Tomb guardian from a Wu (222–280) tomb in Hubei province. Ezhou Museum.

Project (2021)

Transience in Death and Burial of Six Dynasties China

Creating, adorning, and furnishing tombs was never only used as a means of expressing filial piety and handling grief, but also as a way of coping with the inevitable transience of life. Especially during the Six Dynasties in Southern China (220–589)—a period of social disturbances, extended warfare, and forced migration—concepts of death and burial had to be frequently readapted to fast-changing circumstances. A huge body of tombs has been excavated from this period, centering around the former capital of the Six Dynasties of the South, Jiankang (modern Nanjing), as well as the secondary centers located along the Yangzi river and its tributaries. This project will focus on several case studies from different parts of Southern China to illustrate the manifold burial patterns evident in the south. The analysis aims to pave the way for a deeper comprehension of the different concepts concerning death, transience, and eternity. It will also contribute to our understanding of southern Chinese society in a period of unrest and migration during early medieval China.