Lacquered suitcase with Painting of Hou Yi - Part1

Hubei Provincial Museum

Hubei Provincial Museum
Wuhan, China

In the time of legendary emperor Tang Yao, there were ten suns on the sky and people suffered a drought and famine. A man named Hou Yi shot off nine suns and saved all on ground. The pattern on the suitcase pictures this story and provides original material for this legends Warring States Period.

The suitcase is consist of a arc-shaped lid and a square case that symbolizes Chinese idea of the world where sky is rounded and earth is square. The suitcase has a black lacquer base and on the lid painted Hou Yi shooting the sun. In the painting, suns are painted as three-feet ravens. In the painting, Hou Yi already shot down one of the ravens. On the end of his arrow tied a rope, which is a common feature on ancient arrows. The rope enables a hunter to drag back what he shoots down.

On both sides of the lid painted two entwining snakes with two heads and human faces. This could be the legendary figures, Fuxi and Nvwa. The legend is that a flood destroyed human race and only Fuxi and Nvwa was left, together they produced human. On the suitcase there are also mushroom shaped cloud, beside which writes “Min Si Wei Fang, Ri Chen Yu Wei, Xing Sui Zhi Si, Suo Shang Ruo Chen, Qin Se Chang He”, meaning that people offer sacrifice to Fang Xiu (the constellation that was roughly today’s Scorpio, Libra, Ophiucus and Lupus) and pray for fine weather and a prosperous life.


  • Title: Lacquered suitcase with Painting of Hou Yi - Part1
  • Location: Unearthed from Leigudun Tomb (No.1 ), Suizhou, Hubei
  • Medium: Lacquer ware
  • Excavation Date: 1978
  • Dynasty: Around 433 B.C. (the East Zhou Dynasty and the early Warring States Period)
  • Dimensions: 69 cm×49 cm×37 cm

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