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To Turn Soybeans into Gold: a Case Study of Mortuary Documents from Ancient China (“黃卷以當金”:古代中國隨葬文獻個案分析)

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The Eastern Han period tomb-quelling text of Zhang Shujing 張叔敬, which dates to 173 CE, confirms that living people believed the dead could use soybeans and melon seeds (huangdou guazi 黃豆瓜子) to pay taxes in the underworld. The knowledge of this only came to light with the discovery of the tablet Taiyuan Has a Dead Man (*Taiyuan you sizhe 泰原有死者), which reveals a previously unknown Qin-Han belief that the dead regarded soybeans as gold. I suggest a direct association between the above two beliefs: soybeans and melon seeds were used as substitutes for small natural gold nuggets to pay taxes in the underworld because of their resemblance in shape and color. Furthermore, a huge quantity of painted clay balls shaped like large soybeans (dashu 大菽) are recorded in the Mawangdui 馬王堆 tomb inventories (qiance 遣策), which indirectly supports this interpretation.東漢熹平二年張叔敬鎮墓文有“黃豆瓜子,死人持給地下賦”之語。本文認為此句應與北京大學藏《泰原有死者》牘的“黃卷以當金”結合起來理解:黃豆、瓜子與細小的真黃金顆粒外形相似,因而被生人作為真金的替代品奉獻給死人,用以繳納地下賦稅。馬王堆漢墓中兩支記有“彩金如大菽”的遣策簡也從側面支持了這一解釋。

Affiliations: 1: Center for Research on Chinese Excavated Classics and Paleography, Fudan University, Shanghai (上海,復旦大學出土文獻與古文字研究中心) souljacker@126.com

10.1163/24689246-00201003
/content/journals/10.1163/24689246-00201003
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2019-09-24
2018-10-21

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