Look At This Mummy

Okay, I guess it might be slightly creepy to be so enthralled over a mummy, but LOOK AT HIM AND THOSE BOMB CLOTHES. He has a mini kaftan on top of his kaftan….!

I recently purchased The History of Central Asia: The Age of the Silk Roads by Christoph Baumer because the book is right up my alley and heeyyyyy how often is a scholarly book under $40? (The answer: Almost never.) I can’t speak for the text yet as I haven’t had a chance to read it, but there are some glorious images in there–including this gem.

Here’s the caption for the image:

A mummy, discovered in 1995, probably of a Sogdian merchant from the 4th to 5th c. The man was found in a wooden coffin, which was painted on the outside and covered with a woolen blanket with a lion pattern. On the face of the deceased lay a face mask made of a hemp fibre mass which was painted white, with eyes, eyebrows and mustache painted in black and lips in red; a gold foil covered his forehead. He wore felt boots covered with fine silk, and purple woollen trousers with floral and diamond-shaped patterns. Embroidered on the woollen caftan [sic] are golden, naked putti fighting with short swords, as well as goats and bulls standing in pairs on both sides of pomegranate trees. The deceased was also given two miniature kaftans, one of which lay on his stomach, the other one next to his left hand. The motif of the fighting putti comes from the Roman-Hellenistic world, the one of the paired animals standing around a tree from the Iranian-Sassanid sphere. It is not known whether the kaftan was made in Sogdiana or produced locally under Sogdian instruction. Yingpan, grave 5, Xinjiang, China. Archaeological Institute, Urumqi.

Something quick to point out is that even though the guy was probably Sogdian, the burial technique with a face mask and whatnot is a Chinese practice. It’s definitely not something in line with Zoroastrian thought. But this was a Sogdian who was obviously living in China, so perhaps he no longer identified as Zoroastrian.

Regardless, even though he’s a mummy, he’s okay in my books.

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