Cheng Shaoxuan and Liu Gang. “Newly Unearthed Wooden Figures for Averting Misfortune from Yangzhou.” Bamboo and Silk 2, no.1 (2019): 87-103.

Abstract: This paper introduces several newly unearthed wooden figures from tombs in Yangzhou that date to the Five Dynasties period, and provides complete transcriptions and preliminary studies of the inscriptions on them. By comparing these figures to similar materials discovered elsewhere, this paper argues that the function of putting these kinds of wooden figurines in tombs was to avoid misfortune. The last portion of the paper briefly examines the origin of this custom and beliefs behind it. (source: journal)


Harkness, Ethan. “Seeking an Audience in the Underworld and the Question of the Han Juridical Soul.” Bamboo and Silk 2, no.1 (2019): 16-31.

Abstract: By considering the Kongjiapo gaodishu (“notice to the underworld”) document of 142 B.C.E. in conjunction with the rishu (“daybook”) manuscript from the same tomb and other examples of gaodishu, this article highlights the function gaodishu served to aid the deceased with meeting important figures in a bureaucratized conception of the underworld. Questions are raised about Han burial practices and contemporaneous social institutions such as chattel slavery. (Source: journal)


Jiang Wen. “To Turn Soybeans into Gold: a Case Study of Mortuary Documents from Ancient China.” Bamboo and Silk 2, no.1 (2019): 32-51.

Abstract: The Eastern Han period tomb-quelling text of Zhang Shujing 張叔敬, which dates to 173 CE, confirms that living people believed the dead could use soybeans and melon seeds (huangdou guazi 黃豆瓜子) to pay taxes in the underworld. The knowledge of this only came to light with the discovery of the tablet Taiyuan Has a Dead Man (*Taiyuan you sizhe 泰原有死者), which reveals a previously unknown Qin-Han belief that the dead regarded soybeans as gold. I suggest a direct association between the above two beliefs: soybeans and melon seeds were used as substitutes for small natural gold nuggets to pay taxes in the underworld because of their resemblance in shape and color. Furthermore, a huge quantity of painted clay balls shaped like large soybeans (dashu 大菽) are recorded in the Mawangdui 馬王堆 tomb inventories (qiance 遣策), which indirectly supports this interpretation. (Source: journal)


Tian Tian. “From ‘Clothing Strips’ to Clothing Lists: Tomb Inventories and Western Han Funerary Ritual.” Bamboo and Silk 2, no.1 (2019): 32-86.

Abstract: “Clothing strips” refers to those sections of tomb inventories written on bamboo and wooden slips from the early and middle Western Han that record clothing items. The distinctive characteristics of the writing, check markings, and placement in the tomb of these clothing strips reflect funerary burial conventions of that period. “Clothing lists” from the latter part of the Western Han period are directly related to these clothing strips. Differences in format between these two types of documents are the result of changes in funerary ritual during the Western Han period. (source: journal)