The archaeology of the cemetery of Liu he, the marquis of Haihun: some thoughts on mortuary institutions
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This paper discusses the mortuary institutions of Liu He, the Marquis of Haihun, as reflected in his burial and focuses on the institutions of the tomb, the associated tombs, the tomb chamber and coffins, and the shroud. Textual evidence to consider in interpreting the tomb of Liu He can be found in the “Statutes on Burial” excavated from Shuihudi Tomb M77: this paper thus tries to recover the mortuary institutions of the Marquis in the Han Dynasty by collating the archaeological and textual data. The first section deals with the institution of the tomb and concerns all of the constructions associated with it. The second section discusses the associated tombs in the cemetery of Liu He and compares them with those in other marquises’ cemeteries. The third and fourth sections examine the rich archaeological materials from Liu He’s tomb to discuss the institutions of the tomb chamber, coffins, and burial goods. This paper also discusses some intriguing questions such as the incomplete “Statutes on Burial” and the violations of the statutes seen in the cemetery of Liu He.
KeywordsLiu he Mortuary institutions Statutes on burial Violation
As the onsite archeological work of the tomb of Liu He 劉賀, the Marquis of Haihun 海昏, has been mostly finished, with work shifting to indoor preservation and organization, we now have a clearer picture of the discovery. Several hundreds of artifacts went on exhibition in the Jiangxi Provincial Museum and the Capital Museum in Beijing. Moreover, the discovery of the tomb drew unprecedented attentionfrom the media, whichnot only manifests the power of the mass media, but also tellingly indicates the importance of the tomb of Liu He in the eyes of the masses.
The discovery of the tomb of Liu He also gave rise toheated discussions in academia. As early as late 2015, the Qin and Han Committee of the Chinese Archaeological Association and the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Jiangxi Province had already organized a conference on the archaeological workatthe tomb. In April 2016, the Society of Qin and Han History of China, the Institute of Historical Research, and the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Jiangxi Province organized aninternational conference on the discovery of the tomb of Liu He at Jiangxi Normal University. The papers presented at the conferences were published in Nan fang wen wu 南方文物 or in conference anthologies immediately afterwards (Xu and Cao 2017).
The reason that the discoverygave rise such great interest in academia lies in the special identity of the tomb occupant, Liu He, whose life was exceptionally dramatic. He was the grandson of the famous Emperor Wu 武帝 of Han, Liu Che 劉徹, and succeeded the King of Changyi 昌邑at the age of 5 (87 BCE). At the age of 18 (74 BCE),he succeeded his uncle, Emperor Zhao 昭帝, to be the ninth emperor of the Western Han Dynasty. However, after only being emperor for 27 days, he was immediately dethroned by the Commander-in-Chief 大司馬 and the General-in-Chief 大將軍 HuoGuang 霍光, who originally had established him on the throne. With the permission of the empress dowager, Liu He was granted a fief in his previous kingdom, Changyi, where he lived for 11 years. In the third year of Emperor Xuan 宣帝 (63 BCE), Liu He was enfeoffedas the Marquis of Haihun and relocated to Poyang Lake 鄱陽湖. A few years later he was penalized, and 3000 householdswere deducted from his fief, thus making himan insignificant Marquiswith1,000 households. He died soon after this penalty was imposed and was buried in his fief. Although Liu He only shined in a brief flash in history as the emperor, with the discovery of his tomb, his story will be remembered forever and the discoveries of his kingdom will be treasured for generations.
Because of the special life of Liu He, the excavation of his tombleaves us a rich legacy that not only sheds new light on historical studies but also providesnew references for archeological research. Moreover, the great amount of burial goods clearly manifests the prosperity of the early Western Han period, and the 5000 pieces of bamboo strips and other written materials are invaluable treasures. This paper focuses onthe mortuary institutions reflected in the tomb of Liu He.
We should also mention the “Statutes on Burial”葬律 excavated from Shuihudi 睡虎地 Tomb M77, Yunmeng 雲夢County, Hubei 湖北 Province in 2006 (Hubei and Yunmeng 2009). These statutes are written on five stripsandconcern the mortuary institutions for a marquis. ShuihudiM77 has been dated by the excavators to the time of Emperor Wen 文帝 and Emperor Jing 景帝, so the statutes should date from the early Western Han time period. Scholars also tend tobelieve that the statutes had never been revised, due to the lack of any evidence of revision. In this sense, these statutes are invaluable since they are the only extant statutesconcerning the burial of a Han marquis. The statutes read:
Statutes on Burial: The shroud for a chehou (徹侯, Marquis) should not exceed the inner coffin and the shroud should be tied up. The material of the coffin cover should be inferior (than that of the shroud). Regarding killing (sacrificial animals), (in the ceremony of) dressing the body of the dead, use a bull; placing the body into the coffin and notifying the guests, both one dalao; the arriving of the coffin at the ancestral temple, a bull; making sacrifice on the road, one dalao. The width of the inner coffin should not exceed three chi and two cun, depth three chi and one cun, length one zhang and one chi, thickness seven cun. There should be two chambers. One is one chi and eighteen cun thick, and the other one is a storage chamber of five cun thick, which could use charcoal (to protect it). The bottom of the pit, the bottom of the tomb chamber and the path should be six zhang deep below the ground. The mound should be square in shape thirteen zhang long on each side and three zhang high. The cemetery measures forty-five zhang long from west to east and forty-two zhang long from north to south. The cemetery should have two courtyards which are separated by walls of one zhang high. The roof of the ancestral hall should be square shaped six zhang long on each side. There should be a gate in the outside walls, outside which are the gate pillars, and the wall decorations should be at the four corners of the walls.
葬律:彻侯衣衾毋过盈棺, 衣衾敛束。荒所用次也。其杀:小敛用一特牛, 棺、开各一大牢, 祖一特牛, 遣一大牢。棺中之广毋过三尺二寸, 深三尺一寸, 袤丈一尺, 厚七寸。椁二, 其一厚尺一八寸; 藏椁一, 厚五寸, 得用炭。壑、斗、羡深渊上六丈, 坟大方十三丈, 高三丈。茔东西四十五丈, 北南四十二丈, 重园垣之, 高丈。祠舍盖, 盖地方六丈。中垣为门, 外为阙, 垣四陬为罘罳。(Peng 2009).
More importantly, although the “Statutes on Burial” from Shuihudi M77 undoubtedly shed new light on the burial of a marquis, none of the more than 800 known Han marquis burials so far found provide comparable archaeological information (Wang 2011). The cemetery of Liu He is the first one that provides material support for the statutes, while the “Statutes on Burial” are also the only extant written reference for our understanding of the cemetery of Liu He. The two types of archaeological evidence perfectly complement each other, for which reason they will be discussed side by side in the following discussion.
2 The tomb institution
In Western Han times, the tombs of regional kings and marquiseswere the highest aristocratic burials below the emperors’ mausoleums. Although we have greatly expanded our knowledge about the mortuary institutions of the regional kings, we still know very little about those of the marquises due to the lack of archaeological evidence. The discovery of the tomb of Liu He fills in this gap by providing comprehensive archaeological materials, which in turn allow us to think about the mortuary institutions of the Marquis.
The tomb of Liu He is located on the hilltop of Guodunshan 槨墩山, which was a high and open space about 400 m to the west of what today is called the “Forbidden City” (Zijincheng 紫禁城), the capital city of the kingdom of Haihun. Although the “Statutes on Burial” do not stipulate the location of a cemetery, almost all funerary parks and tombs were placed in high and open places since only a high place meets the two key factors ensuring the safety of the tomb: burying deeply and not reaching the groundwater. Since these two factors were common knowledge at the time and the choice of location was also restricted by the landscape in practice, the “Statutes on Burial” do not provide specific instructions, though the stipulation of the location of a cemetery could be mentioned in other statutes.
That being said, the size of the funerary park of Liu He, 4.6 ha, greatly exceeds the regulation of the “Statutes on Burial,” which stipulate that the cemetery of a marquis should be “forty-five zhang from west to east and forty-two zhang from north to south,” or only 1.085 ha. In fact, it seems that the figure in the “Statutes on Burial” is closer to the reality as suggested by the received texts. According to the Hanshu 漢書, in 118 BCE the Chief Minister, the Marquis of Le An 樂安, Li Cai 李蔡, “because of illegally taking three qing of land in addition to the twenty mu he was granted as his funerary park in Yang Mausoleum 陽陵 and selling the land for more than four hundred thousands of cash, as well as illegally taking one mu outside the Spiritual Passage for the burial, was sentenced to be put into jail, and he committed suicide.” The “twenty mu” refers to the size that the Marquis of Le An should take according to the law, which is slightly more than 1 ha, and he incurred death by taking more than what he should have. However, the fact that the funerary park of Liu He greatly exceeds the statutes seems to have a more complicated reason than simply the change of mortuary institutions, which is an important question that arosefrom its excavation.
The funerary park of Liu He also has many associated constructions that are not mentioned in the “Statutes on Burial.” In order to understand these, we should first take a closer look at its layout.
Based on the above discussion, we can see that as an important ceremonial construction, the funerary park was carefully arranged to fulfill its ceremonial functions, and the resting hall and ancestral hall were especially significant. The ancestral hall is mentioned in the “Statutes on Burial,” where it says that “the roof of the ancestral hall should be square in shape, six zhang long on each side,” which means that the ancestral hall should be no more than 192 m2. The foundation of the ancestral hall (including the wall foundation) in the funerary park of Liu He measures approximately 140 m2. However, according to the “Statutes on Burial,” the ancestral hall should have a roof with eaves and be surrounded by a winding corridor. Therefore, the total area of the ancestral hall is larger than that of the foundation. If the eaves protrude two chifrom each side, the ancestral hall would cover a total area of more than 200 m2, which exceeds “six zhang long on each side.” Still, thisonly minor difference implies that the construction of the ancestral hall for Liu He took the statues into consideration, with the minor difference also being acceptable.
The resting hall of Liu He is not seen in the “Statutes on Burial” nor any other text. The discovery of the resting hall points to a new and even “super-ceremonial” mortuary institution. The construction of aresting hall in funerary parks began from the First Emperor of Qin, as the “Ming Di ji 明帝纪” and “Ji sixia 祭祀下” chapters of the Eastern Han Hou Han shu后汉书 and its commentaries note, including thatby Li Xian 李贤 who said, “The resting hall comes into existence in the Qin Dynasty. It is built next to the tomb and the Han Dynasty followed this practice without any change” (Hou Han shu 2014–16). The excavation of the mausoleum of the First Emperor of Qin confirms his account, and the great size and lavish decoration of the resting hall of the First Emperor of Qin are stunning (Zhang and Sun 2011). The mausoleums of the Han emperors, such as seen with the excavations ofthe Duling 杜陵 Mausoleum, and the coring of the Yangling 阳陵 Mausoleum, and Maoling 茂陵 Mausoleum (CASS 1993 and Jiao 2013), continued to include the construction ofresting halls and ancestral halls but in much reduced sizes than that of the First Emperor of Qin, and some cemeteries of the regional kings also had them. However, the existence of the resting hall and ancestral hall in the funerary park of Liu He, who was only a marquis, is unimaginable. As the only case of a resting hall and ancestral hall existing in a marquis’funerary park, the burial complex of Liu He deserves further research. At the same time, it indicates the far-reaching influence of the invention of the resting hall by Qin on the mortuary institutions of the Han Dynasty.
3 The institution of associated tombs
The associated tombs in the funerary park of Liu He are important discoveries that are not mentioned in the “Statutes on Burial” and will be discussed in this section.
The associated tombs best indicate how the patriarchal clan system applied in mortuary practices and are key to understanding the burial practicesof the Han Dynasty. Limited by the scant literary sources, we do not know much about the associated tombs, especially the system of associated burials used in the cemeteries of the marquises. The associated tombs in the funerary park of Liu He thus provide important information regarding this issue.
There are three tombs in an area of associated tombs in the eastern side of the funerary park. M7 is located toward the south and its ramp faces west. M8 and M9 are located slightly to the north and their ramps face south. These three tombs are all single tombs facing toward the tomb of Liu He, so they are more likely the tombs of Liu He’s concubines. The different locations and directions of the three tombs may be related to the closeness of the tomb owners to Liu He, although this requires more archaeological evidence to confirm.
According to the Hanshu, Liu He died at the age of 33 and had 16 consorts and 22 children. The ritual ordering for how burials should be arrange in afunerary park let us see that, with the wife playing the most important role, her tombis placed next to that of Liu He, the main occupant. The sons who followed the father in death as accompanying burials in the funerary park under usual conditions would not be those who succeeded to the rank of marquis, since according to the Han succession law, those who succeeded to the rank of their fathers would have had their own fief and funerary park. Still, it does not mean that all the sons who did not succeed were buried in their father’s funerary park. Liu He had 11 sons, but many of them were not buried in the funerary park, and the reason for this may be more complicated than the restrictions of the mortuary institutions. The two largest tombs, M5 and M6, probably belong to the eldest son by the wife of Liu He, Liu Chongguo, and the second son, Liu Fengxian, who, although he could have succeeded his father, died before the arrival of the official enfeoffment. The third son of Liu He, Liu Daizong 劉代宗, succeeded to the rank of marquis in the third year of Emperor Yuan 元帝 (46 BCE), so he should be buried separately, probably in one of the four cemeteries of the Marquises of Haihunthat we have excavated. In this way, M4 and M3 may belong to the fourth and fifth sons of Liu He, or the next two sons, but we must await new evidence to properly identify them.
Zhang Anshi died three years earlier than Liu He, and his funerary park was also discovered three years earlier. The layout of his funerary park is similar to but also quite different from that of Liu He, and the major difference lies in the arrangement of the tombs of his family members. The center of the funerary park of Zhang Anshifeatures the tomb of Zhang Anshi. His wife’s tomb is located behind him, to the east. A large terracotta horse and human figurine pit is located to the west of the tomb of Zhang Anshi, and the ancestral hall to the northeast. A ditch with boundary markers clearly separates the central area, including the tombs of Zhang Anshi and his wife, the terracotta figurine pit, and the ancestral hall, from the outer area with associated tombs. All the associated tombs, except for M2, have been excavated; there isone tomb in the west of the cemetery, nine in the east, and two in the north. We did not excavate the south side due to the presence of modern buildings. We found that all of the ramps of these associated tombs face the main tomb, belonging to Zhang Anshi, and the tombs were placed neatly and in a proper order. Although the funerary park of Zhang Anshi does not have walls, the central area was clearly demarcated and separated from the outer area of associated tombs (Shaanxi 2009). This arrangement indicates that the design of the funerary park highlighted the high status of a marquis. Similarly, the cemeteries of regional kings and emperors also singled out their distinguished statuses. Similarly, the statute concerning two courtyards found in the “Statutes on Burial” from Shuihudi M77 may aim to clearly separate the central area from the outer area using walls, thus realizing the proper hierarchical sequence. Still, archaeological evidence indicates varying arrangements for the funerary parks of the marquises. For example, in the funerary park for the Marquis of Tai 軚, Li Cang 利倉, at Mawangdui 馬王堆, Changsha 長沙, Hunan, the tombs of the parents are only several meters away from that of their son: this arrangement is different from those of both Liu He and Zhang Anshi. The associated tombs were buried directly to the north of the tombs of the parents in the funerary park of Liu He, while the associated tombs were clearly separated from the central area in the funerary park of Zhang Anshi. These different arrangements allude to different considerations and lead to different explanations, which then point to the fact that the institution of associated tombs was still loose or quite flexible in practice, which is also a key characteristic of the political strategies of the Han government.
4 The institutions of tomb and coffins
The pit of the tomb of Liu He is 8 m deep, which is relatively shallow compared to other marquises’ tombs and much shallower than “six zhang deep below the ground”as in the “Statutes on Burial.” Deep burial is preferable only if the tomb does not reach the groundwater. Although the tomb of Liu He is located on a hilltop, the ground water level was quite shallow because of being close to Poyang 鄱阳湖 Lake, so the tomb of Liu He had to be dug shallower. Of course, we cannot exclude other reasons, since the designers of the Mawangdui Han tombs faced the same problem when constructing M1, M2, and M3, and they piled up earth to raise the bases of the tombs, thus reaching a burial depth of 16 m. In this regard, the shallow tomb of Liu He may also have resulted from a pressing deadline, perhaps having something to do with his sudden death.
Moreover, the storage chambers surrounding the main chamber clearly exceed the “two chambers” as stipulated in the “Statutes on Burial.” In this sense, the statute of “two chambers” does not apply to the tomb of Liu He. However, these storage chambers may be related to the statute of “one is a storage chamber,” which developed and expanded to be quite different from its original form. These storage chambers became more and more complex and came to represent the rooms in a house and serve different purposes; they were called secondary storage chambers to be differentiated from the primary storage chamber—the main chamber—and the interior storage chambers were differentiated from the exterior storage chambers outside of the tomb. The exterior storage chambers are mentioned in the “Biography of HuoGuang” in the Hanshu. Interestingly, exterior storage chambers were discovered outside the tomb of HuoGuang in the Maoling Mausoleum of Emperor Wu that correspond exactly with the “fifteen fir wood exterior storage chambers” described in the Hanshu (Shaanxi, Xianyang, and Maoling 2011). If the storage chambers outside of the tomb are called exterior storage chambers, should not those inside be called interior storage chambers? Although interior storage chambers are not mentioned in the received texts, they are clearly different from the main chamber. In this sense, the storage chambers for coins, grain, ceremonial objects, drinking vessels, clothing, weapons, documents, chariots and horses, kitchen utensils, and so on, inside the tomb of Liu He should all be considered interior storage chambers. In any case, the tomb of Liu He has a large number of storage chambers, which is not only extraordinary for a marquis’ tomb but also is comparable to tombs of the regional kings, such as the tomb of Liu Zhu 劉著, the King of Changsha.
In short, the tomb chamber of Liu He, in terms of its scale, construction, and the number of storage chambers, holds the highest rank of any marquis’ tomb we have so far seen, and goes far beyond the “Statutes on Burial.”
The arrangement of the main chamber and the position of the coffin also show some unique features. Similar to other elite tombs, the coffin of Liu He was placed in the main chamber. We know that the coffin room is usually in the center or the back of the main chamber in this type of square-shaped wooden tomb chamber, which not only emphasizes the central position of the tomb owner but also leaves enough space for the sacrificial table to be put in front of the coffin. Differently, the coffin of Liu He was placed in the northeastern corner of the main chamber, which is a brand new arrangement of the main chamber. This new arrangement divides the main chamber into west and east rooms, which were separated by a wooden wall but connected by a door. The east room is the coffin room, inside of which the double coffinwasplaced in the northeastern corner. The west room is slightly smaller than the east room, and may be the reception room. In the north of the west room was a large bed, and to its right was a dressing mirror with inscriptions and drawings of Confucius and his disciples. There were three boxes of disk-shaped ingots next to the mirror. Although the placement of the coffin in the corner is also seen in early Chu 楚 tombs, the fact that it was used in a square-shaped wooden chamber tomb of such scale is new.
The outer coffin of Liu He measures 3.7 m long and 1.4 m wide; the inner coffin 2.7 m long and 0.8 m wide. According to the “Statutes on Burial,” “the width of the inner coffin should not exceed three chi and two cun, depth three chi and one cun, length one zhang and one chi, thickness seven cun.” The detailed instructions in the statutes indicate the importance of the proper size of the coffin. The width, depth, length, and thickness in the statutes are equal to 0.74, 0.72, 2.54, and 0.162 m respectively, and the length of the outer coffin, 0.324 m, should include the thickness of the two side panels, so the width of the outer coffin is thus 0.74 plus 0.324, or 1.064 m, and the length should be 2.87 m. The actual size of the outer coffin of Liu He exceeds this stipulation in the “Statutes on Burial.” In fact, since the statutes only mention “two chambers,” the double coffins in the tomb of Liu He also violate the mortuary institutions.
In fact, the so-called “coffin wheels” excavated from the tombs of the regional kings in the Han Dynasty should also be parts of dun. Liu Zunzhi (2012) has carried out an excellent study on the coffin wheels and analyzed those excavated from the Han tombs. Liu regards the coffin wheels as parts of the coffin, but it seems to me that they are the independent device of dun. Dun is mostly found in the tombs of the regional kings, so its discovery in the tomb of Liu He reflects the level of prestige for the tomb of Liu He that was pursued. In short, the discovery of dun in the tomb of Liu He not only enriches our knowledge about mortuary rituals but is also crucial to understanding the development of transportation devices and chariots in ancient China.
5 The institution of burial shrouds
The double coffins also indicate some new features. Both the inner and outer coffins have a head box, inside of which are rich amounts of objects including delicate silver-plated treasure boxes with golden knobs, a stunning amount of horse hoof-shaped ingots, qi lin麒麟 hoof-shaped ingots and disk-shape ingots, gold plaques, and special jade sword ornaments. These objects must have violated the statutes, although the “Statutes on Burial” say nothing about them. The reason is probably that this kind of violation was strictly prohibited and thus rarely happened in early Han times. However, the same as many other social problems, the strict prohibition gradually loosened and burial practices developed into the custom of elaborated burial and lengthy mourning of the Han Dynasty.
6 Some further thoughts
Based on the above analysis, the funerary park of Liu He has all the elements while violates the institutions of a funerary park of Marquis in the Western Han time. Its discovery provides us with rich and fresh information, and raises many questions. In the following I will elaborate on some points discussed in the above.
First, the mortuary institutions concern largely two aspects: the funerary park and the tombs. Generally speaking, the funerary park involves the graveyard, walls, gates, gate pillars, watchtowers, resting hall, ancestral hall, altar, ground, temple, residential houses, kitchen, and so on. The tombs, here the tomb of Liu He and other associated tombs, concern the mound, pit, tomb chamber, coffins, storage chambers, and burial goods which directly reflect the institutions of tomb chamber, coffins, chariots, musical instruments, bronze vessels, jade pendants, body preparation, and so on. These mortuary institutions, especially those mentioned in the “Statutes on Burial,” were maintained throughout the Western Han time except that the burial of chariots and horses was banned in Emperor Cheng’s 成帝 time. Some practices not mentioned in the “Statutes on Burial,” such as the burials of bronze vessels and musical instruments, are old customs that gradually lost favor in the Han dynasty, though their scales are still quite magnificent in the tomb of Liu He. Some practices, such as the burial of chariots and horses, rose and fell. Still some others gained new forms, such as the associated tombs.
Proper ceremonies are key to maintaining the hierarchical social order. As we can see from the mortuary institutions of the Marquis in Western Han, although the burial customs kept changing, the maintenance of a proper ceremonial system was still important and evident. The funerary park of Liu He clearly manifests that its arrangement accords with the ceremonial system and conforms to the “Statutes on Burial.” Its general design considered the ceremonial system so it elaborated in certain aspects while kept modest in others. Interestingly, the more visible is an aspect in the funerary park, the fewer discrepancies it has with the “Statutes on Burial,” such as the mound, the layout of the funerary park, the ancestral hall, the walls, gates, gate pillars, watchtowers, and so on. They all accord with the statutes or only slightly exceed. It is the size of the funerary park that greatly violates the statutes, which is though understandable considering that the funerary park locates on the hilltop far away from the farmland. In any case, the funerary park of Liu He provides invaluable information that deepens our understandings of the mortuary institutions of the Marquis in the Han dynasty.
However, the tomb chamber, coffins and burial objects inside the tomb of Liu He did greatly violate the statutes and made many changes. In short, the rich archaeological materials, together with the “Statutes on Burial,” shed light on the mortuary institutions and their development in the Han dynasty.
Second, many aspects in the funerary park of Liu He, such as the layout of the funerary park, the associated tombs, resting hall, ancestral hall, tomb chamber, coffins, body preparation, chariot-and-horse storage chambers, and many burial objects, are not seen in other burials. The new discovery of the funerary park of Liu He not only provides new information about the Marquis cemeteries but also allows us to reconsider the importance of the “Statutes on Burial” from Shuihudi M77. Although these statutes are invaluable for a better understanding of the Marquis cemeteries, they mention nothing about certain aspects, such as the associated tombs, chariot-and-horse storage chamber, tomb chamber, and body preparation, in the funerary park of Liu He.
For example, the chariot-and-horse burial was one of the most important ceremonial practices commonly seen in many cemeteries, which is confirmed by both excavated and textual evidence. There are both exterior and interior chariot-and-horse storage chambers in the funerary park of Liu He, whereas the “Statutes on Burial” mention nothing regarding this significant practice.
The scale of a tombis always one of the key indicators of the mortuary institutions. However, the “Statutes on Burial” only mention the size of the mound but say nothing about the tomb chamber. The reason for this is probably that the “Statutes on Burial” were modeled largely on Qin law and were referring to burials in the loess plateau of present-day Shaanxi 陝西 province. Because of the nature of loess, tomb chambers in this region used sloping walls, which ensured the walls did not collapse. In this way, a large mound must have a large tomb chamber and small mound a small tomb chamber, so that the size of the mound to that of the tomb chamber is a fixed ratio. Therefore, “the mound is square shaped thirteen zhang long on each side” is enough to indicate the sizes of both the mound and the tomb chamber. However, the statutes sometimes did not fit burials in the different environmental conditionsof the south. The tomb chamber of Liu He has vertical walls so the area inside the tomb chamber is several times larger than those in Shaanxi.
The associated tombs in the funerary park of Liu He are especially significant. These associated tombs, together with those in the cemeteries of Zhang Anshi and Li Cang, confirm the existence of associated tombs in the cemeteries of a marquis and shed new light on the associated burials and the family burials of the Han Dynasty. Still, the fact that the associated tombs are neither mentioned in the “Statutes on Burial” nor seen in the marquises’ cemeteries of the early Han suggests that this practice was not common in the early Han and it had not become a fixed norm.
The information missing from the “Statutes on Burial” reflects the problems of the ritual system in the Western Han Dynasty. Modern scholars point out that the ritual system in the Western Han Dynasty was revised several times by Confucian scholars, such as by Shusun Tong 叔孫通, Jia Yi 賈誼, Dong Zhongshu 董仲舒, Wang Ji 王吉, and Liu Xiang 劉向, but never reached an acceptable form. These Confucian scholars, especially the latter four, spent great efforts on reforming the ritual system but achieved very little due to the fact that “his highness does not take his words” or “the emperor died so the plan was cancelled.” Therefore, the Qing Confucian scholar Wang Mingsheng 王鳴盛 (1722–1798) even said that the Western Han “had no rituals (Wang Mingsheng 2005).” The discovery of the funerary park of Liu He is thus important in the sense that it provides archaeological evidence for the argument of Wang Mingsheng and a starting point to think about the underlying reason for the unsatisfied ritual system. As the excavators of the “Statutes on Burial” say, these statutes were made in early Han times when the ritual system “largely continued the previous Qin one” (WangMingsheng 2005). Moreover, as the “Treatise on Rites and Music” 禮樂志 in the Hanshu indicates, the “Statutes on Burial” was never updated after the time of Shusun Tong. In other words, the unmentioned new aspects in the funerary park of Liu He duly reflect the outdated and incomplete ritual system of the Western Han period, and to some extent substantiate the argument of Wang Mingsheng.
Although many aspects in the funerary park of Liu He violated the statutes, the violation itself became less a problem in the larger context of the mortuary institutions of high-ranking burials’close relationshipwith the politics of the Han Dynasty. I have pointed out that the violation in the funerary park of Liu He was the result of the political strategy of Emperor Xuan (Zhang and Liu 2016). Furthermore, the core of the so-called “Han system” is “a mixture of hegemonic and benevolent governance” in the Han Dynasty, and hegemonic governance was always more important than the benevolent rule in the hearts of the Han emperors, andnot vice versa. It is this political system that leads to the result that “Han had no rituals,” and this is also directly reflected in Western Han burials, and the tomb of Liu He is a classic example.
Third, a considerable amount of objects in the tomb belong to the period when Liu He was the king of Changyi, such as the chariots and horses in the exterior storage chamber, the ceremonial musical instruments in the storage chamber, the jade sword in the main chamber, and other vessels bearing the dates of Changyi. These objects are crucial for the study of not only the life of Liu He but also the tombs of marquises’ and regional kings. There are also many objects belonging to his father, Liu Bo 劉髆, the previous king of Changyi. We know that Liu He was supposed to be exiled to Fangxian 房縣 County in Hanzhong 漢中 Commandery after being abolished, and only by the favor of the empress dowager could he go back to Changyi and have a fief of 2000 households. He also reclaimed all the wealth belonging to his father after coming back to Changyi. The great amount of objects in the tomb of Liu He, which are related to those in the Hongtushan 红土山 tomb in Shandong Province, points to the possibility that this tomb belongs to the father, Liu Bo (Zhang 2017). It is for sure that the funerary park of Liu He will continue to generate new understandings about the mortuary institutions of the regional kings and marquisesof the Western Han period.
In the end I want to discuss more about the violation of the “Statutes on Burial” in the funerary park of Liu He. Although the funerary park of Liu He greatly violates the statutes, ironically, it is these violations themselves that allows us to see such a magnificent funerary park. The funerary park of Liu He not just violates the “Statutes on Burial,” but the violation is so extravagant that the funerary park is comparable to those of the regional kings, such as that of the King of Changsha. The sentiment of having once been emperor was permanent for Liu He and was expressed implicitly in his funerary park. However, it should be emphasized that it was almost impossible for the elites to violate the law in the Han Dynasty and Liu He surely would not dare to do so considering his special identity. Therefore, the violations in his funerary parkmust have in fact been by special decree from Emperor Xuan: in other words, the violation actually did occur, but it was allowed and done without guilt. The fact that Emperor Xuan claimed that “the blood kin should be differentiated but not privileged” indicates his special treatment of Liu He, which is confirmed by the funerary park itself. If we take a look at how Emperor Xuan dealt with the burials of HuoGuang, Zhang Anshi, and Liu He after he accessed the throne, we will find that he granted all of them elaborate burials. He publicly granted the first two, who were powerful ministers, while implicitly directed the differentiation of Liu He, who was Emperor Xuan’s uncle—his blood kin. The different treatments of the three manifest the political potency of Emperor Xuan but in fact all of the emperors in the Western Han adopted this strategy: the funerary park of Liu He allows us to peer into it.
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