Burying a Chinese emperor nearly 2,400 years ago was not an easy task. Selection of a location, architecture, and even the personal belongings to be buried with the emperor began as soon as the emperor came to the throne.
Today, deciding how to display those unearthed personal belongings is an equally formidable task.
More than 250 individual artifacts from the tombs and palaces of China's great rulers are now on exhibit at the Denver Museum of Natural History. "The Imperial Tombs of China" presents the country's seven dynasties with art objects dating from 475 BC to AD 1911. Artifacts come from 22 different institutions in China. Many of the funerary and court objects have never left China. Elaborate burials were customary to Chinese aristocracy. Large tombs held every imaginable possession to provide for the dead as if they were still living. Objects in the Denver exhibit include musical instruments, clothing, weapons, and even sacrificial foods in ceremonial bronze and lacquer vessels. In the throne room, cast-bronze bells and jade chimes, embroidered silk robes, implements of court life, and a gold-lacquer Dragon Throne greet visitors. During the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), iron began to replace softer bronze for spear and arrow points and artistic figures. …