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Decoding an ancient kingdom

Updated: Sep 23,2015 4:02 PM

While the quest to restore ancient relics goes on, one in particular has caused quite a stir in Beijing. It’s a golden mask, about eighteen-hundred years old, that gives a fascinating glimpse into an ancient Tibetan civilization.

With its lively expression in red and black paint, this square-shaped miniature mask — roughly four by four centimeters — calls to us from the mists of Time.

The mask was found in 2011 in the tomb of a man who died around 35 years of age. It’s regarded as a key discovery of the Xiangxiong kingdom, which prospered in the southwest of Tibet until the 7th-Century AD, when it became subordinate to the Tubo kingdom.

Using a golden mask to cover the deceased likely reflects religious beliefs associated with an ancient temple near the tomb. Similar practices have been observed along the southern slope of the Himalayas in countries like India, Nepal, and Pakistan. This suggests the region had deep cultural and social ties with neighboring countries.

All of which serves to show that there are always new discoveries to be made from old treasures.