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The Art of Patterned Floor Tiles
Author:by Lou Jie, Liang Xushu, and Huang Yuanwei Published:2014.3.23 Views:

These floor tiles found inside or in front of the Dunhuang caves are decorated in low relief. The main patterns usually consist of an eight-petaled lotus combined with other designs, such as vines, scrolling clouds, heart-shaped motifs, flames, or precious beads. Other than floral and geometric patterns, there are also animal designs like horses, lions, and camels. There are as many as eighteen patterns found on the tiles unearthed in front of the caves.

These patterned floor tiles are the valuable products of the highly developed integration of two ancient skills— painting and carving.

1.Floor tile with pomegranate design

Tang dynasty (618-907), Clay; H. 33,W. 31, D. 5.5 cm

Collection of the Dunhuang Research Academy, Z.0069

In the center of the tile is a flower in full blossom with curling petals, surrounded by four pomegranate designs at the corners.

2.Floor tile with eleven-petaled lotus

Tang dynasty (618-907), Clay; H. 36,W. 35,D. 6.5 cm

Collection of the Dunhuang Research Academy, Z.1134

The design on this tile is a lotus flower with eleven curling lotus petals and a bud in the center formed by four heart-shaped motifs.

3.Floor tile with lotus flower and linked-pearl design

Tang dynasty (618-907), Clay; H. 35, W. 35,D. 5.5 cm

Collection of the Dunhuang Research Academy, Z.1197

At the center of this tile is a roundel of linked pearls surrounded by a double-layered, eight-petaled lotus flower. Many small dots are added to enhance the splendor of the design.

4.Floor tile with ruyi and scrolling vines

Tang dynasty (618-907), Clay; H. 35.5,W. 35,D. 6.5 cm

Collection of the Dunhuang Research Academy, Z.1363

The design on this tile consists of a small eight-petaled lotus at the core and two surrounding layers of scrolls which take on the shapes of floral plants, clouds, or ruyi (an auspicious object).