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0151 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 151 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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having been put into the mouth of a dead man with the object ` that by the means of this present he may be able to gain the good graces of the king of the Great Mountain (the king of hells) '.19

We may reasonably attribute a similar purpose to the coins found in several of the Astâna tombs, whether copper ` cash ' of the Wu-shu type in i. 3, 6 and Tang issues with the K`ai yiian legend in ix. 2. b, or else substitutes. Among the latter the small silver discs from i. 3, resembling Chinese copper coins with their square holes, are curious as possibly indications of a desire to replace the current coinage of the Empire by something more valuable. On the other hand the strings of paper ` cash ' from iii. 4 and the small circular pieces of bark from ix. 2 take us straight to the paper money still used in present-day Chinese worship of the Manes and attested by literary evidence since the third and fourth centuries A. D.20 There is reason to believe that the principle of avoiding waste in funeral rites, which prompted the substitution of such counterfeits, did not altogether prevent the deposit, on occasion, of articles of some value with the dead of Kao-ch`ang. Small ornaments of silver and gold were, it is true, found by us only in i. 3. But the systematic plundering of the tombs, which frequently included a minute examination of the bodies, would scarcely have been so extensive had it not occasionally met with rewards of some intrinsic value.

The undisturbed condition of ix. 2 affords us a welcome indication of the objects that probably formed the usual deposits within the coffins in these tombs. We have seen that in the case of Fan Yen-shih, ix. 2. b, they were limited to a small basket with a comb, copper coins and some small pieces of silk ; also a paper hat marking rank. Cushions of plain cotton fabrics and waste papers served merely to fill up empty space. The matting placed under the body, and found with other bodies also, may possibly have been first used in some funeral rite. In the case of the ladies buried in the same tomb the articles placed within the coffins comprised small articles of personal use, such as a mirror, comb, scissors, glass beads, cosmetics, &c. Similar petty objects were found also in i. 5, 8. The small lacquered boxes and baskets found in iii. 2; vi. 3, 4; ix. 6 are likely to have held objects such as were placed in the coffins. The model garments of paper or silk, such as the shoes, cuffs, hat, &c., recovered in ii. 1, vi. 1-3, together with the models of arms made of paper or wood, from vi. 2, vii. 2, were all meant to symbolize the dead's personal outfit for another life. They had probably also been deposited within the coffins. That writings, apart from waste papers, had been placed with the dead there is evidence only in the Chinese roll found in the fold of the left arm of ix. 2. c. Whether the fine silk painting to which the fragments found in iii. 4 belonged, and the paper paintings ii. 1, vi. 3 with scenes showing the kind of after life desired for the deceased, were placed within coffins or outside is uncertain.

The custom of providing the dead with food for use in their new abode is well known to have prevailed in China from very early times, but appears to have given way later to sacrificial offerings upon the tomb.2' It is therefore of special interest to find evidence of the ancient practice throughout the Astàna tombs. The manner of depositing these provisions is best illustrated by the arrangements which were observed intact in ix. 2. Here pottery as well as wooden vessels of different shapes painted in a peculiar fashion were found placed near the head ends of the coffins, partly on a low wooden pedestal and partly on a separate little platform. We came upon similar jars, bowls, cups, &c., in i. 1, 2, 4 ; ii. 2 ; iii. 2 ; Viii. I, &c. The wooden vessels were in almost all cases shallow, thus showing clearly that they were made specially for funeral purposes. But the lacquered trays from ii. 2, vi. 3, and that marked Ast. o1 (Pl. XCI), as well as the wooden food bowls of antique shape from ii. 2, Vi. 3, had obviously been in ordinary use before deposit. Fragments of a wooden pedestal similar to that in ix. 2 were found also in iii. 4. Remains of food thus placed outside the coffins

Coins or substitutes placed with the dead.

Objects placed within coffins.

Provision of food for dead.

19 See Chavannes, Cinq cents contes et apologues extraits du Tripilaka chinois, i. p. 248.

20 Cf. De Groot, loc. cit., ii. pp. 712 sqq.

21 Cf. ibid., ii. pp. 382 sqq.