Photo source: Hunan Provincial Museum

Tomb musicians

Western Han, 168 BC
Hunan Provincial Museum, Changsha

These small wooden models (mingqi) were fashioned to entertain the tomb owner in the afterlife. They were unearthed from Tomb No.1, the tomb of Lady Dai, and are the earliest models of musicians that have been found so far in China. They are playing instruments qin (plucked zither) and yu (blown reed, ancestor of the sheng).