Société Européenne pour l'Etude des Civilisations de l'Himalaya et de l'Asie Centrale
Archeology of the Tibetan Empire
Oiseau en bois : Envergure des ailes 32,6 cm
Wooden bird. Wingspan: 32,6 cm
Photo DULAN 2005. Beijing University Archeologists
Chinese archaeological ref. 99 DRNM3:84.Tibetan Tombs.Dulan.Qinghai.Beijing.2004
Coupe tibétaine. 7e-8e siècle.
Tibetan Cup. 7th-8th century
In the past thirty years, systematic archeological investigations of Tibetan tombs and chance finds have yielded a range of saddles, jewelry and vessels, as well as textiles with similar design motifs, which reflect the dynamics of multicultural exchange during the expansion of the Tibetan Empire (7th- mid-9th century) along the Silk Routes. The Tibetan aristocracy shared the taste of the Exotic, especially in Sogdian textiles, gold and silverware which captivated the Tang aristocracy. We will examine here the new discoveries from recent excavations in central and western Tibet, and in Qinghai, which modify our understanding of the tomb architecture and decoration as well as the contents, in offerings - diverse offerings, some in gold and silver, sometimes with inscriptions in Tibetan language as well as coffins which may be painted or decorated with metal plaques. The major role accorded to horses in ancient Tibetan funerary customs, as principal guide to the deceased in the afterlife, is confirmed, one now finds as well the presence of Sogdian themes adapted to Tibetan moeurs, and the enigmatic role of numerous representations of birds and hybrid creatures among the funerary contents.