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2. Communication by design: Two silk manuscripts of diagrams (Tu) from Mawangdui tomb three

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Chapter Summary

Pattern and repetition underlie much of what constitutes human recognition and knowledge. Both are at play in the predisposition to formulate a world of resemblances from visually and aurally experienced phenomena, and to attribute existence and significance to that world. This chapter explores the implications of this feature of human mentality in the context of the Han conception of tu "diagram" through an examination of two silk manuscripts of diagrams from Mawangdui tomb 3, at Changsha, Hunan (burial dated 168 BC). The author chose to name the manuscript Tianwen Tu (Diagrams of heaven's patterns), understanding tianwen to refer to any significant pattern manifest in heaven, or in the space between heaven and earth. The name for the second manuscript is Fanxin Tu (Diagrams of banner tokens), and the author argues that the manuscript includes the earliest drawings of fu "talismans" intended to be used for magico-religious purposes.

Keywords: Changsha; Fanxin Tu; Mawangdui tomb 3; Tianwen Tu



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