Ningxia mat

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A stylized ‘dorje’ or ‘vajra’ is drawn with tone on tone blues against a vibrant gold yellow ground filling the field of this Chinese seating square woven in the Ningxia district. The vajra (Sanskrit) or dorje (Tibetan) is a rendition of a tantric thunderbolt used as a metaphor on the nature of enlightenment in Mahayana Buddhist traditions. This square was once part of a larger runner of at least five separate squares that was certainly woven as a commission for a Buddhist institution, most likely in Tibet. As these seating runners aged and wore they were frequently cut down into individual pieces and used as individual seating squares by the monks. The combination of a lose thick weft, soft wool pile, and brown frame indicate that it is most likely from the Kangxi period (1654-1722).