Monday, 16 December 2013

The origin of the Mongolic people

The staff from the Chen Barag Banner Administration of Cultural Relics discovered a burial site while investigating the northern bank of Hailar River, Hailatu Village. The skeleton is shattered and scattered, and traces of burial goods can be seen on the surface. 
The tomb owner lies on the back with straightened limbs and head pointing towards northwest. There are two clay pots on the left of the skull, one gold artifact decorated with human face and two horses on the chest immediately under the jaw, a gold leaf and two tiny pierced beads on the forehead above brow ridge, a silver earring at the right side of the skull, and a tube-shaped bead at the right of cervical vertebrae; a big pierced bead is found above the left part of the sacrum.

unearthed graving goods
The clay pots are of distinguished Xianbei characteristics. Plain in pattern and gray in color, one of them has wide flared mouth with rounded rim, big belly and flat bottom; traces of soot are also found on the pot. The other is yellowish brown in color, also has rounded rim, flat bottom and big, projecting belly; there are two bowstring-shaped lines below the neck, and three regular grids design in the belly.
The earring is composed of two silver circles intertwined, with 0.8cm and 1.6cm as diameters respectively. Four pierced beads should serve as accessories; the tube-shaped bead is pierced from both ends, and the inner surface is smoothly sounded, a technique that is typical to Han Dynasty.
The gold leaf is slightly bent like an arc, with two round holes on each end. A bead of blue glass is found in each hole, making it a headdress. 
Among all the burial goods, the most precious is the gold accessory decorated with human face and two horses. The accessory is almost rectangular in shape, and is hammered in repousse work but the details are chisel carving. It is 6.0 cm long, 3.0 cm wide; it weighs 4.5 gram and the gold content exceeds 90%. It is decorated with two horse heads, back-to-back; standing ears, behind which two holes have been pierced; the manes are chiseled as short and upstanding. The horses are slightly different in the foreside of the neck: one is straight and flat, while the other a little curved inwardly, to differentiate their genders. Their eyes and mouths are formed by lightly chiseled lines. The forelegs of the horses are held upwards and bent as if to prance. A human face appears at the intersection where the horses are joined, with three strips below to represent arms and body. The face is typically Xianbei-ish, with pointed head, large eyes and wide mouth. Exaggerated yet very lifelike, the style is sharply contrasted by that of the delicately made horses. The back of the accessory is decorated with tiger-head patterns, which may be a legacy from the Huns.
 details of gold accessory decorated with human face and two horses
It is almost certain that this delicate and intact accessory serves as a pendant. Notably, judging from the edges resulted from piercing and cutting, the accessory had never been worn in daily life, indicating its ritual function. 
Having inherited the love of gold and silver from their Hunnish ancestors but also influenced by Central Plains culture, Xianbei people produced many decorative vessels and accessories, but only occasionally table vessels. The patterns are dominated by animal pattern such as horse, stag, camel, boar and mythical animals; the decorating techniques include cutting, casting, hammered in repousse work, chisel carving and bead welding. According to their shapes, techniques and patterns, the burial goods mentioned above are dated to late Eastern Han dynasty. 
In the regions of northeast China and Inner Mongolia, it has been found previously gold pendant plates decorated with human face and two lions, two horses, and three stags, but that with human face and two horses has never been found until now. These antiques found in prairie of Chen Barag Banner are extremely value to the study of the origin of the Mongolic people.    (Translator: Su Minjie)

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