China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel sets out to explore curious, creative, and surprising aspects of early Chinese approaches to death and the afterlife. Bringing together four interdisciplinary scholars who together specialise in archaeology, art history, textual history, material culture, Egyptology, and historical ethnomusicology to name a few, the panel aims to reveal just how ‘lively’ early Chinese perceptions of death and the culture surrounding it truly were.
The four presenters will examine somewhat unexpected interactions between different tokens of everyday life – namely food, music, and entertainment – and the realm of the dead. Topics under discussion will include a comparative analysis of ancient Chinese and Egyptian board games and their relation to the netherworld; food and drinks from the living as a means of nourishing the dead; acrobatic performances as part of funerary practices; and the role of music beyond and around death. Together, we hope to offer a set of new perspectives pertaining to the strong ties between the worlds of the dead and the living in early China, ties that manifested themselves in a picture of death much more lively than one would have imagined.