An Exploration of a Textile Pattern: Pearl Roundels Joined by Smaller Pearl Discs

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1990

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Abstract

Scattered around the world are a number of textiles patterned with repeat systems of pearl roundels joined by smaller pearl discs at the tangential points. The roundels bear animal motifs similar to those represented in royal Sasanian and post-Sasanian art. Based on the iconographic and stylistic similarity to the Sasanian motifs, and also because of the popularity of the pearl roundel as a framing device in Sasanian and post-Sasanian stucco and metalwork, art historians have attributed these textile fragments to Sasanian manufacture, usually dating them to the sixth or seventh century. However, in the late-Sasanian rock sculpture at Taq-i- Bustan, in western Iran, where twenty-two textile patterns are represented, there are no such textile patterns. Further to the East though, in Soviet Central Asia, recent excavations have uncovered wall-paintings with representations of textiles patterned with pearl roundels joined by smaller pearl discs. Textile fragments and a complete costume have been unearthed at sites in China and the Caucasus. In light of these discoveries, some scholars have assigned Central Asia, particularly Sogdiana, as the provenance for these textiles. This thesis examines the unique common characteristics shared by the textiles patterned with pearl roundels joined by smaller pearl discs which identifies them as a group. It suggests that their repeat pattern is most-likely the result of the adaptation of a style of Sasanian coins to the weaving process. Their influence on repeat patterns of floral roundels joined by . smaller floral discs awaits future research.

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