Due to groundwater infiltration, the tomb was found completely immersed in the water, which protected the lacquer objects from being damaged by the oxygen. After the excavation, Hubei Provincial Museum carried out a long research of dehydration of those objects containing a large amount of water, so that today they still shine as they did over two thousand years ago.
The duck’s head can be turned into different directions since it is connected to the body via mortise. On the back there is a square lid with empaistic dragons, under which there is storing space. The duck has a black lacquer color base.
Its neck and stomach is painted with red lacquer and decorated with small yellow circles. Jagged lines in red and yellow are painted on the wings and the tail and dragon scales are painted on the feet.
The suitcase has a black lacquer base, upon which painted red stars, cloud, cross and sun-shaped patterns.On two sides of the case painted two of the Four Mythical Creatures: the Black Dragon that symbolizes the East and the White Tiger that symbolizes the West. These creatures were also believed to appear as astrological images in the sky.
The character “Xiu” means to rest at night. It is also an astronomy word in traditional Chinese. Ancient Chinese people divided the sky into 28 Xiu based on the fact that the “handle” of the Big Dipper rotates over time.
Each Xiu includes a number of stars and the relative orientation of the Xiu and the Big Dipper changes as seasons change. When the “handle” of the Big Dipper points in east, it is Spring time; in south, summer; in west, autumn and in north, winter.
“Jia Yin San Ri”, according to the almanac, on the evening of the third day of the fist (or, thrid) lunar month, Can Xiu(Orion, Lepus, Columba, Eridanus) moved to the center of the sky while the “handle” of the Big Dipper points at south. This phenomenon could only be observed along the Yellow River.This case is, so far, the earliest evidence that matches the record of 28 Xiu and the Four Mythical Creatures.
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.
Dou is a kind of food container. This piece of lacquer ware is actually an imitation of a Bronze Dou yet the vivid decorations made the imitation more artistic than the original one.
The Dou is held high like a goblet and on each side of the Dou there is a large handle with embossed dragons. The Dou has a black lacquer base, above which painted red patterns of net, phoenixes and water chestnuts.
This vessel was unearthed from the east tomb chamber. It has a red lacquer base, upon which painted patterns of rope, dragon and thunder with gold and scarlet lacquer.
The patterns are symmetrical. The vessel looks like an up-side-down cup and on the top there are two holes. The function of the vessel remains mystery.
This Qin is the earliest that ever found in China.
As an early Qin, it already has the basic features that can be seen in Qin from later times,
such as “Yueshan”(the wooden piece the holds up the strings), “Jiaowei”(the slightly slimmer end of the trunk) and “Yanzu”(the wooden piece at the bottom that holds up the Qin).
It consists of a trunk and a removable baseplate, creating a sound chest that magnifies the vibration of the strings. It is painted with merely black lacquer. On one side of the Qin there are 10 string holes yet all the strings had decayed before it was discovered.
On the other side there is a leg at the bottom to tie the string to.
Panpipes were one of the main instruments that were used in court. Panpipes are consist of bamboo pipes of different length, therefor they are sometimes called “Cenci”, meaning different length.
The two panpipes unearthed from the Zeng Hou Yi mausoleum are the earliest that have been discovered. When unearthed, one of them could make at least five scales that were still pleasant to the ear.
In the Zhou Dynasty, instruments were divided by the material they were made of: metal, stone, string, bamboo, calabash, clay, leather and wood. Among these eight categories, Sheng is a “calabash instrument”. Six Sheng were unearthed from the Zeng Hou Yi mausoleum, each consist of a calabash chest and several arundo pipes.
Sound is made by the vibration of the reed pieces that are on the bottom of the pipes when air is blew into Sheng.
The deer is carved out of a whole piece of wood and is decorated with real antlers. The head is rotatable. It was put in the east tomb chamber with musical instruments such as Qin and Se and on its legs there is a vertical hole. Therefor it is inferred that the deer could have been a drum base and was used are a part of the instrument.
Hubei Provincial Museum