Rare Relics Record History of Silk Road
  • Sun, 08/15/2004 - 12:00

URUMQI (Xinhua) - A garment made of fabrics with dazzling gold foil sewn on applique work, dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 24), was recently unearthed from a tomb in Lop Nur, a desolate area in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Chinese archaeologists believe this is the earliest woven material with gold
patterns ever found in China.

The discovery pushes the history of fabric-making with gold back 1,000 years earlier than previously believed," said Li Wenying, an archaeologist
participating in the excavation.

The gold foils were sewn by two different methods. One was to cut coloured
silk in the shape of flower buds, petals, stamen and fruits, which were then
pinned to the collar, sleeves, lower hem, and back of the garment. Then gold foils were pasted on the silk designs. The other way was to spread gold
powder onto the design.

One archaeologist, Zhou Jinling, described the embroidery as distinctive,
dazzling and harmonious in colour."

This garment was one of the 200-plus rare cultural relics unearthed from 32 tombs built in the period between the Han and Jin dynasties (206 BC- AD 420) at the Yingpan Ruins in Lop Nur.

The site lies 200 kilometres east of Loulan, one of the busiest commercial
cities on the ancient Silk Road which served as a transportation artery for
the flow of goods from China to the West more than 2,000 years ago. The
flourishing trade route began to decline in the fourth century.

The recent excavation, which lasted for more than a month, was the continuation of a protective excavation begun in 1995. During the three-year period, Chinese archaeologists opened 32 ancient tombs and cleared more than 100 robbed tombs over a large area.

One-third of the unearthed objects were burial accessories, including
garments, wooden, bronze, and lacquer wares, gold and silver ornaments, and pearls.

The most significant finding was three woolen robes with designs of flying
men, eagles, and snakes woven with a jacquard technique.