The recently found pair of 2,200-year-old gold bronze Buddha statues is the oldest of their kind to be discovered in China.
The miniature figurines were discovered among a cache of relics found in an ancient tomb of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
One statue, Buddha Shakyamuni, shows Buddha standing on a platform while dressed in a long cloak, and the other is for Five Tathāgatas, which highlights the five great Buddhas.
The total height of the Sakyamuni statue is 10.5 centimeters, the diameter of the base it sits on is 4.7 centimeters, and the full height of the Five Tathāgatas is 15.8 centimeters, and the width is 6.4 centimeters.
Based on preliminary results of the Buddhas’ modeling characteristics, manufacturing process analysis and metal composition detection, it can be concluded that the two statues are of Gandhara style and were made locally, which has significant research value for the introduction and Sinicization of Buddhist culture.
These Gandhara-style figures are 200 years older than earlier Buddha statues discovered in China.
Between the 1st and 7th centuries BC, Gandhara-style Buddhist visual art emerged in northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan.
Archaeologists excavating in northwestern Shaanxi Province, in China’s central region, uncovered the Buddha statues, which are located near the world-famous terracotta army of life-size soldier sculptures discovered in the 1970s.
According to CGTN, the excavations, which took place from June 2020 to November 2021, revealed 3,648 ancient tombs dating from the Warring States period (475 B.C. – 221 BC) through the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911BC).
Apart from the emperor’s tomb, the excavation site is known as Hongduyuan cemetery in the north of Chang’an, now known as Xi’an, as the capital city of ancient China’s Han and Tang dynasties, was the highest-grade cemetery in the period, according to Li Ming, the archaeological project’s commander.
The majority of persons buried in the tombs are royal relatives, high officials, and dignitaries, all documented in historical literature.
In April 2021, archaeologists working at a separate excavation site in China unearthed more than 80 bronze mirrors from 2,000 years ago, many of which are still reflective.
They were unearthed in a large-scale ancient tomb during the Western Han Dynasty.
The mirrors were positioned near to the head or around the upper torso of corpses inside the tombs and ranged in size from three to eight inches, Daily Mail reported.
One of the mirrors shows four Chinese characters: jia chang fu gui, which roughly translates to ‘home of prosperity.’
The graveyard, located in the Gaozhuang Township in Shaanxi’s Xixian New Area, contains more than 400 tombs of the dynasty’s aristocracy and a collection of pottery and metalware.