[Sui-chou; Sui xian; Sui hsien]
Small town in Hubei Province, central southern China. The tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng, who died in 433 bc or shortly after, was discovered near by, at Leigudun. Excavated in 1978, Tomb 1 at Leigudun represents a major source for the princely art of the Eastern Zhou period (771–256 bc). Although in antiquity attempts were made to plunder the tomb, the personal effects appear to have been left intact, and the more than 15,000 objects are of exceptionally high quality. Unlike most sites in pre-imperial China, the tomb can be dated precisely by an inscription on a bell, a gift from the king of Chu to the occupant of the tomb. Although the tomb and tomb furnishings display close links with the culture of the state of Chu, known in particular from sites at Jiangling, Xinyang and Changsha, they also display features not seen before.
The religious or magical paintings on lacquer that adorn the Marquis’s inner coffin are distinctive. On each of the long sides, divided by horizontal and vertical lines, are two rows of hybrid guardian figures flanking the representation of a double door. A window is depicted at the foot of the coffin. Apart from a few repeated animal or geometric motifs, the rest of the composition teems with real and imaginary creatures, dominated by reptiles and birds. On other pieces of lacquered wood, hunting scenes and scenes of dance and music represent some of the oldest extant Chinese paintings (...