2000 years old portrait of Confucius found in tomb in China

He was venerated as a great sage in ancient China, but despised as a regressive pedant during the decade-long Cultural Revolution (1966—1976).

Chinese archaeologists on Saturday claimed to have unearthed a portrait of ancient philosopher Confucius from a tomb that is at least 2,000 years old.

After they pieced together a broken lacquer screen found in the main chamber of the tomb, the archaeologists said they restored two portraits, one of which is believed to be of Confucius.

“The Chinese characters on the screen include the names of Confucius, his father Shu Lianghe, and one of his favourite disciples Yan Hui,” said Zhang Zhongli, deputy chief of the excavation team in east China’s Jiangxi Province.

“These names are evidence that at least one of the two men painted on the screen is Confucius himself.”

He said the text on the screen was probably a brief biography of Confucius, but further evidence is needed to support the hypothesis.

Screens were typical furniture in ancient Chinese homes to block wind and evil spirits and protect privacy and were often painted with landscapes, plants or calligraphy, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The restored screen is 50 to 60 centimetres wide and 70 to 80 centimetres tall.

“We assume the tomb owner respected Confucius and had a Confucius portrait painted on the screen,” said Mr. Zhang.

“After he died, his family buried his favourite screen with him, even though such screens were not conventional burial items in Chinese funerary customs.”

For thousands of years, Confucius has been regarded as a symbol of China’s traditional culture by the country’s intellectuals.

He was venerated as a great sage in ancient China, but despised as a regressive pedant during the decade-long Cultural Revolution (1966—1976), headed by Mao Zedong the founder of the ruling Communist Party of China, (CPC).

The Party is now resurrecting Confucius in a big way as part of restoration of Chinese culture.

The tomb owner is believed to be Liu He, grandson of Emperor Wu, whose reign ushered in one of the most prosperous periods in China’s history.

Liu was emperor for only 27 days before he was dethroned by the royal clan for his lack of talent and morals.

After he was deposed, Liu was given the title ‘Marquis of Haihun’

The finding of the Confucius portrait in the Marquis’s tomb indicates Confucius’s teachings were prevalent among the ruling class in the Western Han Dynasty, said Mr. Zhang.

Confucius is respected as “the teacher of all teachers,” and children learn to recite his quotes at a very young age.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 10:38:53 PM |

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