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.