Does This Great Archaeological Find Mean Fairies Should Be Taken Seriously?

Does This Great Archaeological Find Mean Fairies Should Be Taken Seriously?
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Archaeologists in China’s Sichuan Province announced this week they uncovered evidence of ancient efforts to communicate with fairies. A cache of bronze, jade and gold artifacts and evidence of ancient sacrificial rituals were unearthed. Some of the artifacts are one-of-a-kind objects that point to the “fairy world” of ancient Chinese religion and thought, the scientists said. But if you’re dreaming of folk religion and Tinkerbell, think again.

The discoveries were made at the famous Sanxingdui archaeological site in Guanghan City, southwest of Sichuan Province. The real treasure was excavated in sacrificial pits 7 and 8 by a joint team of scholars from Peking University and Sichuan University. Among the items was a bronze and green jade box decorated with dragon-headed handles and once stored wrapped in silk. Professor Li Haichao of Sichuan University, who manages Pit 7, told Chinese news “Given its unique shape, fine craftsmanship and ingenious design, it’s no exaggeration to say that the ship is one of a kind.”

Its intricate collection of sculptures includes mythical creatures, human-snake hybrids, and bronze heads adorned with gold masks. First of all, the iconographic program of the sculptures in pit 8 is “complex and creative”. Zhao Hao, associate professor at Peking University, aforementioned He said they “reflect the fairy world people imagined at the time, and showcase the diversity and richness of Chinese civilization.”

The finds are of great interest, not only because of the historical significance of the site, but also because of the use of the word “fairy” in media descriptions. But “fairy” can be a misleading term here. The term is derived via Old English (fairy) from Old French (Faye) and refers to women who are gifted with magic or magical things and illusions. In pop culture, the word fairy is most commonly associated with Tinkerbell in English-speaking countries, or with Puck if you like to think of yourself as cultured: often spindly magical creatures with wings, associated with forests, the bottom of gardens, and wishes. Beings described as “fairies” in Chinese mythology are stronger spirits often associated with specific locations, particularly mountains, rivers, and oceans.

These “spirits” can be benevolent or malevolent, and are sometimes associated with local spirits’ guardians, ancestral spirits, and ancient humans or animals that turned into gods. Spirit Guard (jingweiFor example, the bird became a Spirit Guard when the Exit Pigeons mountain drowned in the East Sea. An ancient mortal, Strassberg’s A Chinese Bestiary describes her as both “goddess” and “soul guardian” and states that Taoists describe her as “Transcendent”. [human]” and that it is “a symbol of someone who refuses to admit defeat” in modern China. Jingwei’s story is about metamorphosis, and this fluidity is only reinforced by time-changing interpretations of his condition.

However, the use of the word “fairy” in the news is illuminating not only because of what it tells us about the discovery in question, but also because of the way fairies reveal their exclusion from the Western supernatural consciousness. If you look at the word “fairy” Cambridge In the English Dictionary you will learn that fairies are “imaginary”. Look for the more Christian-friendly “angel” and to find a complete scarcity of existential judgments.

All of this means that communicating with angels, spirits and fairies are not different types of activities. If talking to fairies sounds like hockey but offering sacrifices to spirits is expected, then we’re just getting caught up in the cultural biases of our own Christian-centered English language. In the irrevocably hierarchical fragmented pantheon of Anglo-American culture, fairies are at the bottom of the pecking order and are unlikely to be promoted. But Chinese mythology does not share our assumptions and distinctions. If the current interpretation is correct, then the people of Sanxingdui were in contact with beings that could easily be identified as spirits or gods. The language of the “fairy” captures the way Chinese spirits and gods are often animal-human hybrids, but they are quite different aesthetically, as the images from Sanxingdui reveal. You won’t find a pixie cut here.


China News Service

Although scientists have not given exact dates for the latest finds, the Sanxingdui ruins are 3500-4800 years old and experts aforementioned The artifacts are roughly 3000-4500 years old. They are of great importance for what they reveal about the Shu civilization that flourished in the area until 316 BC (when the area was conquered by the Qin dynasty). Literary references to the Shu state are largely mythological and date back to the 4th century BC. Huayang Diaries.

Previous studies of finds at Sanxingdui noted that the culture that flourished there during the Bronze Age was contemporary with that of the Shang dynasty and shared some elements in common with its mythology and religion. The most important of these is the use of bronze sacrificial offerings as a means of communicating with spirits. (This interpretation of the pits is controversial: Chen Shen in 2002 book It was thought that the pits might have been burial pits instead of sacrificial pits. There are no human remains in the pits).

In a report on a bronze statue found in sacrificial pit 1, Shen Zhongchang and Robert Jones to write During this period, “spirits were especially revered” in Shang religion. At the same time, as did Robert Bagley written“There is nothing in Shang archeology that prepares us for the size and sophistication of bronze sculpture” found in pit 1. bagley argues “The sacrificial ceremony that produced the two [Sanxingdui] pits [1 and 2 ] It has no exact parallels anywhere else in Chinese archeology and can only be most generally associated with the rituals that archaeologists have uncovered at other Shang sites. Ran Honglin of the Sichuan Province Cultural Relics and Archaeological Research Institute. aforementioned It is from recent findings that some elements of the statue resemble items from the Zhou dynasty.

In other words, the finds from Sanxingdui are critical in what they can tell us about contact between different kingdoms in ancient China, the development of metallurgical technologies, and ancient Chinese religious rituals. The discovery of these more complex and ornate sacrificial offerings helps to color the rough outline of both Shu cosmology and culture, and what Honglin calls the “early change and integration of Chinese civilization.” When Professor Hao spoke of the “fairy world”, the focus of his statement was actually “the diversity and richness of Chinese civilization.” Reports of ancient Chinese nymphs, however remarkable they may be, are a little short on both the ancient god-spirits and the significance of the discoveries.

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