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Sampul tapestry: Wikis


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Probably Greek soldier, blue eyed, possibly with royal headband.
The Centaur, with floral decorations.

The Sampul tapestry is a woolen wall-hanging that was found in Sampul, in the Tarim Basin inside a 3rd-2nd century BCE mass grave.

The tapestry represents a soldier, probably Greek, and a Centaur. It is probably a Greek work from Central Asia (Greco-Bactria), using more than 24 threads of different colors in a technique typical of the West.

The soldier wears a tunique with motifs of rosettes. His headband could be a diadem, the symbol of kingship in the Hellenistic world, as represented on Macedonian and other Greek coins. The presence of the Centaur as a motif, a typical element of Greek mythology, floral motifs, and the realistic rendering further reinforce the identification of the soldier as Greek. The tapestry was, curiously, fashioned into a pair of trousers, indicating that it may have been used as a decorative trophy.

The existence of this tapestry tends to suggest that contacts occurred from around the 3rd century BCE between the Hellenistic kingdoms of Central Asia and the Tarim Basin, at the edge of the Chinese world.

The tapestry is visible in the Xinjiang Museum, Urumqi, China.

See also


  • The Silk Road, Frances Wood, ISBN 0-520-24340-4
  • China's buried kingdoms, Time Life, ISBN 1-84447-050-4


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