The Legacy of Genghis Khan
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The Mongols in China
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Textile with Griffins
China, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Lampas weave, silk
Inner Mongolia Museum, Hohhot
cat. 182
[click images for full object view]

Textile with Griffins Textile with Griffins
Textile with Griffins

The Mongols established three centers of textile production through the forced relocation of workers under Genghis Khan and his son and successor Ögödei (reigned 1229–41). Many of these artisans were conscripted from eastern Iranian cities such as Herat, in Khurasan [map], which had been renowned for its silk and gold cloth.


  Textile with Griffins

Textiles such as this remarkable woven panel adorned with griffins illustrate the resulting blend of motifs and styles. While the griffin motif is better known in West rather than East Asian art, the creatures’ curvaceous, scroll-like wings and tails in this textile suggest an influence from east of the Iranian world.

The main decoration is a repeat design of lobed medallions enclosing a pair of rampant addorsed griffins with heads turned back to face one another. The medallions are set against a pattern of hexagons each bearing a rosette formed from seven circles.

  Textile with Griffins


The borders, which are woven in one piece with the main pattern, are decorated with a scrolling peony design.

  Textile with Griffins
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