Fragment of a warp-faced tabby with ovals, silk, Northern China, 5th-6th century. H: 11.7; L: 50 cm. Inv. no. 16/2005. © The David Collection.

The decoration on this fragment consists of a latticework that forms ovals. The ovals contain various motifs that are mirror images on the longitudinal axis: two camels with camel drivers, two pairs of lions (?), two elephants, and two pagodas with a person or an idol.

The camel driver is especially interesting in our context. Between him and the camel is the Chinese character huu, which means “foreigner” or “non-Chinese.” The caftan-clad man and his Bactrian camel bear witness to the importance attributed by the Chinese to the northern peoples who traveled the caravan routes – the Silk Road – between China and its western neighbors