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Wooden Figurine
The Wooden Figurine, 65cm tall, dating back to the Warring States Period, was unearthed at No.7 of Changtaiguan Chu Tombs in Xinyang, Henan and is now housed by Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology (hereinafter referred to as HICRA).
In the history of mankind, Chinese civilization has been shining for its uniqueness, and continuing to this very day with vigor and vitality. Being a prominent birthplace of Chinese civilization ....>>Details
Name:Chen Xiaolin
Zhang Tuo
About the Writer: 

Chen Xiaolin: Holding her position at the Artifact Restoration Center of Henan Museum, with an academic title Vice-researcher, dedicating herself to study on preservation and restoration of artifact.

Zhang Tuo: Graduated from Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication with a bachelor's degree, majoring in painting, dedicating himself to the restoration and replication of modern texts.

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Changtaiguan is located about 20 kilometres to the north of Xinyang City, Henan Province. There is an earthen hill stretching over 10 kilometres from south to north. On the hill a great number of ancient tombs have been discovered (Map 1). In October 2002, a large-sized tomb adjacent to State Highway 107 in the Changtaiguan Tombs Conservation Zone was seriously damaged. At the news, HICRA launched a rescue excavation of that tomb (numbered M7) in collaboration with the cultural heritage authorities of Xinyang. As many as 367 burial articles, mostly pottery and lacquer ware, were discovered in the front chamber. This Wooden Figurine (Woman’s Figurine) is among them.

Map 1. Location of M7


107国道 State Highway 107

楚王城 Former Capital of Chu

京广铁路 Beijing-Guangzhou Railway


淮河 The Huaihe River


The figurine is carved out of a log with the technique of circular engravure. The facial features, delicate and elegant, are either painted in ink or engraved. The two arms, which were socketed, have been missing. One fourth of the back has been cut off. As represented, the woman is tall, with an elegant figure. The elapse of more than 2,000 years has not diminished her charm in any way. She is looking down and sideways, with a face, nose and tips realistically sculpted and eyes and eyebrows depicted in ink. At the back of her head there is a drooping chignon. The face is painted dark brown, so are the front of the figurine and part of her back. When it was unearthed, the residue of some dark hair could still be seen; there were also a small amount of silk clothing at the neck, which indicates that the wooden figurine was originally dressed up. Wooden figurines originated in the Spring and Autumn Period, became popular in the early Warring States Period, and entered a heyday from the mid Warring States Period to the Eastern and Western Han dynasties, particularly in Chu. As evidenced by archaeological findings, wooden figurines first attained popularity in Chu. This was closely related to Chu’s unique geographical environment. As recorded in Geography, The History of Han, “In the land of Chu...[people] believe in ghosts and observe heathen sacrificial ceremonies.” Wang Yi, a scholar of the Eastern Han Dynasty, writes in Preface to the Nine Songs (Jiu-ge-zhang-ju-xu), “Previously in the town of Nanying in Chu, situated between the Wan and Xiang rivers, people believe in ghosts and like observing sacrificial ceremonies.”


Fig.1 Wooden Figurine (part)

Fig. 2 Kneeling figurine, unearthed in a Chu tomb in Xinyang