Jade Han

Hubei Provincial Museum

Hubei Provincial Museum

Han was a burial object that was put in the dead person’s mouth. Ancient Chinese believed that if people are buried with a piece of jade in their mouth, they would continue to enjoy what they had when they were alive. It is also believe that jade keeps the body from rotting. It is recorded that people used to put rice, shell and pearl in dead people’s mouth.

A Shang Dynasty tomb was unearthed in Dasikong, Anyang, Henan, where archaeologists found eight jade Han. In the east Zhou Dynasty, jade Han were usually in the shape of animals and in the Han dynasty, they were made into shapes of cicada, bearing the hope that the soul would endure without the dead body, just as a cicada abandon its slough.

In the mouth and skull of the marquis, 21 jade pieces have been found, including six jade cows, 4 sheep, three pigs, three ducks, three fish and two dogs. Despite that they are as tiny as rice or beans, these Han are delicately carved. Even the fins on the jade fish and the bristles on the pigs are clearly visible.

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  • Title: Jade Han
  • Location: Unearthed from Leigudun Tomb (No.1 ), Suizhou, Hubei
  • Medium: Jade
  • Excavation Date: 1978
  • Dynasty: Around 433 B.C. (the East Zhou Dynasty and the early Warring States Period)
  • Dimensions: Size of the largest Han: 2.1cm×0.2 cm×1 cm


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