The Faces of Shang/Yin (China, the II Millenium ВС)

Gorodetskaya О. М.

The famous tomb from the excavations of An'yang, discovered during the recent years of great archaeological finds in China, is the only known intact royal sepulchre of the Shang/Yin period. It was attributed to Fu-hao, the militant spouse of Wu-ding. The type of entombment and the unearthed artefacts partly confirm and partly contradict and augment the data to be found in «The Historical Records» («Shi ji») by Sima Qian (145-? ВС) and in «The Records of Imperial and Royal Genealogy» («Di wang shi ji») by Huangfu Mi (215-282). The article juxtaposes currently available literary and archaeological data of the time of Wu-ding's rule. The article also touches upon the role of anthropomorphic masks in the Shang culture. The most frequent pictorial motif of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic face-masks can be explained by the ancient custom of ritual killing by decapitation for the purposes of co-interring. The connection of these bronze or jade face-masks with funeral rites can be inferred from the presence of identical images on the sacred axes used for ritual decapitation.