Mongolian, 13th - 14th century
Found at the Onggut tomb site
Silk with gold brocade
142 x 246 cm

Click to enlarge
Detail view of robe lining and line drawing of textile pattern

Images courtesy of the Inner Mongolian Museum, Huhehaote (copyrights reserved)

This robe, made from yellow silk embroidered with gold thread, was found in the Onggut tomb site a Dasujixiang Mingshui, Daerhanmao Mingan United Banner. The tomb was excavated in 1978, uncovering a number of silk garments in a marvelous state of preservation. In 1970 a similar robe was found at the Yanhu site in the Tianshan Mountains; this fact, along with the knowledge that the Uighur peoples of Yanhu were famous for their gold brocade work, has led some experts to suggest this robe is of Uighur manufacture.1

The design decorating the lining, however, is probably of Iranian origin. As can be seen in the detail view, the brocade is worked into the figures of two rampant lions wearing crowns, surrounded by patterns of flowers and vines. This may have been inspired by the images of rearing lions depicted in scenes of royal hunts, a motif (along with the vines and flowers) commonly reproduced in Sassanian brocades and silver vessels.

(1) Adam T. Kessler, Empires Beyond the Great Wall: The Heritage of Genghis Khan (Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 1993), pp. 160-1.