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The Eternal Dimension——Mawangdui Han Tombs Art Exhibition

Date:October 29, 2015-Janauary 28, 2016


Add:No.210, Lane 2255, Luoshan Rd, Pudong



As a highlight of the China Shanghai International Arts Festival, the exhibition featuring nearly 400 antiques from Mawangdui Han Tombs one and three at Long Museum Pudong is much anticipated.

In fact, the historic relics unearthed from Han Tombs at Mawangdui are relevant to many legendary and touching stories.

The Han Tombs are located at Wulipai in the eastern suburb of Changsha. They are about four kilometers from the downtown area. It was recorded that this site was once the family graveyard for Ma Yin, King of the Chu State during the Five Dynasties Period, and therefore acquired the name Mawangdui meaning Mound of King Ma.


But according to Tai Ping Huan Yu Ji’s recording about Changsha, Mawangdui was the graveyard of Lady Cheng and Lady Tang, two concubines of Emperor Jingdi of the Han Dynasty. They were buried by Liu Fa, Prince of the Changsha State. Thus this graveyard was called “Shuang Nv Zhong” meaning the Tomb of Two Ladies.

The authentic owner of this mysterious graveyard has been uncertain before Mawangdui Tombs were unearthed. At the end of 1971, No.366 Hospital of Hunan Provincial Military Region was to construct underground wards and storerooms at Mawangdui. 

Before the construction, Hunan Provincial Museum excavated these tombs, revealing the myths buried in this thousand-year underground palace. The opening of Tomb One is of square shape, measuring 19.5 meters by 17.8 meters, with a dipper-shaped pit underneath. Over 1800 cultural relics of lacquer wares, textiles and paintings on silk as well as a well-preserved female corpse were unearthed. 


Tomb Three is similar in shape with Tomb One. It is well preserved with more than 1,000 cultural relics of inscriptions and paintings on silk, inscribed on bamboo slips, lacquer wares and textiles unearthed. The corpse in this tomb, however, was only a skeleton. It’s identified that the corpse belongs to a man who died in his early thirties. He was 1.85 meters tall.  Model of Filling Materials in Tomb One and Three are well-preserved due to several reasons. At the bottom of the tomb is a 15cm-thick layer of white filling clay.

Covering the whole outer coffin chamber is a layer of 40cm thick charcoal weighing more than 5 tons. On top of the charcoal is a 1.3cm thick layer of white filling clay. Then earth is rammed every 0.5 meter on its top. Charcoal serves as a moisture-proof substance. It takes in the small amount of water in the chamber. White filling clay is termed montmorillenite, a material for porcelains. It has high plasticity and low permeability. Thus with effective burying and sealing, the corpse, coffins and abundant burial objects are kept impact in the tomb.

According to the organizer, the exhibition provides an abundant knowledge of how the ancient people thought about life and death, happiness and universe nearly 2,000 years ago. Some of the items will be first exhibited outside Hunan Province. 

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