Archaeologists have unsealed a 1,000-year-old brick tomb in northern China containing unusually well-preserved murals of heavenly and earthly scenes, Live Science has reported. These include drawings of the constellations, the occupant’s pet animals, and even a nature poem.
The circular burial chamber was discovered near the Datong Railway Station in 2011 by the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology. First published in the Chinese journal Wenwu, its findings were recently translated into English by the new archaeological journal Chinese Cultural Relics, published by East View Press.
The domed ceiling contains red diagrams of the constellations; the middle section houses architectural images of wooden buildings; and the bottom section depicts glimpses of domestic life and travel — a camel pulling a carriage, servants surrounding a bed, and attendants serving wine at a party, among many other scenes. The murals are divided into four sections by painted vermillion columns, and yellow picture frames enclose a few independent themes.
While archaeologists didn’t find the remains of the tomb’s resident, they did discover a small, 3-foot-high statue of an unknown man sitting crosslegged in a black robe (among 13 other artifacts found). Researchers believe he was a wealthy Han Chinese who lived in an area ruled by the Liao Dynasty, which controlled vast portions of northern China, northern Korea, eastern Russia, and present-day Mongolia from 907 to 1125 CE.
If the following images are any indication, he enjoyed a leisurely and luxurious afterlife.