Rare treasure found in Yunhe

ezhejiang.gov.cn| Updated : Dec 28, 2021 L M S


Exotic Tang Dynasty tri-colour pottery was recently excavated in Yunhe county, Zhejiang province. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]

Staff of the Yunhe cultural relic protection center in Yunhe county, East China's Zhejiang province, recently excavated six precious cultural relics from a Tang Dynasty (618-907) tomb they accidentally discovered on a hill at the construction site of a local hospital.

One of the six unearthed relics is particularly notable in terms of both aesthetic and archaeological value. It is an exotic Tang Dynasty tri-colour pottery, or tangsancai in Chinese, that resembles an animal-horn-shaped vessel common in contemporary West Asia, reflecting a high cultural tolerance among Tang artisans that was rarely seen in ancient China.

The decorative design of the pottery is associated with a colorful peacock. Hence, this variety of pottery is also called "peacock vessels". They were usually wine-drinking vessels and were often buried in patricians' tombs during the Tang Dynasty.

"This kind of vessel first emerged in West Asia in 500 BC before being gradually introduced to China between the third and sixth century through the ancient Silk Road. The Tang Dynasty vessels of this kind were rarely used in southern China," said Chen Minghui, a senior researcher with the provincial cultural relics and archaeology institute.

Chen added that the appearance of the vessel in Yunhe, a remote southern mountainous locality during the Tang Dynasty, has proved that there was strong international exchange at the time.

"We have referred to relevant archaeological records and found that a vessel of the same style was excavated in Houwangzhuang village, Zhengzhou, Henan province (in northern China), in 1976 and is now preserved in the Henan Museum. The appearance of the vessel in Yunhe shows that the tomb owner has a high social status and values cultural exchange," said Yang Kexin, director of the Yunhe cultural relic protection center.