Tsrpmummies's Blog

05 – Famous Mummies

The Cherchen Man

The Cherchen man with solar symbols painted on his face

The Cherchen Man is a fifty-five year old male with red hair and possible of Caucasian decent. He would stand at a staggering six feet and seven inches tall and was found in a comfortable reclined position, described as though he was merely asleep and would wake at any moment. He is wearing brightly coloured clothing; a red robe, white socks with vibrant blue and yellow stripped detailing and braided bands/straps made of blue, red and orange or yellow tied around his wrists.

What’s even more interesting is that he was not buried alone. In the chamber with him were three females and an infant. One of the females was about fifty-five years old with light brown hair parted into four braids. Her face had also been painted with spirals on either side of her nose and eyelids, and a white stripe between her eyes. Another had decomposed partially with only parts of her upper and lower body still preserved, while the third female had entirely decomposed into a skeleton. The last to be mentioned is the infant boy – known as ‘Baby Blue’ aged three to six months – was buried in a pit a few feet away from the main tomb, next to him was a baby-bottle made with a sheep’s udder. He had light brown or blond hair, his nostrils had been stuffed with pieces of red wool and flesh colour paint was applied on his face. His eyes were covered with two blue stones, this might have been to indicate their colour but it is a common practice in Central Asia to place coins on the eyes of the deceased, this practice is also known in Mongolia and reaches back to the Parthians.

Continuing with the question of whether the Xinjiang in inhabitants believed in an afterlife, evidence from the Cherchen Man suggests that it is quite possible that they did. The Tarim Basin dwellers were fond of spiral solar symbols for good luck which were found engraved on the bridles of their horses and were also found painted on their faces with yellow ochre, as depicted in the picture to the left, on the temple of the Cherchen Man. The use of ochre in burials is a tradition is found widely across Eurasia.

Interpretations of this practice are numerous…, including suggestions that the colours indicate life…, death or the colour of the sun, or that the practice was a prophylactic againts death…, a method of purification, or a means by which one might alter the appearance of the deceased through adornment to make them ready for the afterlife.

(Mallory, 2000)

The Beauty of Loulan

Beauty of Loulan (Original image from: http://www.semp.us/images/Biot665PhotoU.jpg)

The Beauty of Loulan was found along the banks of the Towan River, she is dated around 4000 years old and is the oldest mummy found to date. She is aged around 40-45 with long brown hair. When found her skin was smooth and redish-brown, she is dressed in wool and leather boots, along with a headdress made of felt over a woven base with two goose feathers as ornaments. Next to her was a comb and a woven basket.

It is not only her carbon-dated age that makes her a famous mummy, the Beauty of Loulan has become an icon of the Uyghur people. She is claimed to be their ancestor and has been titled as the mother to their nation; her reconstructed face now adorns many national Uyghur posters.

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