Earliest Depiction Of Confucius Found In Disgraced Emperor’s Tomb

Published March 6, 2017
Updated February 27, 2019
Published March 6, 2017
Updated February 27, 2019

The find may reveal more about the philosopher's life.

Confucius Statue

China Photos/Getty ImagesStudents dressed in ancient clothes stand in front of the statue of Confucius during a ceremony to worship the Chinese philosopher and educator at the Changchun Confucian Temple.

A group of archaeologists has recovered a polished bronze mirror containing the oldest known image of Confucius, a world-renowned Chinese philosopher who lived 2,500 years ago.

Confucius is painted into the mirror’s frame, alongside two of his students. According to China Daily, Confucius is depicted as a commoner.

The bronze mirror is roughly a yard tall and dates back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 24). The archaeologists found it while excavating the tomb of Chinese Emperor Liu He, the grandson of China’s only female ruler.

Confucius Mirror

China DailyThe polished bronze mirror.

According to Yang Jun, head of the excavation team, Liu He used the bronze mirror as a folding screen as well. Liu He didn’t last long as emperor. After just 27 days on the throne (and an accumulated 1,127 offenses during this time), He was deposed.

His imperial tomb — at a massive 430,556 square feet in size — is one of the few of its kind to have evaded looting.

Good thing, too. Researchers have found more than 20,000 ancient relics in the Nanching, China-based tomb, according to the Telegraph and China Daily. The haul includes 285 gold ingots, 48 gold horse hoofs, 20 gold plates, finely detailed carriages, jade jewelry, 3,000 bamboo slips, and 25 gold hooves that supposedly came from a Qilin, a mythical animal.

And there’s likely much more where that came from. While the researchers have been excavating the tomb since 2011, they still have much more to detail and catalog.

Next, check out this ancient Chinese tomb full of mysterious figurines, before finding out about China’s only female ruler by killing her children.

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