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A shining moment for the north

Discoveries shed light on early royalty as exhibition highlights luxuries, Zhao Xu reports.

By ZHAO XU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-29 10:20

A gold mask all from the tomb of the Princess of the State of Chen and her husband.[Photo provided to China Daily]

In 1018, a princess of China's Liao Dynasty (916-1125) died at the tender age of 18 and was laid to rest beside her husband, almost 20 years her senior, who died the previous year, barely two years into their marriage.

There they lay undisturbed for nearly a millennium in a corner of the modern-day Inner Mongolia autonomous region in North China. When their resting place was finally discovered by archaeologists in 1986, the couple, both among the highest nobility of Liao's ruling class, proved their capacity to dazzle, with everything that glittered, including two gold masks covering their faces.

Today, one of the masks, worn by the princess, is on view at the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou city, East China's Jiangsu province, in an exhibition titled La Bella in the Northern Land that runs until Sunday.

"These were no average beauties, but princesses and royal consorts whose elevated status meant much more than a luxurious lifestyle," says Xu Xincheng, the exhibition's curator.

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