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Part of a tomb dating to the Jin Dynasty found in Changzhi city, Shanxi Province, China. Source: Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology/ China Daily

Three Jin Dynasty Tombs Discovered in Chinese Village Reveal History

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Three brick-chamber tombs from the Great Jin Dynasty (1115 – 1234 AD) that were uncovered in China have been found to feature beautiful and intricate wall murals. Though subject to looting and damage, the remarkable state of preservation showed these murals depicting human figures and flora, showcase artistic motifs and architectural styles typical of the period.

Admiring Exquisitely Made Tombs

During the Great Jin Dynasty, murals and art played significant roles in reflecting the cultural, social, and religious aspects of the time. Though the Great Jin Dynasty was relatively short-lived, lasting just over a century, its artistic legacy left a lasting impact on subsequent periods of Chinese history. Tombs of the Jin Dynasty elite were adorned with elaborate murals depicting scenes from daily life, mythical narratives, and funerary rituals.

Wall murals on one of the Jin Dynasty tombs. (Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology /China Daily)

Wall murals on one of the Jin Dynasty tombs. (Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology /China Daily)

Located in Qiangcheng village within Changzhi's Lucheng district, of particular interest are Tomb M19 and Tomb M20, both adorned with brick-carved arches, doors, windows, figures, floral patterns, and inscriptions detailing historical events. M19 is, in fact, dedicated to the ancestors of Qiancheng village, with detailed historical and geographical information, while M20 narrates the story of He Jin’s famed filial piety.

Tomb M21 stands out among the trio, boasting chamber walls designed to mimic a wooden structure, showcasing a unique architectural approach within the tomb complex.

The information has been released by the Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, published by China Daily.

Elements of the tomb M21 were made to imitate wooden buildings. (Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology /China Daily)

Elements of the tomb M21 were made to imitate wooden buildings. (Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology /China Daily)

Speaking to China Daily, the archaeology team added:

“The tombs reflect traditional Chinese culture, social ethics, ancient architectural characteristics, tomb architecture and funeral customs, providing new materials and insights for the study of ancient tomb culture and archaeological history.”

Tomb M21. (Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology /China Daily)

Tomb M21. (Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology /China Daily)

Great Jin Dynasty Revealed

The Great Jin Dynasty (1115–1234) was established by the Jurchen tribes of Manchuria after overthrowing the Liao Dynasty with help from the Song Dynasty. Spanning much of Inner Asia and present-day North China, the dynasty maintained a dual-administration system to govern both the Chinese territories and the nomadic tribes.

Although the Jurchen preserved their ethnic identity and customs, they adopted the Chinese name 'Jin' for their dynasty. Their capital moved from Huining to Yanjing (now Beijing), then to Bianjing (Kaifeng). Over time, their warrior culture waned, leading to their demise in 1234 amidst an alliance between the Mongols and the Song Dynasty.

Historically Important Finds

Although these types or murals are found on many tombs throughout the region, their discovery remains important, as they depict both local and regional histories, revealing details of China’s tumultuous past.

Top image: Part of a tomb dating to the Jin Dynasty found in Changzhi city, Shanxi Province, China.  Source: Shanxi Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology/ China Daily

By Sahir Pandey

References

Huiying, Zhou, 2024.  Ancient Jin Dynasty tombs with murals unearthed in Shanxi. Available at: https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202403/13/WS65f1563da31082fc043bc725_1.html

Milligan, M. 2024.  Ornate Jin Dynasty tombs found in Changzhi city. Available at: https://www.heritagedaily.com/2024/03/ornate-jin-dynasty-tombs-found-in-changzhi-city/151057.

Radley, Dario, 2024.  Ancient Jin Dynasty tombs with murals unearthed in China.

Available at: https://archaeologymag.com/2024/03/ancient-jin-dynasty-tombs-with-murals-unearthed-in-china/

https://govt.chinadaily.com.cn/s/202403/15/WS65f3bc31498ed2d7b7ea9c54/ancient-jin-dynasty-tombs-with-murals-unearthed-in-shanxi.html

 
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Sahir

I am a graduate of History from the University of Delhi, and a graduate of Law, from Jindal University, Sonepat. During my study of history, I developed a great interest in post-colonial studies, with a focus on Latin America. I... Read More

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