tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Beauty and Adornment in Fertile Lands and Desert: Toiletries from burials of Han China and her Western Neighbors

Author(s): Sheri Lullo

Year: 2015

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


This paper presents preliminary research that compares toiletry sets and other items of personal adornment from burials within the political boundaries of Han dynasty China (206 BCE-220 CE) to those found at contemporaneous sites near the westernmost periphery of the empire. Toiletry sets of the Han elite are commonly enclosed in rounded lacquer cases and include items such as bronze mirrors, combs, boxes with cosmetic powders, hair accessories, and other personal possessions. Comparison of these sets with similar items from richly furnished and well-preserved burials found at sites such as Shanpula (Khotan) and Niya, located along the southern rim of the Tarim Basin in present day Xinjiang province, reveals notable similarities in type and style. This study explores the significance of toiletries and items of adornment to Han and non-Han burial practices, and the extent to which the Han’s presence near the arid Tarim basin impacted—and, perhaps more interestingly, had little effect on—even the more mundane dimensions of everyday life, such as beautification, adornment, and bodily maintenance.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

Beauty and Adornment in Fertile Lands and Desert: Toiletries from burials of Han China and her Western Neighbors. Sheri Lullo. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396206)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America