From mythology to representation: Sheng and its iconography in Han Burial Ritual

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

According to records in pre-Han and Han texts, sheng is rendered as a peculiar headdress of Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West. With the belief in Xiwangmu being closely connected to immortality during Han times, sheng was not only presented as a hair ornament worn by Xiwangmu on mural painting or relief imageries in Han tombs, but it also became an independent motif for different forms and materials of objects found in Han and beyond mortuary contexts, such as jade sheng pendants, gold sheng ornaments, etc. Although sheng was singled out from its original substance, Xiwangmu, the association between these two subjects was strongly maintained. By looking at different representations of sheng in the periods, this paper seeks to investigate the ideology of the form of sheng in relation to the belief of immortality and the role of other iconographies in the burial ritual throughout the Han times.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

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Sheng
Iconography
Mythology
Burial Rituals
Immortality
Ornament
Iconographies
Queen Mother
Relief
Tombs
Motifs
Imagery
Ideology
Headdress
Pendant
Mural Paintings

Citation

Lam, H.-l. E. (2016, June). From mythology to representation: Sheng and its iconography in Han Burial Ritual. Paper presented at The Seventh Worldwide Conference of the Society for East Asian Archaeology (SEAA 7), Harvard University and Boston University, Cambridge and Boston, USA.