks the work of Chinese weavers strongly influenced by Iranian themes, mostly defined as "Sasanian" (a term amply abused)11. However similar decorations appear rarely on garments worn by Chinese persons and, by the analysis of the subjects inscribed inside the medallions of the textiles of this typology, it is possible to recognize stylistic characteristics recurrent in Sogdian art, mostly borrowed from Sasanian Persia originally, but adapted for local use12.

The fact that in the art of Sogdiana of this period an ornamentation similar to the textiles of the Sogdian-Turfanese typology is never reproduced, and that there is an evident Chinese component, it is possible to advance the hypothesis that these precious fabrics were produced inside the Heavenly Kingdom. Some Chinese sources strongly support the Shu Province (Sichuan) as a possible candidate but recent scholars propose the Turfan Oasis.13.

The presence of Sogdians at the courts of the numerous Chinese to the Tang (618-906), is well documented in the sources: the Sogdians are described as a people employed in trade, fond of music and wine14. In the epoch of the destruction of the Western Turk Empire (657-658 A.D.) by the Tang, the Chinese extended a nominal protectorate over Central Asia, recognizing the king of Samarkand -Varkhūmān- as regent in the third quarter of the 7th century, i.e. at the dawn of Arabian invasion15.

The presence of Sogdians in Chinese territory is a well-known subject16, also directly provided by the findings of documents written in the language of this Iranian people (for example, the "Sogdian ancient letters" found in Gansu17) and, above all, by the Chinese funerary monuments for high rank Sogdian immigrants dated to the Northern Dynasties period (6th century A.D.)18. For the aims of the present study, the importance of these monuments is represented by the pearl roundel decoration in relief which embellishes them, with the medallions arranged horizontally and enclosing figures of sitting musicians (fig. 1), monstrous heads (fig. 2) and winged animals (fig. 3). These pearl roundels represent the proof that the Sogdians (and the Chinese) knew the pattern in the 6th century19 but in a form simpler than the complex decorations of many silks excavated in Xinjiang.

Some textiles recovered from Astana, probably earlier than the funerary monuments of the Northern Dynasties and perhaps produced in the Turfan Oasis, could be considered prototypes of the pearl roundel patterned fabrics of the Sogdian-Turfanese typology so widespread during the 7th-8th century20. A silk fragment recovered in Astana tomb 18 -dated 589 A.D.- displays non perfectly circular medallions with small light pearls along the hem, phytomorphous elements in the tangent points (possibly flowers) and two crossed shrubs in the interstices (fig. 4)21. The figures enclosed in one roundel are: a cameleer with a stick in one hand and an indistinct object at his side22, the camel held by the bridle and the Chinese characters hu wang (barbarian -probably Iranian- king). In other medallions there are elephants and lions as well as the character ji (fortune). All these figures are found in one half of every medallion and have their mirror images in the other half. Both the internal subjects and the medallions themselves are depicted quite roughly and this is due, in K. Riboud’s opinion, to the weaving technique characteristic of Chinese textile art at least until 4th century A.D.-commonly called "warp-faced compound tabby"- which is not appropriate for such decorations23.

In essennce, this example of a complete pearl roundel pattern among Xinjiang textiles can be considered the product of Chinese manufacture, or a local product strongly influenced by China, as to the point of the technique, the mirror image, the characters hu wang and ji and the figures depicted inside the medallions, which recall to mind the small funerary statues (mingqi) typical of Tang period tombs, often representing Central Asians wearing caftans, headgear and boots, accompanied by beasts of burden loaded with goods24. Such figures never appear among the reproduction of textile motifs in Sogdian painting. On the contrary, some silks recovered from Astana, executed in the samit technique and displaying isolated subjects inside the medallions (fig. 5), find an exact parallel in the textile reproductions in the paintings at Afāsyāb dated to the 7th century (fig. 6), where, as observed above, the patterns of the Sogdian-Turfanese typology are unknown.

In Chinese written sources, the authors celebrate the Persian brocade (Posi jin) giving a vague description of decorative patterns and never explicitly mentioning the pearl roundels25. In the Weigong guwuji (Record of the Western Regions in the history of Southern Dynasties), in the part dedicated to the Hephtalites, there are hints about Persian brocade presented in 520 A.D. to the Liang court26. There is the possibility that the definition "Persian brocade" started to be exploited in Chinese literature for every textile coming from the west from the beginning of 6th century. It has been noted that, in this period, relations among the Chinese dynasties and Sasanian Iran suffered a standstill due to the barrier caused by Hephtalites (rulers in Central Asia approximately from the middle of 5th century A.D. to the middle of 6th century A.D.).27 In this period “Persian brocade” could have been produced in Sogdiana -incorporated in the Hephtalite range of conquest approximately in the beginning of 6th century A.D.- where the sericultural techniques were already known, so much so to lead to the creation of a real artistic weaving school since 6th century A.D.28.

Evidently the Chinese, notoriously inclined to maintaining unaltered the old nomenclature in their sources, continued to call such textiles "Persian brocade" as before the arrival of the Hephtalites, or it is imaginable that the same Sogdians sold off their goods as Persian products, undoubtedly in order to get economic advantages29. On the other hand it is also possible that the Hephtalites did not constitute a barrier for the Sasanian middlemen and diplomatic missions and that the goods coming from Persia were subjected -as it would be obvious to expect- to taxation, rendering them particularly expensive. Such a hypothesis would fit better with the argumentats expressed by B. Marak who considers Sogdian silks of inferior quality30. In this way, the information obtained from the Chinese sources could be considered correct.

There could be then the possibility that some precious textiles had come to China from the Zoroastrian kingdom of Māzandarān, heir of the Sasanian culture and diplomacy: Tang sources record that some missions arrived at the Chinese court to pay tribute from there31. In this region was continued the production of sumptuous objects belonging to the Sasanian tradition among which, most likely, were textiles32. But the kingdom arose at the fall of the Sasanians and ended in the second half of the 8th century, when the pearl roundel pattern was already well-known and diffused. If the missions from Māzandarān presented to the Tang court precious silks, it is very probable that these could have come from those regions of Central Asia certainly crossed by the representatives of the last Persians not submitted to the Arabs on their way to China.

The subjects enclosed in the roundels of the Sogdian-Turfanese typology include: confronted deers besides the tree of life with the Chinese characters hua shu dui lu (flowered trees confronted deers), from Astana33 (Fig. 7); confronted rhinoceri and foxes (?) besides a tree from the Shōsō-in34 (fig. 8); confronted tigers besides a tree from Dulan35 (fig. 9); possibly, a single tree with grape-like shaped fruits on a pedestal recovered at Astana by Stein36 (fig. 10); winged horses represented singularly, from Astana (fig. 11) and Qara-khoja37. The single reproduction of the pegasus inside the roundel is quite unusual among the Turfanese silks, in fact several specimens were recovered at Astana and one at Dulan with confronted winged horses besides a central tree or standing on a vegetal pedestal in form of spread wings38. Usually these latter medallions substitute the square motives in the tangent points with big white flowers, while the pegasus inside show stylized geometrical designs on the body, floating ribbons tied to the neck and a small pole on the head surmounted by a crescent containing a flower-like motif, all carachteristics of Sogdian art39.

Also the scenes of riding hunters intent upon shooting arrows are frequent in the textiles comprised in the Sogdian-Turfanese typology. Apart from the fragments of Astana and Dulan40, the example best preserved and most discussed by scholars comes from the imperial deposit of the Shōsō-in, inside the Tōdai-ji temple at Nara (8th century A.D.). It takes its name from the Emperor Shōmu (724-756), after whose death the Empress Kōmyō made the donation of such precious goods to the temple41 (fig. 12). The ornament of the Emperor Shōmu (or Mikadō Shōmu) banner displays a series of big pearl roundels spaced out, in whose intertices are wedged the elaborated motifs. Inside every medallion are two pairs of archers (one in the upper part, the other below), riding a rearing winged horse, turned to shoot a leaping lion. The line axis of the entire composition is a thin tree trunk. The bearded figure mounted on the horse wears armour and a winged crown surmounted by a crescent containing a circle. The pegasus has a string of pearls on the "s" curved wings, ribbons tied to the legs and the Chinese characters shan (mountain) or ji (fortune) are enclosed in a round frame on the visible flank. Although the two characters belong unquestionably to the Chinese writing system, there are very interesting arguments for a derivation of the character shan from the custom of branding the horses in Sasanian Persia42.

The specular and axial repetition of the scene is not a characteristic widespread in the art of Sogdiana, in fact, it should be recognised as a Chinese influence43. Abstract textile decorations appear in the paintings of Varakha and Penjikent dated to 8th century. They are substantially different from those in the paintings of Afrāsyāb, where the subjects inside the medallions on the robe of the people depicted are always single (fig. 6). Such differences are due, in A. Belenitskij and B. Marak’s opinion, to the change of taste in a period subsequent to the paintings of Afrāsyāb and not to the presence of more weaving schools44.

Sogdian silks are commonly associated by scholars to the textile production of the Zandane village -in the Bukhara region- documented in Islamic sources as zandanījī and held in high esteem. They can be considered the representatives of the artistic maturity reached by the Sogdian weaving school, set up since the 6th century A.D. and continuing until the fall of the Samanids (819-1005)45. Recently, it was argued by Boris Marak that the zandanījī did not indicate a kind of Sogdian silk but a highly appreciated cotton textile. This he says can be proved by the fact that the precious silks normally called zandanījī do not appear in the Sogdian paintings because they are a production of the Islamic period in Transoxiana46. Specimens of this kind of textiles executed in the samit technique are kept in the treasures of several Western European churches where originally covered precious relics. Among these silks, one singled out by D. Shepherd -kept in the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, Huy (Belgium)- presents a Sogdian inscription which would date the fabric to the 7th century (fig. 13)47. Subsequently, D. Shepherd and A. Jerusalimskaja listed a certain amount of the so-called zandanījī, adding to the corpus some silks discovered at Astana and Dunhuang, while others were added after the publications of the two scholars48.

The main iconographic characteristics of these silks are, first of all, the confronted animals, generally represented beside a tree, standing on a pedestal in the form of the typical Sasanian wings. In the reproduction of animals there is no intention in reproducing naturalness or liveliness, stiffness and stylization prevails49 (fig. 14). On the body of the animals appear "geometric" designs and small roundels in place of the joints of the ankles, a characteristic most likely borrowed from Sasanian art, and well known also to the Byzantine weavers (who introduce, in their turn, some additions)50. Then, the paws of the animals are usually represented pointing low and the claws, in the case of birds and felines, seem to thrust in the pedestal51 (fig. 15). Also the animals of the textiles not found in the Sogdian-Turfanese typology excavated in Xinjiang display designs diffused over the body, as is the case for the deers in some Astana textiles (fig. 16). There is also an evident difference among these silks and the fabrics of the Sogdian-Turfanese typology, not only for the representation of the subjects enclosed in the medallions but in the same frames, which in the so-called zandanījī comprise a series of variants as the vegetal elements, the string of hearts or the sequence of petals (probably borrowed from Chinese art), often in combination with pearls52.

Regarding the motives at the tangent points of the roundels, in Sogdian painting there are mostly of two kinds: circular, often surrounded by pearls and normally enclosing a crescent, and a circle enclosing a square, especiallypresent in the Turfanese silks of the 7th century. The first kind is possibly connected to Zoroastrianism53, while the circular and square motives seem connected to a certain kind of Chinese coins adopted in Sogdiana54.

The so-called zandanījī appear in general intended for export to the West, mainly towards the centers of Abbasid Empire (750-1258), in the period when the Arabs completed the conquest of Transoxiana, establishing a sort of barrier for the goods sent to the East55. Sogdian-Turfanese typology is present at Astana and Kara-khoja in Xinjiang, at Dulan in Qinghai and also at Nara in Japan, all territories strictly linked to Tang China56. In Japan, the pearl roundel pattern was rarely used to embellish garments, but it is documented in Buddhist art57. In Tibet and the Himalayan zone -comprising Kaśmīr and Ladakh- the textiles with pearl roundels were highly appreciated by the upper classes: they embellish paintings and statues depicting figures of Buddhist pantheon58, and the garments of important persons, as the caftan of the Lhasa envoy at the Tang court portrayed in a painting attributed to Yan Liben (about 600-674 A.D.)59, who, evidently, insisted on the particular which mostly attracted his attention, or deliberately marked the foreign nature of the diplomatic60 (Fig. 17). The Tibetan envoy is possibly the minister Mgar Ston rtsan, arrived at Chang’an in 640 A.D. to escort a Chinese princess accorded by the emperor Tang Tai Zong (627-649) to the king Sron-brtsan-Sgam-po (about 610-649) of the Pugyel (sPu rgyal) dynasty (630-846)61.

Such identification, although very likely, raised some doubts exposed by H. Richardson in a brief article, where he speaks of an anachronism because the Chinese sources suggest that the utilization of silk by the Tibetans would be subsequent to the wedding with the Tang princess62. So, it could be assumed that the garment worn by Mgar was a gift of the Emperor, or that the Tibetans were already acquainted with silk and that the envoy from Lhasa wears a Central Asian manufactured garment (most likely a Sogdian one)63, while the problem of the introduction of silk documented in the sources could be considered an arbitrary statement dictated by the historical superiority attitude of the Chinese regarding the neighbouring peoples.

It is interesting to consider the possibility of the utilization of precious textiles for the exchange of tributes with the "barbaric" courts on behalf of the Tang, who, probably bought or expressly ordered the fabrics from Sogdian workers used to weaving Chinese script, settled inside the Heavenly Kingdom. The Japanese and the dwellers of the Turfan Oasis were for sure able to understand and to appreciate the characters in the textile decorations, moreover also the Tibetans were strongly influenced by Chinese culture. The Sogdians of the colonies were acquainted with Chinese and it is less credible that they reproduced mechanically the characters ignoring the meaning64. To prove that, in 8th century China, the activities connected to the production and trade of precious fabrics were mainly in the hands of foreigners, there is the documentation of the restrictions imposed by the Tang government through an edict issued in the period comprised between 766 and 799 A.D. It was prohibited to embellish fabrics with "western" motives and with the Chinese character ten thousand (wan), officially because of the value given to simplicity and frugality professed by the revival of Confucian beliefs but, most likely, to limit the power of the "barbarian" traders resident in China65.

In this way, it could appear to be the reason behind the prohibition to use Chinese characters by non-Han weavers resident in China. Through such restrictions the Tang probably tried also to stop a dangerous antagonist represented by "western" samit in competition with pure Chinese textiles, still produced according to the traditional technique of the warp-faced compound tabby throughout 7th and 8th centuries66. Then, in that period, the control over Central Asian territories -which could have supplied great quantities of precious silks- were definitly lost after the rebellion of Rokhan -or An Lushan- in 755-756 to Tibetans’ advantage, so it does not seem that the restrictions were directed against imported fabrics67. The contrivances, aimed to damage the foreigners who were becoming more numerous and dangerously powerful inside the Tang empire, became the prelude to the expulsion of foreign religions in 843-845 A.D., as reaction against the Buddhism in particular and the western exoticisms in general. Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism and Nestorian Cristianity -creeds notoriously associated with Sogdians- did not escape from the measure68.

As observed above, these precious textiles could have been produced inside China. In the sources there are references to a production of silks according to the "western style" in the Shu Province (Sichuan). Documents found in some Turfanese tombs would support the Chinese production and its exportation towards Xinjiang. The iconography of such textiles could have comprised the pearl roundel pattern as well69. Indeed, in the Sui shu (History of the Sui Dynasty), it is recorded that in the year 605 A.D., the head of the Shu ateliers producing silks in the "western style" was a certain He Chou, a name which betrays his Sogdian origins70.

From a chronological point of view, it is possible that such textiles were embellished with pearl roundels, in fact, as observed above, this ornamentation was already known by the Sogdians at least since the 6th century, but the absence of explicit references to pearl roundel frames in the sources, and the lack of textile archaeological findings in Sichuan referring to the Sui Dynasty and the beginning of the Tang, render the identification uncertain. Direct control of the Chinese court on the production of silks was already considered by K. Yokohari and Zhao Feng71. In this case, the location of silk industries in Sichuan instead of Xinjiang would appear more plausible because of their proximity to the Tang court.

Apart from the true place of origin of the textiles that we proposed to point out as the Sogdian-Turfanese typology, what is really worth noticing once more is the role of the Sogdian immigrants in China, always involved in or related to silk trade, production and decoration. For other luxury objects the same hypothesis of a Sogdian production in China fits well. In fact, some precious metalworks discovered in tombs in China and in the Shōsō-in point out a Sogdian production, or a Tang production strongly influenced by Sogdian and Central Asians models72. Such production could even have been supported, in a first moment, by the Chinese authorities. In fact, He Chou supervisioned also the production of tiles used for architectonic decoration according to the "western taste"73. Considering that these products were so precious to be employed in diplomatic exchanges, it is easy to image the richness and the power of traders and artists involved in the businness, evidently not appreciated by the Tang court.

It seems that the pearl roundel pattern did not appear on the garments worn by Han people in proper China, but this was not the attitude of the Chinese dwelling in the Turfan Oasis. The latter probably saw in Iranian symbolism something belonging to their own culture: for example the peacock could be easily interpreted as the fenhuang or the zhuniao and the lion as the tiger. The Tang certainly knew the habits of the Sogdians, but there are no traces of pearl roundels in the funerary Chinese paintings of that period, extremely rich in the reproduction of textiles: among the preferred decorations of the Tang were flowers and coloured stripes74. Rare specimens of Tang textiles were discovered in 1987 during excavation at the Famen Temple, not far from Xi’an, but unless some of them are described as embellished with pearl roundels, there does not exist yet a complete publication, and a detailed study will be possible only after the completion of a catalogue75.

The authors Whitfield and Farrer, in the introduction to the section of the textiles in their book on Dunhuang, point out the existence of pearl roundels in China76. They state that this kind of decoration appears for the first time in China in the Yungang caves (at Datong, Shaanxi Province), dated to 5th century A.D. Jaqueline Simcox, in the historical introduction of an article by Zhao Feng on pearl roundels in China, apparently following the two previous authors, mentions the same information, but without any bibliographical reference77. The ornament of Yungang caves denotes many borrowings from Sasanian and Central Asian arts78, but probably Whitfield and Farrer, and Simcox refer to a particular kind of architectonic decoration, diffused on a wide area from Xinjiang to Hebei, from Inner Mongolia to Henan, Korea and Japan. It was composed by square or round tiles with a flower in the center enclosed by a string of pearls79 (Fig. 18). Possibly, these are samples of the tiles produced in the Shu Province under He Chou supervision. Something very similar recurs at least in one Tang textile quoted by R. Krahl with scarce bibliographical references80.

In sculpture, simple pearl roundels touching each other but without tangent points appear in the cave 30 at Maichishan on a niche containing a Buddha image81. Pearl roundels appear among the mingqi recovered in a princely Tang tomb in Shaanxi, not far from Xi’an82. Many small statues represent soldiers riding armoured horses with non tangent pearl roundels enclosing a four-petals green flower on red background, on the armour of the animals and on the saddles. Unfortunately these mingqi do not represent an irrefutable proof of a real use of the pearl roundel pattern on Chinese garments, because it appears only on the horses. Furthermore, it is not certain whether the small statues represent Tang soldiers or foreign mercenaries. One last mingqi of unknown provenence, with a horse standing on a carpet embellished with a big, single pearl medallion containing two confronted birds, is part of a private collection83 (fig. 19).

In the decoration of ceramics, pearl roundels enclosing people appear again on an unusual vase discovered in Hebei Province84, while human faces inscribed in pearl roundels embellish a jar and a rhyton of unknown provenance and doubtfully dated85. The same decoration -enclosing human, demon and animal faces- is present on the slab of the tomb belonging to Sui Lihe, found in Shaanxi Province, dated to 582-83 A.D.86 (fig. 20). According to Cen Rui, a makara and an elephant would be represented enclosed in the isolated medallions on the Sui Lihe funerary slab, suggesting contacts with India (and Sogdiana), where both images were widely used87. The links with Sogdiana or, more in general, with Iranian culture, are underlined by the possible association of the inscribed faces with astronomy and the zodiac, both important disciplines in China as in Sogdiana88.

The study of decoration of Tang textiles, proved the almost total absence of this motif, specially in painting art89. In fact, few Chinese works display pearl roundels, only as part of inner decoration or on the garments worn by foreigners, as in the paiting attributed to Yan Liben (fig. 17). Just in one exception, on a carving from Xi’an, the cloth of a minister is embellished with one big, isolated and empty pearl roundel on each sleeve90.

After a period of great favour, besides the scarce traces of the pearl roundel pattern in Chinese art, the motif underwent a transformation due mainly to the influence of the Heavenly Kingdom. In fact, as already happened and is documented in Chinese art91, during the 8th-9th centuries, the medallions begun to be converted in vegetal interlaces92 -exactly as it would have occurred in Europe and Byzantine Empire during the 11th and 12th century93- probably to render it more pleasant to Chinese taste. Evidently the foreign nature of the decoration was not appreciated by nobility and relevant people of the Tang court, while it was suitable for silks used as diplomatic gifts, according to the system of keeping control over barbarians through barbarians94, a system well-known by the Chinese strategists.


[Missing Image]
Fig. 1: L. Sickman, A. Soper, The Art and Architecture of China, Harmondsworth, 1968: pl. 41.B (detail).

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Fig. 2: Shaanxi Archaeological Institute, 2001: fig. 33 (detail).

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Fig. 3: Juliano, Lerner, 2001: fig. 5 (detail).

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Fig. 4: Riboud, 1977.b: fig. 4.b.

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Fig. 5: Meister, 1970: fig. 30.

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Fig. 6: Otavsky, 1998.b: fig. 94 (detail).

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Fig. 7: Tulufan Basin and Paleo Silk Textile, 2000: fig. 18, p. 155.

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Fig. 8: Meister, 1970: fig. 43.

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Fig. 9: Xu Xinguo, Zhao Feng, 1991: 11.

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Fig. 10: Ackerman, 1938-39 reprint 1967: fig. 247.

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Fig. 11: Meister, 1970: fig. 27.

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Fig. 12: Otavsky, 1998.b: fig. 103 (detail).

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Fig. 13: B. JA. Staviskij, The Art of Central Asia. The Ancient Period 6th century BC-8th century AD, Moskow, 1974: fig. 172.

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Fig. 14: Otavsky, 1998.a: fig. 4 (detail).

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Fig. 15: Otavsky, 1998.a: fig. 10 (detail).

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Fig. 16: Zhao Feng, 1992: fig. 7-3.a.

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Fig. 17: Karmay, 1977: fig. 1 (detail).

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Fig. 18: Krahl, 1989: fig. 11.

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Fig. 19: Hartman, 1969: fig. 7.7b.

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Fig. 20: Cen Rui, 1983: fig. 1.


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L. И. Альбаум, Живопис Афрасиаба, Ташкент, 1975.

G. Azarpay, Sasanian and Sogdian Artistic Patterns: a Comparative Study, Le Plateau iranien et l'Asie Centrale des origines �la conqu�e islamique. Leurs relations �la lumi�e des documents arch�logiques, Paris, 1976, pp. 323-28.

G. Azarpay, Sasanian Art beyond the Persian World, Mesopotamia and Iran in the Parthian and Sasanian periods: Rejection and Revival c. 238 BC- AD 642, ed. J. Curtis, London, 2000, pp. 67-75.

C. I. Beckwith, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia: a History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages, Princeton, 1987.

A.M.Беленицкий, Новые памятники искусство Пенжикента. Опыт иконографического истолкования, Скульптура и живопис древнего Пенжикента, Москва, 1959.

A.M.Беленицкий, И.Б.Бентович, Из истории среднеазиатиского шелкоткачесmва (К идентификации ткани "занданeчu"), Совиетская Археология, 1, 1961, pp. 66-78.

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* This study is part of the degree thesis "Un motivo ornamentale iranico nei tessuti del Xinjiang, Qinghai e Gansu", University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, 1997/98. Several people contributed to the fulfilment of the present article. I am indebted to Prof. G. Scarcia (who originally encouraged the study), to Dott. A. Malag�and to Prof. M. V. Fontana for their indispensable suggestions and for bringing to my attention books and articles. Prof. B. I. Marak of the State Hermitage allowed me to visit the Central Asiatic collection of the museum, close at the time (September 1996) and gave me important suggestions as well. Finally I have to thank all the people working in the library of Centro Studi Architettura Armena di Viale dell' Universit�(Rome) collected by former Prof. P. Cuneo, for their kindness and for their trust in my researches.

** Istituto Universitario di Napoli "L'Orientale"

1 Лубо-Лесниченко (1984): 109-111; Riboud (1987): 93; Литвинский (1995): 284-97; Yokohari (1991): 41, note 1.

2 Stein (1928, reprint 1988): 668. The Qu family governed the territory of Turfan between 502 A.D. and 640 A.D. The Qu were Chinese in origin. Later the entire region fell under Tang rule (640-792): Zhang Guang-Da (1996): 305-306. On the "barbarized" customs of the Chinese resident in the Turfan region: Marshak (1994): 11; Zhang Guang-da (1996): 311; Zhang Guangda, Rong Xinjiang (1998): 16, 19-20.

3 Riboud (1977.a): 61; Riboud (1977.b): 440-43; Лубо-Лесниченко (1984): 111. Recently, in other Xinjiang and Chinese tombs were recovered new specimens of fu mian: Excavation and Site Report, China Archaeology and Art Digest, vol. 1, n4 (1996): 98-99; China Archaeology and Art Digest, vol. 4, n1 (2000): 442.

4 Almost the whole range of silks embellished with pearl roundels from the region of Turfan were published in: Xinjiang Uighurs' Autonomous Province Museum (1972.a); Tomoyuki (1979) (where there are reproduced in full colours the specimens recovered by Sir A. Stein); Gao Hanyu (1986); Yokohari (1986); Yokohari (1991); Yokohari (1997); Tulufan Basin and Paleo Silk Textile (2000). I was unable to consult: H. Natschl�er (1984) Zu einigen in Turfan Astana ausgegrabenen polychromen Seidengeweben des 3. Bis 8. Jh. N. Chr. (Maschinenschrift), Phil. Diss. Wien, Wien.

5 The term follows the terminology defined in: Centre International d’Etudes des Textiles Anciennes (1964). For a detailed description of these techniques specifically in the Turfan textiles: Riboud (1977.a); Sheng (1998): 126-138; Sheng (1999.a): 153-59.

6 Meister (1970): 261-64; Riboud (1977.b): 449; Xia Nai (1963): 45-47. On a very interesting discussion about the samit in China: Yokohari (1997). For A. Sheng its introduction occurred during the 8th century A.D.: Sheng (1999.b): 52. The adoption of this technique led to the development of the so-called "Chinese samit", slightly different than the "Western" one: Yokohari (1991): 65-71; Zhao Feng, Simcox (1997): 83-84; Sheng (1998): 126.

7 Geijer (1963): 14; Riboud (1976): 33; Riboud (1977.b): 449.

8 On this topic see: Carmel (1990); Scerrato (1994). The same Stein did not reject the definion "Sasanian roundels", even if he clearly expressed himself for a probable Sogdian production for some of the textiles excavated at Turfan: Stein (1921, reprint 1980): 909.

9 Meister (1970); Лубо-Лесниченко (1987): 91-92; Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993); Sun Ji (1993): 342, note 4; Heller (1998.a): 113. Recently, some scholars made a distinction of the different kinds of frames in Chinese textile and locates their prototypes mostly in Near East, while the introduction in China occurred between 3rd and 6th centuries: Сакамото, Лубо-Лесниченко (1989): 68; Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 2-5; Lubo-Lesnichenko (1995): 68; Lubo-Lesnichenko (1999): 462-64.

10 The fabrics that we refer to as the "Sogdian-Turfanese typology" are called by Zhao Feng "Chinese Weavings with Adapted Western Patterns": Zhao Feng, Simcox (1997): 83. A similar distinction of different typologies in the iconography of the Turfan textiles (linked to the Sogdians) was already noted by Bo Xiaoying (1990), although A. Sheng's critics: Sheng (1998): 150-51. Also K. Yokohari realized that these silks represent a group with similar characteristics: Yokohari (1991): 69-71. For the Japanese scholar the beginning of this typology would be 580 A.D.

11 Simmons (1962): 14; Harada (1969): 9-10; Domyo (1981): 115; Catalogue Roma (1994): cat. 43; Heller (1998.a): 112; Otavsky (1998.b): 122-50; Sheng (1998): 147-48.

12 On Sasanian influence upon Sogdian art and specifically on paintings: Azarpay (1976); Silvi Antonini (1989): 119-120; Marak (1990): 292, 295, 298; Schippmann (1993): 136-37; Marshak (1996.a); Grenet, Marshak (1998): 12; Azarpay (2000): 72.

13 On the silk production in Xinjiang: Wu Min (1996): 10, 12-13; Zhao Feng, Simcox (1997): 83 (with a referement to dispatches found in Turfan and Dunhuang that record a textile production in several localities of Xinjiang); Sheng (1998): 132-38; Sheng (1999.b): 45, 52. According to A. Sheng "wealthy expatriated Sogdian merchants of Iranian descent commisioned textiles for their own use. Under this patronage, Chinese and Sogdian weavers, who worked togheter in governament and private workshops at Turfan, experimented and produced both new designs and new weave structures": Sheng (1999.b): 45 (but see also: Sheng (1998) and Sheng (1999.a): 155). Such observation is supported by the hypothesis advanced by B. Marak regarding the commission of the Northern Qi funerary monument and of the similar panels (see: Marshak, (1994):12), but it does not explain the recovery of identical silks outside China proper, expecially as part of funerary outfits of relevant "barbarians". Once more, in A. Sheng's opinion these textiles would have been commisioned by rich Sogdian merchants to Chinese and Sogdian weavers: Sheng (1998). According to the sources it is clear that the Sogdians at Turfan were not only traders but also craftsmen (see: Sheng (1998): 139) and that the fu mian recovered in the Turfanese cemeteries belonged to Chinese people. On a possible Sogdian production somewhere east of proper Sogdiana: Catalogue New York (1997): cat. 3, 4.

14 Chavannes (1903): 134. During the Tang period there was a certain number of Sasanians in China excaped from the Islamic armies, among whom, in M. Rossabi's opinion, there were also weavers: Rossabi (1998): 85. On the Sasanian presence in China: Harmatta (1971); Forte (1984); ibid. (1996.a); ibid. (1996.b); ibid (1996.c); ibid. (2000); Compareti (forthcoming 2003).

15 Belenitskii, Marshak (1981): 17; Mode (1993): 48-58; Marshak (1996.b): 236-238; Twitchett, Wechsler (1979): 281, map 8; Compareti (2002): 376-377.

16 Chavannes (1903): 132-47; Pelliot (1916); Shiratori (1928); Pulleyblank (1952); Boulnois (1966): 134, 149-63; Raschke (1978): 638-39; Pulleyblank (1966); Grenet (1985): 36-38; Watson (1986); Mode (1991/ 92); Pulleyblank (1992): 427-28; Sims-Williams (1996); Yoshida (1996); Grenet, Zhang Guangda (1996); Cheng Yue (1996); Rong Xinjiang (2000); Luo Feng (2001); De La Vaissi�e (2002):124-153.

17 Sims-Williams (1985); Grenet, Sims-Williams (1987).

18 For the funerary monument dated to the Northern Qi (550-577): Scaglia (1958); Marshak (1994): 12; Catalogue Paris (1995.a): cat. 25; Sheng (1998): 146. For the An Jia (d. 579) funerary couch dated to the Northern Zhou (557-581) embellished with monstrous heads: Shaanxi Archaeological Institute (2001): figs. 33-35; Marshak (2001): fig. 12. Another funerary monument, part of a private collection and probably dated to the Sui period, displays pearl roundels containing winged animals: Juliano, Lerner (2001): 54, fig. 5; Marshak (2001): 244. An isolated pearl roundel enclosing an acrobat (?) on the left side of a stele, dated ca. 537 A.D. (period of the Western Wei, 535-557), kept in the Nelson Gallery of Kansas City, could be associated to the presence of Central Asians. This last reference was kindly brought to my attention by Prof. N. Celli of the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari.

19 For Belenitskij and Marak the pearl roundel was widespread in Sogdiana since the end of the 6th century: Belenitskii, Marshak (1981): 44. Recently B. Marak stated that the pearl roundels are typical decorations of silks depicted at Penjikent from ca. A.D. 600: Marshak (1996.c): 213. See also: Marshak, Raspopova (1990): 89. In Sasanian sphere, the pearl roundel containing the head of a boar is reported from the end of the 6th century A.D.: Marshak (2001): 244.

20 A very similar opinion, obtained expecially by the point of view of the weaving techniques, was advanced by Sheng (1998).

21 Riboud (1977.b): fig. 4.b; Catalogue Urumqi (1992): cat. 33. On a recent description of this silk: Yokohari (1991): 52-53.

22 The object is described as a fire altar: Yokohari (1991): 52.

23 Riboud (1976): 33; Riboud (1977.b): 449.

24 Mahler (1959): pls. XVIII.b and XIX.a; Mahler (1966): 72.

25 For a list of Chinese sources on the Persian brocade: Harada (1969); Лубо-Лесниченко (1987); Yokohari (1991): 56-57; Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993); Sun Ji (1993): 335-36, note 4, 339-42, note 4.

26 Harada (1969): 7; Yokohari (1991): 56.

27 Daffin�(1985): 123-27.

28 Hannestad (1955-57): 450; Иерусалимская (1972). On a similar observation about the relationships between the Chionite-Hephtalites and Sogdiana: Carter (1974): 190-91 note 81. Possibly, the Sogdians were responsable also of the name that the Chinese used to point out Persia (Posi): Colless (1969-1970): 35 note 61; Daffin�(1985): 121-22. Also the Tibetan name for Persia (par sig) seems to be a Sogdian borrowing: Hoffman (1971); Uray (1983): 409.

29 The event does not represent an isolated case. During the Islamic period, Spanish textiles were sold for products of Baghdad: von Folsach (1994): 10.

30 Marshak (forthcoming).

31 Maejima (1981).

32 Melikian-Chirvani (1991): 176-177.

33 Meister (1970): figs. 66, 67.

34 Meister (1970): fig. 43.

35 Xu Xinguo, Zhao Feng (1991): fig. 11. The article was also translated in English but not completely: Xu Xinguo, Zhao Feng (1996) A Preliminary Study of the Silk Textiles Excavated at Dulan, China Archaeology and Art Digest, vol. 1, n 4: 13-34.

36 Stein published a reproduction without the elements in the interstices: Stein (1928, reprint 1988): pl. LXXX, Ast.i.1.01. Also Ph. Ackerman reported just the central motif: Ackerman (1938-39 reprint 1967): fig. 247.

37 Respectively: Meister (1970): fig. 27; Catalogue Urumqi (1992): fig. 141. Possibly, a last specimen (very badly preserved) exists among the textiles recovered by P. Pelliot at Dunhuang: Riboud, Vial (1970): pls. 40-41, pp. 209-210.

38 Winged horses from Astana are mostly collected in: Meister (1970): figs. 54-57. For similar decorative patterns from Dulan: Zhao Feng (1995): pl. 4-3.

39 Compareti (forthcoming 2004). Specifically on the Pegasus with a crescent on the head: Compareti (2003).

40 It is not clear if the figures represented are hunters or simply riders. For the specimens from Astana: Xinjiang Uighurs' Autonomous Province Museum (1972.b): pl. 50, 51; Gao Hanyu (1986): 156, fig. 127 (recently published in: Yokohari (1997): pl. IX-5). For the specimen from Dulan: Zhao Feng, Simcox (1997): fig. 13.a.

41 Scerrato (1961): 7-9; Meister (1970): fig. 2. The textile was reconstructed in occasion of a Roman exhibition: Catalogue Roma (1994): 43. In the Chinese sources there is a description of a fabric very close to the Emperor Shōmu banner: Harada (1969): 6-7. For a similar textile with just a single hunter on a pegasus shooting a lion: Ghirshman (1982): fig. 445 (recently published in: Flood (1991): fig. 11). On "Western-style" textiles in Japan: Simmons (1962); Matsumoto (1984).

42 Shepherd (1964): 77 fig. 16; Fukai (1974).

43 Sun Ji recognizes that in Sogdian roundels the animal is always single while the confronted animals are characteristic of Chinese art: Sun Ji (1993): 342, note 4.

44 Belenitskii, Marshak (1981): 48-49.

45 Shepherd, Henning (1959); Беленицкий, Бентович (1961); Serjeant (1972): 97-103; Иерусалимская (1972); Brentjes (1979): 256-58; Shepherd (1981); Yokohari (1991): 67-69; Von Wilkens (1992): cat. 19-26; Jiang Boqin (1994): 211-17; Santoro (1994): 44; Muthesius (1997): 94-100.

46 Marshak (forthcoming).

47 Shepherd, Henning (1959): fig. 1. The specimen has as terminus ante quem the first quarter of 8th century A.D.: Shepherd (1981): 116. According to Marak the inscription is a note dropped on the silk fragment by a Sogdian merchant but it does not concern the silk itself: Marshak (forthcoming).

48 Иерусалимская (1972): appendix I ; Shepherd (1981): 119-122; Wardwell (1989); Catalogue New York (1997): 21-29; Muthesius (1997): 94-98.

49 Shepherd (1981): 114; Catalogue New York (1997): cat. Fig. 5.

50 Compareti (forthcoming 2004).

51 The claws thrust in the pedestal are not depicted at Afrāsyāb but this is a common representation among the Astana silks: Xinjiang Uighurs' Autonomous Province Museum (1972.b): fig. 55; Stein (1921, reprint 1980): Ch.xlviii.001, pl. CXVI. For other characteristics of Sogdian textiles: Catalogue New York (1997): cat. 5.

52 Neumann (1997): figs. 4,5; Shepherd, Henning (1959): figs. 4,5; Otavsky (1998.a): figs. 1, 4-7, 10. The floral decoration in Sogdian art displaying a Chinese taste can be observed for example in the paintings at Varakha (see: Catalogue Milano (1987): cat. 209-211) and in a silver plate (see: Маршак (1971): figs. 10, 20), both on reproductions of textiles. See also: Beleniskii, Marshak (1981): 48; Yokohari (1991): 73; Naymark (1992): 757; Mode (1993): 77-86.

53 Jeroussalimskaja (1993): 115-16.

54 Maenchen-Helfen (1943): 362, note 55; Frye (1984) 352; Sims-Williams (1996): 50; Yoshida (1996): 70-73.

55 Broomhall (1966): 19. On the decadence among the Sogdian traders in Dunhuang due to the Arab conquest of Transoxiana: Sims-Williams (1996): 59. See also: Boulnois (1966): 152. Specimens of so-called zandanījī were found in Dunhuang, suggesting that trade relations in Islamic times existed also with the east, maybe due to the rise of the Samanids: Stein (1921, reprint 1980): pls. CXV, Ch.009, CXVI, Ch.Xlviii.001; Riboud, Vial (1970): 201, 213, 221-24, 229-30 (EO.1199, EO.1203/E, EO.1207, EO.1209 ter). A silk fragment embellished with crescents containing a script from the Turfan area could be considered another late Sogdian product. Anyway, according to the weaving techniques it does not seem a specimen of the so-called zandanījī and an appropriate deciphering still lacks: Jiang Boqin (1994): fig. at p. 219 (the figure is on the cover of the same book in full colour); Zhao Feng (1996): fig. 1.4, pl. 4.4; Sheng (1998): 154-55.

56 Silks not belonging to the Sogdian-Turfanese typology, embellished with the same pattern of two dragons besides a coloumn were discovered at Astana, Mount Mug (not far from Penjikent, Western Tajikistan, imported in Marak’s opinion: Marak (1997): 325; Shepherd, Henning (1959): 35), Shōsō-in, Arglykty (Tuva Region, Russia), Katanda (Altaj Mountains, Russia), and Nainte-Sue (Northern Mongolia): Lubo-Lesnitchenko, Sakamoto (1987); Сакамото, Лубо-Лесниченко (1989): 59; Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 9. Single boar heads enclosed in pearl roundels were found at Jargalanty (Mongolia): Евтюхова (1957): figs. 9, 10.

57 Scerrato (1961).

58 Tucci (1974): 300-301; Tucci (1975): 79, 120, fig. 159; Vitali (1990): pl. 22-27, figs. 7 a, b- 9; Casey Singer (1994): fig. 20 (for a better picture see: Casey Singer (1996): 113, fig. 9); Henss (1994): fig. 9; Henss (1996): 35, fig. 3; Heller (1998.a): 113-118, figs. 51-55; Casey Singer (1998): fig. 3; Neumann (1999): fig. 6a; Heller (1999): fig. 78, pls. 47, 48-50.

59 Karmay (1977): fig. 1. In Ladakh, the Sumtsek and the Dukhang at Alchi display many painted panels embellished with pearl roundels: Pal (1988): ill. S 47-S 50; Goepper (1993); Goepper (1996.a): pls. 6, 23, 43; Gopper (1996.b): 79; as the Sumtsek and the Kakani Chorten at Mangyu (without pearls): Linrothe (1994): figs. 11, 17; and the Dukhang of the Tabo Buddhist complex (Himachal Pradesh, India): Klimburg-Salter (1996): figs. 5, 9; Wandl (1999).

60 Malag�(1996): 82. For Amy Heller this is a faithfull reproduction of the garment in use at the Tibetan court: Heller (1998.a): 109.

61 Karmay (1975); Karmay (1977). Amy Heller reports that the Tibetan minister arrived in 634 to ask a Chinese princess for his king: Heller (1999): 12.

62 Richardson (1975); Reynolds (1995).

63 During the period of their expansion in Central Asia, the sPu rgyal had relations with the Sogdians: Fang-Kuei Li (1957-58); Hoffman (1971); Serjeant (1972): 220; Richardson (1975); Uray (1983); Beckwith (1987): 92-95; Jiang Boqin (1994): 266; Heller (1999): 9, 11-13, 54; Marshak (1999): 109, note 13; De La Vaissi�e (2002): 152-153. Heller reports among the findings at Dulan "Sogdian and Persian silks": Heller (1998.a): 101. One of the consort of the Tibetan king Khri lde gtsug brtsan (712-755) was a princess from Samarcand: Twitchett (1979): 432. In fact, the Tibetans intervened in Sogdiana, allied with the Turks, against Arab invaders: Beckwith (1987): 108-110. On relations between Tibet and Sogdiana even before the period of the sPu rgyal dynasty: Кузнецов (1998) 270-282.

64 On the sinification of the Sogdians resident in China: Sims-Williams (1996): 58-60; Lu Qingfu (1996). On the representation of Sogdian divinities with Chinese symbols at Dunhuang during the 9th-10th century: Grenet, Zhang Guangda (1996): 179, fig. 1.

65 Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 10; Zhao Feng (1995): 182. This prohibition is not an isolated case in the history of China. Usually the tabooed characters corresponded to the personal name of the ruling Emperor. In the compilation of their records, the Nestorian priests were very careful in avoiding such characters expecially if the period was not favourable to foreigners; on the other hand, the prohibition edicts of this kind are very useful to fix the date of many records: Enoki (1964): 70, 74-76. Evidently, the edict was another restriction wanted by the minister Li Mi (722-789) in order to limit the privileges accorded to the foreigners resident at Chang'an, expecially Persians and Sogdians: Dalby (1979): 593; Rong Xinjiang (2000): 139. On the power of the Sogdians at the Chinese court: Beckwith (1987): 146, note 17. The reaction occurred also because of the favour that such foreign decorations had during the reign of the empress Wu (684-705): Lubo-Lesnichenko (1999): 465; Rong Xinjiang (2000): 143.

66 Yokohari (1991): 42; Yokohari (1997): 102-103. J. Rawson noted that "after the mid-eighth century […] foreign relief ornament lost its prominent place in Chinese ceramic design": Rawson (1991): 149-50. This suggests that, also in other artistic spheres, the importance of foreign influence (expecially Iranian) was declining.

67 Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 10.

68 Leslie (1981-83): 288-93; Lin Wushu (2000): 113. In 878 A.D. a great number of foreign merchants were massacred in Canton: Schafer (1951): 407; Broomhall (1966): 50; Colless (1969-70): 24. All these foreign religions in addition to Islam (introduced later) reached China because professed by highly-mobile merchants who traded with the Far East. On the negative attitude of Confucianism towards the merchants: Twitchett (1968): 64-69.

69 Harada (1969): 7; Wu Min (1984); Yokohari (1986): 89; Lubo-Lesnitchenko, Sakamoto (1987): 93-94; Сакамото, Лубо-Лесниченко (1989): 68-69; Yokohari (1991): 57; Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 5-6; Yokohari (1997): 101-102; Heller (1998.a): 108-13; Heller (1998.b): 91; Otavsky (1998.b): 199-200; Sheng (1999.a): 151; Sheng (1999.b): 47; Heller (1999): figs. 1, 16; Lubo-Lesnichenko (1999): 466.

70 Сакамото, Лубо-Лесниченко (1989): 68; Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 2; Zhao Feng, Simcox (1997): 85; Catalogue New York (1997): 23, 24; Heller (1998.a): 112-13 and note 73; Heller (1998.b): 91; Lubo-Lesnichenko (1999): 462; De La Vaissi�e (2002): 151. The carachter He designates his family as native of Gava, in central Sogdiana or, anyway in a region correlated to Sogdiana: Shiratori (1928): 113-17; Gnoli (1980): 63, 121-27; Grenet (1993.b): 91 and note 28. K. Yokohari reports that the beginning of the execution of such silks was 581 A.D.: Yokohari (1991): 56, 67. Before the Tang several Central Asian artists are recorded in Chinese sources. In fact, one of the most famous painters active in China was a Sogdian: Mortari Vergara Caffarelli (1971): 64-65, note 5.

71 Yokohari (1991): 71; Zhao Feng, Simcox (1997): 84.

72 Gyllesv�d (1957); Melikian-Chirvani (1976); Medley (1976); Rawson (1982); Rawson (1991); Johnson Laing (1995): 15-23; Luo Feng (1998); Heller (1999): fig. 14; Marshak (1999); Compareti (2000): 342.

73 Pang (1998/99); Jiang Boqin (2000): 95.

74 Fong (1978); ibid. (1984); Zhang Hongxiu (1995): fig. 21. The Chinese people in the Sogdian paintings of Afrāsyāb do not wear garments embellished with pearl roundels: Албаум (1975): fig. 6, 17-18, 21; Mode (1993): 47-48, 78-86; Marshak (1994): 6, 9; Kageyama (1998): fig. 1. On the women garments in Tang China: Sun Ji (1984); Sun Ji (1996): figs. 2-3.

75 At present, the silks are kept in the museum of the temple but none of the exposed ones displays pearl roundels. The information that a small group with such decorations exists is due to Zhao Feng (1996): 17. Anyway, in the study of the fabrics led by Wang Yarong, it appears just the description of one sample with a string of pearls enclosing a swastica: Wang Yarong (1988): 28. On general informations about the recovery: Zhu Qixin (1990); Jera-Bezard, Maillard (1994): 148-49.

76 Whitfield, Farrer (1990): 111.

77 Zhao Feng, Simcox (1997): 80.

78 Dunhuang Researches Institute (1972): fig. 8; Knauer (1983): 35-46.

79 Krahl (1989): fig. 11 (see also: Bromberg (1983): 264, pl. XII fig. 23; Sheng (1998): 148; Jiang Boqin (2000): 95). On references to "Sasanian" roundels decorations in Korean art: Kim Won-Yong (1986): 252-53; Im. Hyo-Jai (1992): 17. For tiles with pearl roundels in Korean art dated 8th-10th century A. D.: Mizuno (1974): 199-200. At least one specimen of this tiles displays two confronted birds on a vegetal pedestal enclosed in a pearl roundel: Kim Won-Yong (1986): pl. 9-71. On Iranian influence on Korean metalwork: Bush (1984): 62-65. For Japanese specimens: Ooka (1973): fig. 57; Mizuno (1974): figs. 201-204; Elisseeff (1976): fig. 144.

80 Krahl (1989): fig. 10.a.

81 Sullivan (1969): pl. 104.b.

82 Eliseeff (1983): fig. 140; Shen Congwen (1992): pl. 92.1, 92.2; Kuhn (1993): fig. 3, 4, cat. 22; Catalogue Paris (1995.b): cat. 54.

83 Hartman (1969): fig. 7.7b; Rawson (1982): fig. 66.

84 Lovell (1975): fig. 30; published with other specimens in: Rawson (1991): fig. 7.

85 Valenstein (1997/8): fig. 1; Rawson (1991): fig. 8.

86 Cen Rui (1983): fig. 1; Karetzky (1986): figs. 4, 12-15. On possible decorations on a Northern Wei coffin from Ningxia imitating "Sasanian models": Luo Feng (1990): figs. 15-18.

87 Cen Rui (1983): 78-80. For a depiction of the makara in Sogdian art: Беленицкий (1959): pl. 32.

88 Karetzky (1986): 92-96; Karetzky (2001): 362-367. On the Sogdian calendar and astronomy: Panaino (1990); Marshak (1992); Grenet (1995): 114-18.

89 Johnston Laing (1981): 69; Malag�(1996): 75-79.

90 Shen Congwen (1992): fig. 118.

91 Lubo-Lesnichenko (1995); Lubo-Lesnichenko (1999): 461.

92 Лубо-Лесниченко (1987): 93-94; Yokohari (1991): 73; Zhao Feng (1992): 142, Heller (1998.a): 113. The motif disappeared in China also because of the imperial edict issued between 766 and 799: Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 10. At Dunhuang the last pearl roundel patterned fabric is dated 943 A.D. So, in the periodization proposed by Lubo-Lesničenko, "the early materials from Astana represent the beginning stage of the development of this ornamental composition. The finds from late Astana and from the Shōsō-in illustrate the full flourishing of the Sasanian medallions and the textiles from the caves of Dunhuang testify to the gradual decline of this motif": Lubo-Lesnitchenko (1993): 10.

93 Trilling (1985); Mih�yi (1994): 123.

94 Tezcan (2002).

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