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Millennia-old wooden lid carries love of Chinese soldier

(Xinhua)    15:28, February 14, 2021

LANZHOU, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archaeologists have found a wooden lid engraved with the character "love," which could have been a token of love crafted by a frontier officer back in the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220).

The circular lid, with a diameter of 5.3 cm and thickness of 1.5 cm, was supposedly on the top of a utensil. Its two sides were respectively carved with the Chinese characters "Zhong" and "Qing," meaning loyalty and love, said Xiao Congli, research director of the Gansu Jiandu Museum, where the lid is preserved.

The lid was discovered in the ruins of an ancient courier station in the city of Dunhuang, northwest China's Gansu Province, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site the Mogao Grottoes.

As most people during the Han Dynasty were illiterate, the person who had carved the "love" character was more likely an officer guarding the station, located along the ancient Silk Road and far away from the dynasty's heartland, Xiao said.

"It was uncommon for the word 'love' to appear on Han-dynasty bamboo slips (the main writing materials back then), and it was even rarer for the word to be engraved on daily utensils," the researcher said. "It was probably an expression of the soldier's dilemma between loyalty to the state (with his military service) and the urge to unite with his beloved."

Due to their high costs, bamboo slips were mainly used by the government and wealthy aristocratic families in the dynasty, so the soldier could have chosen the wooden lid as a more convenient option to pen down his love, Xiao added.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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