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Patchwork of silk, probably a kasaya, Tang Dynasty, 8th-9th century. The patchwork comprises seven vertical columns of fabric enclosed by a border of plain silk printed with blue foliated scrolls. Within the border there are woven or printed silks with a rosette design. The dominating floral motif embroidered in the centre has largely disintegrated, revealing the silk patches used for strengthening. Only two small white panels of floral embroidery still remain intact. The magnificence of the materials used and the presence of purple suggest that the wearer must have been a priest of high rank. Sir Marc Aurel Stein originally suggested that this large patchwork was an altar-cloth, though it has now been identified as a kasaya, a Buddhist monastic robe, and the symmetrical arrangement of patches along a central vertical axis is consistent with the prescribed form for a kasaya. OA, MAS 856

British Museum, London, Great Britain