Thousand-year-old cultural relic repaired in northwest China
Web Editor:International daily
A more than 1,000-year-old bronze money tree was successfully repaired after two years of hard work by archaeologists in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
The bronze money tree was discovered in a brick tomb chamber in Baoji City, Shaanxi Province. The tree was dated back to the Eastern Han (25–220 AD) Dynasty where this style of the artifact was predominantly in fashion in southwest China. The discovery of the tree gives evidence to cultural interactions happening across the Qinling Mountains, which divides northwest and southwest China.
The 110-centimeter tall tree is composed of three parts: a base, a trunk and its branches and leaves.
The tomb where the relic was found had been submerged under water and mud, which had damaged the artifact and had scattered some of the pieces around the burial site. With how intricate the tree is, archaeologists found the restoration process to be challenging and slow.
"At first we cleaned off the rust. After the rust was removed, we classified all the relatively well-preserved leaves and made up the missing ones. We did the cleaning of the rust basically under the microscope with a scalpel, because the tree was too brittle, thin and fragile," said an archaeologist.
Chinese legends stipulate that the money tree is a type of holy tree that can bring money and fortune to people, and that it is a symbol of affluence, nobility and auspiciousness. It can be traced back to primitive societies when the adoration of a holy tree was prevalent. Whilst money trees may be derived from the sun tree myth associated with paradise, the coins link paradise with a material bounty of this world.
According to the existing historical narratives, the concept of the "money tree" is derived at the latest from the Han Dynasty. Cast-bronze money trees are a conspicuous feature of Han tombs in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
These relics have rarely been discovered north of the Qinling Mountains, and this is the best preserved bronze money tree found so far. It offers abundant information regarding history, religion, culture and beliefs, along with giving clues to the cultural exchange happening between southwest China and the rest of the country.