This 1,000-Year-Old Shirt Has A $700,000 Story To Tell

by MR Magazine Staff

Why would a shirt be worth 500,000 pounds (about $701,720)? First, because it is 1,000 years old. Second, because it is from a lost empire. And third, because it is proof of the way clothes have been used to express power and aspiration for millenniums. Or so believes Sotheby’s, which is auctioning the one-of-a-kind golden silk samite shirt on April 25 in London. “A piece like this and in this kind of condition is indescribably rare,” said Benedict Carter, the head of auction sales for the Middle East department of Sotheby’s. The shirt is decorated with ducks wearing scarves and holding pearl necklaces in their beaks, encased in octagon motifs featuring hearts, among other shapes. These patterns reveal the shirt’s provenance: It was likely owned by a roving dignitary or courtier of the Sogdian Empire. Filled with traders who bartered slaves, horses, perfumes and more along the ancient Silk Road, the Sogdian kingdom was centered in modern-day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan more than 1,000 years ago, and died out in the 10th century. And that is just the beginning of the story written in its seams. Read more at The New York Times.