Glass burial suits and glass plaques in Han mortuary rituals

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Current researches on ancient Chinese glass mainly focused on the issues of origin and considered this medium as an evidence of China’s contacts with outside civilisations. This paper, on the contrary, will discuss the objects of glass suits and glass plaques (most of the plaques are considered as parts of a burial suit), which undoubtedly were locally manufactured. To date, a considerable number of glass plaques have been excavated in different Han burials, and it appeared to be used in funerary context over a rather short period of time—from late Western Han through early Eastern Han. Because of the ostensive resemblance, some of the unearthed glass plaques have been confused with ceramic, stone, or even jade. In the meantime, due to the similarity of Chinese glass and jade, scholars generally perceive glass objects as less precious simulations of those of jade. However, by studying recent discoveries, the use of glass during the Han period, particularly in the mortuary context, did not necessarily follow that logic. This paper will explore the possible functions and political significations of adopting glass plaques in Han burial rituals, and also discuss the contemporaneous perceptions of immortality in relation to the materiality of glass. Copyright © 2021 European Association of Archaeologists.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


Lam, E. H.-L. (2021, September ). Glass burial suits and glass plaques in Han mortuary rituals. Paper presented at The 27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA 2021), Kiel, Germany.


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