Cliff Tomb Burial and Decorated Stone Sarcophagi from Sichuan from the Eastern Han Dynasty

  • Hajni Pejsue Elias University of Cambridge
Keywords: Eastern Han, cliff tombs, stone sarcophagi, tomb decoration, southwest China

Abstract

Cliff tombs and decorated stone sarcophagi from the Eastern Han period have been found in especially large numbers in Sichuan. The sudden rise of cliff tomb burial in the southwest and its decline by the 3rd century CE suggests that it was a trend that answered a particular call in a specific period. Their geographical concentration and use in a period of general social and political stability and economic prosperity in the region point to a distinctive new development in burial custom. Cliff tomb burial represented a fundamental shift in artistic and communicative objectives and a modification in cemetery layout. After examining cliff tombs found in Hejiang county, Sichuan, and especially the iconography and meaning of images carved on stone sarcophagi found therein, the paper suggests a number of possible reasons for the rise of cliff tomb burial, including a wish to eschew the ostentation associated with funereal practice at the time.

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Published
2019-06-28
How to Cite
Elias, H. P. (2019). Cliff Tomb Burial and Decorated Stone Sarcophagi from Sichuan from the Eastern Han Dynasty. Asian Studies, 7(2), 175-201. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2019.7.2.175-201
Section
Tomb Iconography in the Territory between Southwestern and Northern Frontiers