Was this the truth behind the black people outside?
“Look at the slave who was deboned,” Fatty said from the side. “He appears to be very dark. Do you think he’s a Kunlun slave?”
Kunlun slaves were mainly Southeast Asian islanders who had brownish-black skin, and only a few of them were actually Africans who came over with the Arabians. Since the Tang Dynasty, nobles widely used them as servants and guards. This place was built during the Yuan Dynasty, which was a time when such dark-colored people were very common.
But that wasn’t what I was focused on right now. First of all, I couldn’t help wondering why such contents were depicted on this coffin lid.
This was the coffin of this giant corpse, so its contents should be related to this giant corpse’s life.
I moved my flashlight and looked at the patterns on the side, discovering that it was only a small part of a huge lacquer painting. There was a full picture painted on the back of the coffin, but I don’t even know how to begin to describe it.
To be honest, I’m very good at describing things, but I really can’t do it in regards to this image. Out of all the coffins I had viewed in the past, this position on the coffin always depicted the tomb owner’s life in the immortal realm. I was quite certain that this coffin wasn’t depicting the immortal realm, but it wasn’t a completely fictional world, either. I even had the sense that the elements within this panting were familiar to me.
This was the first time I had seen such a wonderful and clear depiction of the three-faced weirdo that I could only see with my peripheral vision before. The person was in the middle of the lacquer painting and was wearing an official uniform from ancient times. He appeared to have three faces looking in three different directions.
It was probably the giant corpse himself.
Each of these three faces had three different expressions, and one of the faces was facing a banquet. This banquet was just like a fairyland, with cranes and phoenixes depicted in it. I could tell from the decorations that it was the banquet outside.
The expression on this face was very indifferent, just like the Buddha statue I saw earlier that was hanging on the ceiling and watching the whole banquet.
The slave I just saw being tortured, deboned, and stuffed into the bamboo tube was in front of another face. This was apparently documenting how the funerary objects were made. I looked around and saw many funerary objects such as livestock, sacrificial maids, and numerous horses being prepared.
The expression on this particular face was very sinister, just like the expression this giant corpse was wearing now.
I was surprised when I saw what was in front of the last face.
It was a magnificent building, in front of which were three stone tablets.
The style of this ancient building was like that of a complex full of stone houses. Some of them even appeared to have been cut right out of the mountain. It definitely wasn’t done in the style of imperial tombs from the Central Plains, but the scale was very large. In the middle of this ancient building complex, I saw something like a black spot.
This last face had its eyes closed and its head lowered, as if it were respectfully listening to something.
Murals sometimes required you to make far-fetched guesses, but I felt as if these three faces divided the lacquer painting into three areas.
One was the area for funerary objects, the other was the area for sacrifices—i.e., the banquet—and the last was the area where the world’s second most valuable tomb was.
The three stone tablets had me feeling very concerned, because I seemed to have seen them in some kind of hallucination before.
To be honest, I was even more confused after examining the lacquer painting, because it didn’t seem to follow any rules.
If you were a painter from the Central Plains, then a vertical composition should have the funerary object and sacrificial areas on both sides while the face in the middle was looking at the world’s second most valuable tomb.
But that wasn’t the case here. The world’s second most valuable tomb was on the left, the funerary object area was seen from the front, and the sacrificial area was on the right.
Based on that face’s solemn expression, it was obvious that the world’s second most valuable tomb was the most important and should be on the central axis of this composition—it was simple human aesthetics, after all—but it wasn’t.
This was causing my obsessive-compulsive mind to constantly churn.
Although the content of this lacquer painting was very serious, it almost seemed as if was randomly created without any sort of design. I didn’t know why that would be, unless there was some kind of hidden logic within the painting that I hadn’t discovered yet.
But the three-faced person had really been painted very well, which reminded me of an excerpt from “The Classic of Mountains and Seas”:
In the great wilderness, there is a mountain called Great Wilderness Mountain, where the sun and the moon fall. There are some people there who have three faces. They are the children of Zhuanxu and have three faces and one arm. These three-faced people do not die. This place is the so-called Great Wilderness.(1)
I needed to study this corpse very carefully if I had the chance.
I took a moment to think about it before asking Fatty, “Do you have any clues? I don’t understand this thing. Maybe you’ll be able to resonate with it since you’re so poorly educated.”
“It’s actually hard for people to pick out the details in this lacquer painting,” Fatty said. “You have to look very carefully. There are some things in it, which are very amazing. In fact, the whole thing is absolutely symmetrical. Those three faces are actually looking at three things, which are all hidden in the composition.”
(1) Out of the 18 chapters of “The Classic of Mountains and Seas”, I believe this excerpt is from “Chapter 16—Classic of the Great Wilderness: West”. Zhuanxu is one of the Five Legendary Emperors and the grandson of the Yellow Emperor (reigned 2513-2435 BC).