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The cemetery is proven to be 1700 year-old and was discovered in the Northwestern part of present-day China, in the city of Kucha, by a team of archaeologists from the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, assisted by the local authorities.
Even though the site has been excavated since 2007 and researchers led by Zhiyong Yu, director of the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute published the findings in Chinese in the Wenwu Journal, it was only recently that the article was translated into English and published in the Chinese Cultural Relics Journal.
The cemetery consists of 10 tombs discovered in Kucha, which have the structure of a “burial mound, ramp, sealed gate, tomb entrance, screen walls, passage, burial chamber and side chamber”, according to the above-mentioned article. It is believed they belonged to the high-status people who were buried there, even though the identity of the skeletal remains is still a mystery and over time, the tombs were reused for the same reasons by various other people.
The findings are a proof of China’s great cultural heritage to the world and consist of a number of carvings found on the screen wall of Tomb named “M3”, the largest of the ten tombs discovered in China. They depict a varied range of mythological creatures, four of them representing different seasons and parts of the heavens such as heavenly deer, mythical animals called Xie Zhi, i.e. symbols of law and order.
Among them, four important Chinese symbols: the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East. The four sides of the screen wall and the center that sustains them send us to the symbolical number 5 of the Oriental traditions.
Alongside with the ancient name of Kucha that “was called Quici in Chinese literature” and “was a powerful city-state of the Western Frontiers”, as researchers claimed, this restates to our minds the idea of China being the Centre of the world, a sacred microcosm that reinforced universal harmony. Idea that can also be found at the basis of Michael’s Ende “Neverending story”, reinforced there by the power of a child’s belief in Innocence and his amazing journey accompanied by the Dog-Dragon in the land of Phantasia.