Hubei Attractions

Tomb of Marquis Yi and Zeng


Tomb of Marquis Yi and Zeng1.jpgThe Tomb of Marquis Yi and Zeng was excavated by Chinese archeologists in Hubei Province's Suizhou City in 1978. Thus revealing one of the most important discoveries in Chinese archaeology history.

It is the Tomb of Marquis Yi and Zeng in early Warring States Period, who was buried in about 433 B.C. The tomb, built out of red conglomerates, is 16.5 meters long and 21 meters wide. An outer coffin is placed in the tomb, which contains four rooms respectively in the east, the center, the north and the west. 


Lacquer Coffin

The double-layer coffin is placed in the eastern room, with the outer coffin built with a bronze frame, while door, windows and guardian divine animals and warriors were painted on the surface of the inner coffin. The central room accommodates the funerary objects of ritual and musical instruments. Weapons and carriages are found in the northern room, while 13 coffins for human sacrifices are placed in the western room.

Marquis Yi of the Zeng State was buried within a bronze-framed colored Nanmu wood coffin (including inner and outer coffins), the largest lacquer ware in ancient China unearthed so far weighing as much as 7000 kg. The lacquer work is fully decorated with colored paintings featuring mysterious patterns, which are mostly dragon, snake, bird, animals and gods in various forms totaling to over 900 images. The images are arranged in order and presented in glorious and appealing colors.

Lacquer Coffin1.jpgLacquer Coffin2.jpg
Lacquered outer coffin

Length: 3.2m, Width: 2.1m, Height: 2.19cm

Lacquered inner coffin

Length: 2.49m, W: 1.27m, H: 1.32m


The Bronze Wares

Over ten thousand funerary objects are unearthed from the tomb. The bronze wares boast a large volume totaling 6239 pieces, among which there are 117 ritual objects and 17 utensils in altogether 38 varieties. The Bronze Chime-bells of King Yi of the Zeng State embodies 65 pieces of instruments, boasting the largest and best-preserved bronze chime bells discovered so far. A large amount of other bronze musical instruments have also been excavated, including chime stones, drum, Se (the horizontal lute), Sheng (the reed Pipe) and Pai Xiao (the circular bamboo Pipe), which are in orderly sets or suites presumably arranged according to the conviviality held for the host before his death. Inscriptions such as "Zeng hou yi" ("King Yi of the Zeng State") are carved on many of the bronze wares, providing us evidences for judging the host of the grave.

Tomb of Marquis Yi and Zeng2.jpgBrozone Jian.jpg

The Bronze Jian (utensil containing ice) is considered the earliest and most primitive green "refrigerator" ever found in the world by far. It is unearthed in 1977 from Zeng Hou Yi tomb in Sui County, Hubei province. It is a representative of the bronze vessels in the tomb as it gives a full expression of the novel, unique and delicate features of the bronze vessels in the tomb.

The four feet of the Bronze Jian are four dynamic and sturdy monsters with dragon head and beast body. The dragon heads thrust outwards while the beast bodies are in a position of crawling. It seems like the monsters are trying hard to support the whole weight of the Bronze Jian. The body of the Bronze Jian is square. There are altogether eight dragon ears in a hogged shape on four sides and at four corners. Each dragon tail is wounded by a small dragon and decorated with two five-petal flowers.

The Bronze Jian is an ingeniously-conceived vessel which shows a high degree of integration of practicability and artistry. It has a two-layer structure, and contains a jar inside. The combination of jian and jar is set to serve a special purpose. In summer, ice blocks between the jian and the jar can cool the wine in the jar; in winter, hot water in the belly of the jian can warm the wine in the jar quickly.

Gold calices, gold cups, gold belt hooks, and a 16-segment jade pendant of dragon-phoenix design as long as 48 cm are also found in the tomb, vividly presenting the details of the luxurious life of King Yi.


The excavation of King Yi’s tomb has provided precious updated data for archeology of the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods of China, which is especially significant for studying the ancient musical instrument history and technical manufacturing history in China.


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