Portions of stucco relief figures
front wall decoration of Buddhist shrines,
'Ming-oi' Site, Kara-shahr.
Source: Plate CXXXV, Serindia : vol.4 by Marc Aurel Stein
Sec. iii] RELIEVOS AND FRESCOES FROM N.W. PORTION OF 'MING-OI' p1193, Serindia : vol.3 by Marc Aurel Stein
It is impossible to guess what scene or scenes, sacred or quasi-profane, the frieze as a whole may have represented.
But certainly the proportion of pieces belonging to warrior figures is striking.
Plate CXXXV shows one of these almost completely reconstructed from detached pieces (Mi. xii. 008, 0010, 0015, 0017).
We see there the warrior's head and body protected by scale armour of a type closely resembling that actually illustrated by the lacquered leather scales excavated in the Tibetan fort of Mīrān.3
A particularly interesting feature of the armour is the shield, which is represented in several varieties.
One, evidently meant for leather, is round and fitted with five bosses (Mi. xii. 0018, Plate CXXXV).
Another, plainly intended as of metal, has its centre occupied by an elaborate Gorgoneion relief (Mi. xii. 0020, Plate CXXXV).
That this goes back to a classical prototype is quite certain.
What adds to the interest of this shield is that it definitely proves the corresponding grotesque head, which is found so frequently as an appliqué ornament on terra-cotta vases from Yōtkan and other Khotan sites, to be directly derived from the model of the classical Gorgon's head.4
3 See above, pp. 463 sqq. For an analysis of all details concerning the armour displayed by these mail-clad warrior figures of the 'Ming-oi' Site, cf. *Mi. xi. 00109 in List below.
Their height, when complete, must have been 16 inches.
4 See for specimens Pl. I; Ancient Khotan, ii. Pls. XLIII, XLIV.
Sec. iv] LIST OF ANTIQUES EXCAVATED AT 'MING-OI' SITE pp1209-10, Serindia : vol.3 by Marc Aurel Stein
*Mi. xi. 00109. Stucco relief head; one from a series of figs. of warriors.
Fig. from crown of head to end of coat of mail measured 16½" (feet and crest are always wanting), stood upright, and was seen full front.
Face has fierce expression well rendered; highly arched black eyebrows are drawn down and in at their inner corners, making vertical furrows in forehead and a ridge across root of nose.
Eyes prominent with heavily marked lids, black lashes, and round protruding black eyeballs; nose slightly aquiline with sharply cut nostrils; mouth small and curved, full, with prominent hanging lower lip; chin cleft.
Face a rather long oval, coloured red (with a good deal of ochre).
Small black moustache and imperial; lips crimson.
On head a close-fitting helmet, of lacquered leather plates fitted with crest and cheek-pieces; a narrow plate hangs from rim down forehead to root of nose.
Rim of helmet plain; three diminishing rows of plates, whose curved overlapping edges run right to left from front medial line, round helmet off to solid ring from which a bevelled boss rose to form base of crest.
Over the temples came cheek-pieces, which were apparently continued round back of head.
They were formed of two horizontal bands each containing two rows of leather scales, bordered and divided by plain rims; the plain border with a certain amount of scale-armour was continued under chin and united with gorget.
From sides projected grotesque earpieces, formed of double incurved volute.
The whole helmet seems to have been painted one colour, red or green.
For heads, see Mi. xi. 00110-11, and xii. 009-13; cf. also Mi. xi. 00112.
Body wholly cased in scale-armour.
From close under chin a smooth gorget (green) protected neck and upper part of chest.
The coat of mail had a heavy rolled border; it came high up at back of neck, spread out to sq. points on shoulders and curved to meet just below collar-bone; from the fastening the two edges ran down together to belt.
Sleeves were long.
Throughout two horizontal rows of scales form a unit and are divided from next two by a raised band; each unit is painted green, or red, or gilded, colours usually alternating.
Border red. The belt is a double cord, red. Below it hangs a sq. cord-piece, with three double rows of smaller scales.
The trousers apparently made in same piece; they are flat and baggy and have fringed ends reaching about half-way down shin.
For bodies, see Mi, xi. 00112-13 ; xii. 0014-17 ; xv. 0018.
In his L. hand the warrior held a round shield fitted with arm-straps (xii. 0020).
This was either plain with five bosses and incised double circle round edge (centre blue, border and bosses red; xii. 0018, 0019), meant clearly of leather; or a bead border was added (xi. 00114);
or the centre was occupied with an elaborate Gorgoneion relief (xii. 0020-2; xvii. 007).
In this the head, with flame-like hair, prominent ears, prominent eyes set in boldly modelled brows, high cheek-bones, turned-up nose, grinning mouth with fang-like teeth and suggestion of lolling tongue, certainly goes back in all details to a classical prototype.
This relief may be intended for metal; it is painted green against a red border.
The L. hand moreover held a lance, added in wood (xii. 008).
This scale-armour, on which holes for thongs are clearly shown, is obviously of type of actual armour frs. from Mīrān fort (M. I. ix. 002, etc.). Mi. xi. 00111 (Pl. CXXXV) shows a variant of the helmet.
In Mi. xi. 00109, head, ears, and plume missing ; plastered with mud. Chin to forehead 2".
Referenced as fig. 64. in Bilderatlas zur Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Mittel-Asiens : vol.1 by Albert von Le Coq
Persische Helme mit Flügeln und Nasal. Langer Plättchenpanzer mit Wehrkragen. Die Plättchen sind an einer Seite z artig ausgeschnitten. Kleiner Schamschurz. Schild persisch-indischer Art, wie bis vor kurzem getragen. ōrčuq. Nach Sir A. Stein, Serindia, Bd. IV, Tafel CXXXV. 8. Jhdt. (?).
Persian helmet with wings and nasal. Long armour plates with defensive collar. The plates are cut out on one side like a z. Small loincloth. Shield Persian-Indian style, as carried until recently. ōrčuq. According to Sir A. Stein, Serindia, IV, Plate CXXXV. 8th Century. (?).
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Tarim Basin Frescos