URUMQI (China), Dec. 22 (Xinhua news agency) — Chinese scientists are conducting laboratory work hoping to identify a 2,800-year-old mummy found in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which they believe is the body of a shaman.
The well-preserved mummy of a seemingly Caucasian man with a Roman nose and deep-set eyes was unearthed from a cluster of ancient tombs in 2003 and research work has been going on ever since.
Archaeologists found the mummy most intriguing because a sack of marijuana leaves was found buried alongside the corpse.
The mummy remains intact in its original outfit despite the passage of time: leather hat, heavy coat and boots, huge earrings of copper and gold, a turquoise necklace, a copper-laced stick in his right hand and a bronze ax in his left, according to Li Xiao, head of the heritage bureau in Turpan.
Inside the leather coat, the man was wearing a knitted brown and red mantle with triangular webbing, with pants of the same color but in wavy patterns, and his hands were crossed in front of his chest, said Li.
“From his outfit and the marijuana leaves, we assume the man had been a shaman. He must have been between 40 and 50 years old when he died,” said Li, a noted historian in Xinjiang.
He said the corpse is about 1.2 meters long [3 feet 11 inches] and its legs are at least 80 centimeters [2 feet 7.5 inches].
Li and his colleagues are taking fabrics from the mummy’s clothes for laboratory work, hoping to identify the mummy and unravel more mysteries of shaman clothing, culture, and religion.
The mummy was the best preserved and most decoratively dressed of some 600 excavated in 2003 from a cluster of 2,000 tombs in Turpan. A dozen of the mummies are believed to have been shamans. Archaeologists assume the tombs, which dated from the Bronze Age to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), belonged to several big clans.
The tombs also produced a wide variety of stone implements, bronzeware, color chinaware pieces, and knitwear.
URUMQI, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists have carefully stripped a 2,800-year-old mummy, only to find the corpse underneath the delicate attire of a possible shaman priest had decayed and broken at the neck and arms.
But research work on the mummy would continue, said Dr. Li Xiao, head of the heritage bureau in Turpan, of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
“We didn’t expect the mummy to be so badly decayed, but technically, it won’t prevent us from confirming his status and further research on the history of shamanism in northwest China,” said Li, a noted historian.
In other news . . .
The tabloid Life & Style Magazine reports that socialite Nicole Richie, daughter of singer Lionel Richie, has hired a shaman to perform a $1,000 ceremony to cleanse her apartment of “bad luck”:
A shaman chanted, danced and burned sage in every room of the star’s home for two hours. A friend says, ‘She’s very superstitious and believes in this stuff. It’s a very personal thing for Nicole.’
She said she believes her many troubles in 2006—her battle with anorexia that landed her in a treatment center, her break-up with her semi-celebrity boyfriend, and the horror of learning her beloved cat had broken its leg after plunging ten floors from the balcony of her apartment—all came about after someone in her social circle “hexed” her.
No word on whether she believes her arrest in December for driving under the influence also stems from said hex. She admits to smoking pot, taking Vicodin for menstrual cramps, then driving down the wrong side of the freeway, but was reportedly highly incensed when someone used a cell phone to call the cops.