At Home in Her Tomb by Christine Liu-Perkins,Sarah S. Brannen

By Christine Liu-Perkins,Sarah S. Brannen

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The silks and strips were covered with writing. These were books and documents—including the oldest and largest cache of silk books discovered in China. In that single box were fifty manuscripts consisting of over one hundred thousand characters (words). Many contained content that no one had read for one to two thousand years. Scholars around the world were excited, as they had long assumed the material was lost—destroyed in fires or wars, or through decay. Words on Bamboo and Silk The first books in China were written on narrow strips of bamboo and wood.

The paintings on the coffins portrayed the paradise of the immortals. A painting on silk depicted the cosmos, including heaven. The son’s tomb also supplied a document for the underworld bureaucracy—a wooden letter intended for the Lord of the Dead. 28 • At Home in Her Tomb What happens to us after we die? Does a part of us continue living? Is there an afterlife? Throughout history people all over the globe have come up with different answers to these questions. Other questions involve the relationship between the living and the dead.

Tianwen qixiang zazhan (Miscellaneous Divination by Astrology or Meteorology) displays twenty-nine drawings of comets, showing various tail shapes. Other texts instruct the reader in interpreting cloud shapes, wind 56 • At Home in Her Tomb These drawings of comets with tails of various shapes come from the book Miscellaneous Divination by Astrology and Meteorology. HUNAN PROVINCIAL MUSEUM patterns, mirages, mists, and rainbows. People used these and other forms of divination to answer questions about the future: Will an action succeed?

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