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Gilded bronze shoes found in 6th-century ancient tomb in Naju

Gilded bronze shoes found in 6th-century ancient tomb in Naju

Posted October. 11, 2019 07:40,   

Updated October. 11, 2019 07:40


A pair of shoes made in gilded bronze during the Baekje dynasty, which was excavated in 2014 from a stone chamber of the Jeongchong ancient tomb in Naju City, South Jeolla Province, had been owned by a woman in her 40s who died in the late fifth or early sixth century, according to recent research.

It is Oh Dong-sun, an art and science researcher at the Naju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, who made such a claim in his brief published on Wednesday. Ahead of the international academic conference titled “Gilded bronze shoes and coffin in ancient East Asia” on Thursday, he summarized the traits of the burial ceremony conducted in the stone chamber No. 1 of the Jeongchong ancient tomb and the shoes made in gilded bronze.

The Baekje gilded bronze shoes are 32-centimeter long, 9-centimeter high, and 9.5-centimeter wide with the ornament of a wide-eyed and open-mouthed dragon ascending to heaven on top of the left shoe. The dragon was the coat of arms representing the then-ruling class.

The researcher introduced a forensic opinion that a skull discovered in the wooden coffin in the north of the coffin that contained the gilded bronze shoes may be the owner of the shoes. “The skull is thought to belong to a woman in her 40s who was 146 centimeters tall,” he said. The woman’s face was restored with computer graphic technology.

“The woman is believed to have used the gilded bronze shoes, as well as high-end silk and a wooden coffin made in Japanese umbrella-pine tree,” explained Oh. “In the region near the Yeongsan River where the ancient tomb is located around the sixth century, women’s social status was as high as the heads of local communities.”

Jeong-Eun Kim kimje@donga.com