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0150 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 150 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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recognized as taken from old worn garments.12 Where the other method was followed, the wrapping was made up of plain cotton or silk garments as seen in v. I and ix. 1. Whether these had been worn before or were specially prepared grave-clothes, could not be decided owing to the decayed condition of the bodies and their coverings.

It is to the first type of wrapping that we owe a good portion of the mass of interesting textile specimens to be surveyed below. It has also conclusively confirmed the explanation given in an earlier chapter of the corresponding and in some ways even more interesting textile relics recovered from the grave-pits of the Lou-lan cemetery L.C." I am unable at present to refer to any Chinese authority mentioning this custom of dressing the dead in old rags. But it seems likely that it may have arisen from that strong reaction against waste of wealth in disposing of the dead which appears to have developed its full strength under the influence of the philosopher Mo-tzû (fifth to fourth century B. c.).14 The casing of the feet of the dead in shoes of paper, as seen in v. 1 ; vi. 3, and the use of paper for sham girdles (v. i) and hats (vi. 3 ; ix. 2), were fully in keeping with this practice.

With regard to the head of the dead the bodies examined furnished evidence of a peculiar custom of distinct antiquarian interest. I refer to the practice of protecting the face with a separate cover, always consisting of an oval or roughly circular piece from a polychrome figured silk, edged with a frill of plain coloured silk. The practice, though by no means general, is attested in so many tombs scattered over the whole of the cemetery area," that its wide prevalence, at least locally, during the period to which these tombs belong cannot be subject to doubt. The interesting fact that the figured silks used for these face-covers are almost without exception cut from stuffs worked in ` Sasanian' style, and hence of West Asiatic origin, will be noticed below in the review of Astâna textiles 16

Another curious custom, evidently closely connected with the use of these face-covers, was that of placing ` spectacles ' over the eyes of the dead, cut out of a thin plate of metal, apparently always silver, lined with silk and having small perforations where they would cover the eyeballs." Such ` spectacles ' were found associated with the majority of face-covers, but not always. Usually they were put below the face-cover ; but in ix. 2. c they were found above it. The definite interpretation of this strange provision for the dead has yet to be discovered. That it could scarcely have been intended merely for the protection of the eyes is suggested by the fact that in the case of i. 3. b such protection was already provided in the shape of two Sasanian silver coins placed over the eyes, while in a few other cases small circular pieces of bark had been used for the same purpose.

Coins placed   It is, perhaps, of some significance that several of the bodies provided with spectacles have
in mouths furnished us with illustrations of another interesting burial custom, that of placing coins of precious

of dead.   metal in the mouth of the dead. In i. 3. a, 5. a, 6. b these were gold pieces, imitations of an issue

of Justinian I (A. D. 527-65); in v. 2 a Sasanian silver coin. The custom of putting gold and other precious articles in the mouth of the dead goes far back into Chinese antiquity. According to Professor De Groot it is connected with a belief that such substances protect the body against decay." But the analogy offered by the coined pieces of gold and silver in the mouths of the dead of Astàna to the obolus for Charon is too striking to be left unnoticed. In fact, a Buddhist story extracted by M. Chavannes from the Chinese Tripitaka, to which that great departed scholar drew my attention in 1916, clearly supports this analogy ; for it directly mentions a piece of gold

Rags of old clothes

used for wrapping.

Face-covers of figured silk.

Metal spectacles placed over eyes.

12 See above, ii. pp. 649 sq., 652 sqq., 66o sqq., 665 sqq. for evidence of such use of old garments in i. 7, 8 ; ii. I ; iii. 2-4 ; vi. I-3 ; vii. I ; ix. 2 ; X. I.

13 Cf. above, i. pp. 231 sqq.

14 See De Groot, Religious System, ii. pp. 659 sqq. ; for records of actual instances of such economy practised in high places during the third century A. D. and later, cf. ibid.,

ii. pp. 692 sqq.

is See above, ii. pp. 646 sqq., 659, 662, 665 sqq. for i. I, 3, 5-6; v. 1, 2 ; vii. I ; 1X. 2-3.

16 Cf. below, ii. pp. 676 sqq.

17 See above, ii. pp. 647 sqq., 662, 665 sq. for i. 3. a, b, 5. a; i. 6. b; vii. I ; ix. 2.1o, C.

18 Cf. De Groot, loc. cit., i. pp. 274 sqq.