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Caftan

9th century

Silk L 140 cm

Covered with splendid Persian silk, this caftan was probably intended for a chief. Just how valuable such silk was is shown by the fact that the king of Iran was depicted in Sassanian reliefs wearing just such a garment. Here we see a fabulous monster (a senmurv) in a medallion set against an emerald-green background. The caftan is made up of pieces of Soghdian, Byzantine and Chinese textiles.

The cut of the caftan is typical of male garments found in the burial site known as Moshchevaya Balka (in the Northern Caucasus): cut on the straight with a closely fitting upper part and a wide lower part, without a fastening but with side slits made for greater convenience on horseback. Very long fasteners would have been attached to the braid trimmings. The revers are trimmed with fur, and the whole caftan was lined with squirrel fur.

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