Chapter 2 illustration (p. 18)
- A lacquer screen with the cloud pattern depicted was found in Lady Dai’s tomb.
- The style of the robes and shoes are based on clothing from Lady Dai’s tomb (see p. 1).
- Lady Dai’s hairstyle imitates her portrait in the center of her feiyi (see p. 49). The children’s hairstyles copy a Western Han pottery bust of a young girl.
- The man’s hat is like that of a head steward figurine found in Lady Dai’s tomb (see p. 39).
- The dishes are based on red lacquer dishes on a tray in the north compartment of Lady Dai’s burial chamber.
- Low tables were used for dining during the Han dynasty.
- Bamboo or rush mats were laid on the floors of homes in the Han dynasty.
Chapter 3 illustration (p. 26)
- The house and roofs are based on ceramic mingqi houses found in Western Han tombs.
- High windows keep rooms cool by allowing air circulation but blocking sunlight in southern Chinese houses where the weather is warm. The Changsha area has a subtropical climate.
Chapter 4 illustration (p. 34)
- The north compartment of Lady Dai’s burial chamber was staged as a banquet scene, including real food on lacquer dishes and wooden figurines of entertainers and servants (see p. 36).
- The musicians are based on five figurines in the north compartment (see p. 41).
- Four dancer figurines, clad in silk robes, were in the north compartment.
- Dancers with long sleeves were frequent entertainers at banquets during the Han dynasty. Such banquet scenes are depicted on stone carvings, in paintings, on tiles and bricks, and with pottery figurines found in Han tombs.
Chapter 5 illustration (p. 44)
- What did Lady Dai look like? A forensic artist reconstructed her likeness from measurements of her head. Click here to see pictures of her at various ages.
Chapter 6 illustration (p. 52)
- The son’s uniform is based on the pottery figure of a Western Han dynasty general found in a tomb at Yangjiawan, Xianyang, Shaanxi Province.
- Three silk maps were stored in the son’s library box (see the garrison map on p. 60)
- The lattice is based on an exhibit in the Chu State Culture Gallery in Hubei Museum in Wuhan.
Chapter 2 narrative (p. 19)
- Lady Dai’s death occurred in summertime.
- Lady Dai did eat muskmelon about an hour before she died. During the autopsy, 138½ seeds were found in her digestive tract (see p. 22).
- The autopsy revealed she suffered a fatal heart attack, perhaps after a painful gallstone attack (see p. 22).
- Who was at the scene when she died is unknown.
Chapter 3 narrative (p. 27)
- The “summoning the soul” or “calling-back ceremony” is based on instructions from the Yili and Liji, ancient texts on performing proper rituals.
- Which members of Lady Dai’s family were present at the time and exactly what they said are unknown, but their imagined dialogue reflects the beliefs and intent underlying the ceremony.
Chapter 4 narrative (p. 35)
- The dishes, furnishings, and entertainers describe objects found in the north compartment of Lady Dai’s burial chamber.
- All the foods mentioned in this imagined scene were found in the tombs of Lady Dai and/or her son (see the sidebar on p. 37.) The tray of food in the north compartment actually included ox and pheasant bones.
- Poetry from the Han dynasty describes sleeve dancers’ movements, including their looking like birds in flight.
- The song is an excerpt from “The Lord of the East,” one of the classic Songs of the South (Chuci) from the Chu region where Lady Dai lived.
Chapter 5 narrative (p. 45)
- Nurturing silkworms is hard work because they are delicate creatures who eat almost constantly while they grow.
- Silkworms weave their cocoons as described.
- The feeling of “magic” is my response to the cocoon-weaving process.
Chapter 6 narrative (p. 53)
- Nanyue attacked Changsha in 181 BCE, and tensions between them lingered.
- Military commanders of the Han dynasty did rely on maps and books on strategy, both of which were found in the son’s tomb (see p. 60).
- Across the ages around the world, mothers of soldiers have worried about their sons.