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Fabric mudguard, gilt-bronze ornaments found in Silla princess's tombBy Kim Hae-yeon
Published : July 4, 2023 - 15:24
GYEONGJU, North Gyeongsang Province -- Remnants of a pair of fabric mudguards decorated with flower petals made with jewel beetle wings were discovered at Jjoksaem Tomb No. 44 in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, the Cultural Heritage Administration announced at a press conference at the Gyeongju Jjoksaem site, Tuesday.
A total of 780 artifacts were unearthed along with the mudguards during the investigation of the wooden chamber tomb piled with stones and earth mound, a type of tomb specific to the Silla Kingdom. The artifacts included fragmented remnants of burial accessories, such as a gilt-bronze crown, necklace, bracelets, a belt, shoes, earthenware and textiles.
Researchers have determined these ornaments to have been created for a young 5th-century princess. The size of the relics suggests that the princess was approximately 130 centimeters tall and around 10 years old.
"While previous discoveries of Silla mudguards primarily featured ‘cheonma' (a winged horse-like creature), we are delighted to introduce a new type of mudguard with jewel beetle wings found in Jjoksaem Tomb No. 44," Choi Eung-chon, head of the CHA, said at the conference.
The nearly 10-year investigation that began in 2014 and ended last month successfully restored the complete structure of the wooden chamber tomb and stone mound, according to the CHA.
In 2020, hundreds of gilt-bronze ornaments decorated with jewel beetle wings were discovered near the head of the deceased, where burial goods were left. Research determined that these ornaments were part of the mudguard, a bamboo fabric adorned with the wings of jewel beetles.
The mudguard, measuring 80 centimeters in width and 50 centimeters in height, consists of a woven bamboo outer frame covered with hemp cloth on the inside along with three layers of hemp cloth and silk fabric on the outside.
Gilt-bronze leaf-shaped decorations featuring the wings of jewel beetles adorned the fabric, along with gilt-bronze hanging accessories and thin, flat gilt-bronze plates. These leaf-shaped ornaments were meticulously crafted by overlapping two wings of jewel beetles on a gilt-bronze plate, with additional plates attached to the edges for decorative purposes. The mudguard features 50 flower patterns created by combining four leaf-shaped ornaments with a hanging accessory, showcasing the exceptional craftsmanship of Silla.
"We still have to figure out the historical implications of the Silla jewel beetle decorations and any potential connections they may have with the princess," a senior researcher at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage said.
In addition, a trace of fabric was found near a gilt-bronze crown, covering a bundle of organic matter identified as the princess's hair.
The wrapping of the fabric indicated a hairstyle of the time, where several strands of hair were tied together. Fabrics used for gilt-bronze relics were also identified, revealing a weaving technique known as "samsaikkyeonggeum," which involves three colors of thread to create intricate patterns.
Furthermore, leather, silk and wool fabrics made of goat hair were found in gilt-bronze shoes, displaying vibrant colors visible through the openwork, providing valuable evidence for textile research.
A video clip of the conference and photos of the relics are available to view on the Cultural Heritage Administration's YouTube channel.
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