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Lemongrass Goodness with the Spirits

Published Jul 10, 2023
Updated Jul 10, 2023

The Mawangdui Han Tombs in Changsha are arguably one of the best-preserved tombs in the whole of China.

Buried within the same area are three tombs belonging to Marquis Dai (his name is Li Cang, Lady Dai (her name is Xin Zhui) and another tomb believed to be their son, dating to Western Han Dynasty (202 BC - 9 AD).

Amongst which, archaeologists even managed to recover the mummified body of Xin Zhui that is about 2000 years old!

Due to the preservation conditions, many organic remains often lost in archaeological resolution are kept in pristine condition. 

These help us catch a glimpse of life in the Changsha Kingdom during the Western Han Dynasty. 

This bamboo incense cover found in Lady Xin Zhui’s tomb is of particular interest because it exemplifies continuity of ‘Chu traditions’ in Southern regions of China.

During the Spring and Autumn period (770-403 BC), famous Poet Qu Yuan described mountain spirits who accessorised themselves with aromatic grasses and plucked flowers for those whom they adored. 

While it was known that Chu people had habits of incense-burning, this archaeological discovery shows us that this lifestyle preference continued into the Han era despite rather drastic political changes.

Lemongrass and other herbs found here are thought to have both antiseptic and aromatic properties.

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