Frieze from the tomb of Zuo Biao - ROM2004_942_1


Frieze from the tomb of Zuo Biao

Geography: Tomb of Zuo Biao, Mamaozhuang Village, Lishi District, Shanxi Province, China
Date: Dated by inscription to 150 AD
Period: Eastern Han dynasty
36.5 x 191 x 15.5 cm
Object number: 925.25.22.A-P
Credit Line: The George Crofts Collection
On view
Gallery Location:Gallery of Chinese Architecture
DescriptionUntil about the 2nd century BC, tombs featured chambers made of heavy wooden logs. Thereafter, tombs were made of stone and brick. This is a component of an example from the Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 220) discovered in 1925. As it makes clear, tombs of the wealthy were subterranean residences. Adorned with beautifully decorated walls, furnished with everything that the occupant might need in the hereafter. Half of the stone reliefs, originally painted black and red, were brought to Toronto. The wall panels are now preserved in two museums in China, represented in the ROM gallery by photographs of rubbings taken from the original stones. A brick vault originally covered the tomb chamber. Openings between the wall panels gave access to side chambers and the tomb entrance. Although criticized by social reformers, lavish burial customs persisted. Tombs were meant to last, and to be visited by relatives over time with offerings. Stone tablets bearing the occupant's name, dates and a short biography were also deposited in the tomb. These would survive beyond the family lineage. Inscriptions on the columns reads: "The tomb of Zuo Biao from Xihe, courtesy name Yuanyi, Scribe in the Memorials Section at the Military Headquarters of the Leader of Court Gentlemen and Envoy Commissioned with Special Powers."
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