'My Tomb Will Be Opened in Eight Hundred Years’: A New Way of Seeing the Afterlife in Six Dynasties China
Author's Final Manuscript
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
Jie Shi analyzes the sixth-century epitaph of Prince Shedi Huiluo as both a funerary text and a burial object in order to show that the means of achieving posthumous immortality radically changed during the Six Dynasties. Whereas the Han-dynasty vision of an immortal afterlife counted mainly on the imperishability of the tomb itself, Shedi’s epitaph predicted that the tomb housing it would eventually be ruined. This new, pessimistic vision of tombs was shaped by the experience people had in the Six Dynasties of encountering numerous ruined tombs in their daily life. To secure an afterlife for the deceased, they adopted a new strategy, which relied on words: they inscribed epitaphs on stone, concealed them in the tombs, and expected that after the tombs fell into ruin the epitaphs would resurface to be read by future audiences.
Shi, Jie. 2012. "‘My Tomb Will Be Opened in Eight Hundred Years’: A New Way of Seeing the Afterlife in Six Dynasties China." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 72.2: 117–157.