Eastern Central Asia / Tapestry with Dragons and Flowers / 11th?12th centuryEastern Central Asia
Tapestry with Dragons and Flowers
11th?12th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Central Asian; East Central Asian
Creator Dates/Places: Eastern Central Asia
Creator Name-CRT: Eastern Central Asia
Title: Tapestry with Dragons and Flowers
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1199
Creation Date: 11th?12th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Silk and metallic thread tapestry (kesi)
Dimensions: 21 1/8 x 13 in. (53.5 x 33 cm)

The vigorous dragons that animate this fragment of silk tapestry move boldly through a field of vivid flowers on a purple ground. Dragons are ultimately of Chinese origin, but in this particular form, with a snout shaped like an elephant's trunk, the influence of the makara, an Indian sea monster, is apparent, and the dragon is clearly a Central Asian hybrid creature. Along with the elongated snout, the treatment of the tail, which hooks under a hind leg, is found in the dragons of Central Asian art and also of Chinese decorative arts of the Tang period (618?907). In Central Asia, the form continued unchanged until at least the Yuan period (1279?1368).

The tapestry's background reveals other typically Central Asian aspects, such as the floral ground itself, which consists of myriad plants in various scales arranged in a boisterous composition not commonly found as a mere background pattern. One three-part floral combination in particular?lotus blossom, lotus leaf in profile, and trefoil leaf?constitutes a basic motif of the decorative arts of eastern Central Asia, beginning perhaps in the eleventh century and continuing until at least the fourteenth. The brilliant use of color for both realistic and decorative effects is also characteristic of Central Asian decorative arts.

Other extant Central Asian tapestry-woven silks incorporate bands or cloud-collar shapes, suggesting these textiles were meant for costume, probably that of the Uighurs, a Turkic people. When their empire fell in 840, the Uighurs scattered throughout North China, Mongolia , Manchuria, and Central Asia. During the Southern Song dynasty (1127?1279), they were known for wearing resplendently beautiful robes of silk tapestry.

AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 1987.275
Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1987
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
Rights: http://www.metmuseum.org/education/er_photo_lib.asp
AMICA ID: MMA_.1987.275
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved

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