Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2021 Volume XXVII

doi: 10.17746/2658-6193.2021.27.0497-0502

УДК 904.59(518)

Dogs in Funerary Practices of the Murong Xianbei

Kudinova M.A.

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The article analyzes the evidence on the role of dogs in the funeral rite of the Murongs — one of the Xianbei tribes which inhabited Southern Manchuria in the 3rd—5th centuries AD. It has been established that despite the reports of Chinese written sources on burning the sacrificial animals during the funeral ritual, the early Xianbi also had a practice of accompanying burials of dogs (whole bodies or heads). According to the evidence from the burials of the late 3rd — early 5 th centuries, dogs continued to play an important role in the Murong funerary rituals. The most representative complex is the tomb of Feng Sufu’s wife (415) in Beipiao County in Chaoyang Municipality of Liaoning Province, which contained the accompanying burial of two dogs as well as images of dogs in wall paintings. The burial of dog’s head and paws was also discovered in tomb 74AGM154, dated to the late 3rd — mid 4th centuries AD, near Xiaomingtun village in Anyang Municipality of Henan Province. The image of a dog made in extremely similar style to the murals from the tomb of Feng Sufu’s wife, was found in the elite tomb No. 1 near Beimiao village, west of Chaoyang City in Liaoning Province. It has been shown that burials according to the traditional rite of the Murong Xianbei were also typical for the representatives of other ethnic groups, including the Northern Yan aristocrat Feng Sufu. He came from a noble Chinese (Han) clan which was under strong cultural influence of the Murong Xianbei. The funeral rite of the Murongs also underwent transformations associated with influence of the Chinese (Han) culture, which found its expression in the spread of tomb murals.


Murong Xianbei, donghu, Northern Yan, funerary practices, accompanying burial, tomb murals, dogs

Chief Editor
Academician A.P. Derevyanko

Deputy Chief Editor
Academician V.I. Molodin

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Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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