A double-faced tomb guardian from the State of Chu in southern China, modern Hubei Province

Tomb Guardian

State of Chu, Hubei province

Warring States period, (475 BC - 221 BC), About 300 BC

The Songs of Chu is a collection of 3rd century B.C. poems from the south China state of Chu. It is a treasure trove of information about how the people lived at the time. For example, the poems reveal that at the time of death, rituals were conducted by a shaman who climbed to the east eaves of the home of the deceased, waved one of his best robes, and cried out ‘The Summons of the Soul’ three times as part of the burial ritual.

Tomb guardians such as this were placed inside the doors of tombs to either protect the soul of the deceased or perhaps escort the departed on the journey to the afterlife.