‘ŒดlŒร’สM No.13, April 2002

The Tumulus and Stag Stones at Shiebar-kul in Xinjiang, China


 
HATAKEYAMA Tei

 @A stag stone is one of the common elements of the Eurasian steppe cultures in the first millennium B.C. Many stag stones are found in Mongolia. V. V. Volkov recorded over 450 stag stones at 85 places in Mongolia [Volkov 1981]. After his work, adding to data of the other regions, some ideas on the classification and the chronology of stag stones were proposed [Khudyakov 1987, Novgorodova 1989, Savinov 1994, Chlenova 2000 and others]. However, stag stones in Xinjiang were not discussed enough in their studies.
@In October 2001, I visited a complex of a tumulus and stag stones at Shiebar-kul in Xinjiang. I will refer to the summary of the study of stag stones in Xinjiang and report the complex at Shiebar-kul .
The early information on stag stones in Xinjiang was brought to the Xinjiang Museum, Urumchi in the 1960's. In the 1980's, the archaeological reports on stag stones were increasingly published [Wang Bo 1995, p.239, Wang Bo and Qi Xiaoshan 1995, p.261] and the term "lushi" ( "lu" means "stag" and "shi" means "stone" in Chinese ) was begun to be used [Wang Binghua 1985 and others]. In 1993, ten tumuli were excavated at Dalongkou cemetery in Jimsar approximately 120km east to Urumchi. One stag stone was discovered from the stone mound of tumulus No.9. Dalongkou cemetery is dated to Warring State | Western Han period [Xinjiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and others 1994, Xinjiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology 1997]. It was a valuable excavation for dating stag stones not only in Xinjiang, but also in the steppe of all Eurasia. In 1995, Wang Bo's and Qi Xiaoshan's studies were published. Wang Bo reported 50 stag stones in Xinjiang. Their studies made clear the general view of stag stones in Xinjiang [Wang Bo 1995, Wang Bo and Qi Xiaoshan 1995]. In Russia, A.V. Vrenov referred to them in his study on the bronze age of Xinjiang [Vrenov 1998].
@Shiebar-kul is located in the Altai district in North Xinjiang, approximately 20km west to the border of Mongolia [Fig.1]. "Shiebar-kul" means "flower lake" in Kazakh language. There are lake Shiebar-kul and the other two lakes, therefore this region is occasionally called "Sandaohaizi" or "Sanhaizi" (they mean "three lakes" in Chinese). The complex of a tumulus and stag stones were found in the west shore of the lake Shiebar-kul [Fig.2].
@A stone mound of the tumulus is approximately 60m in diameter and more than 20m in height. It is enclosed with a stone circle which is over 210m in diameter . Judging from the outside of the mound, it seemed to be constructed from stones only. Two rows of stones were found between the mound and the stone circle. One row lies to the west and the other to the north of the mound. Wang Linshan and Wang Bo stated that there were four stone rows arranged like " spokes of a wheel" [Wang Linshan and Wang Bo 1996, p83]. However the plan of the eastern half of the tumulus has been currently broken, as a lot of stones were removed for building enclosures of domestic animals by pastoralists. Therefore at present we cannot see the original plan.
@One stag stone stands on the west side of the foot of the stone mound [Fig.3]. It is 268cm in height [Wang Bo 1995, p.242,QSL-3]. On this stag stone, a diadem, three oblique lines, a circle (earring), a necklace and a gorhytos are engraved. Zoomorphic depictions are not shown. Another stag stone stands to the east of the tumulus outside of the stone circle [Fig.4]. It is 180cm in height [Wang Bo 1995, p. 242, QSL-2]. On the narrow side representations of a dagger and an animal are appeared under three oblique lines. As Wang Bo mentioned, it is possible that the representation of the animal was engraved newly. Except them four stag stones were found near the tumulus [Wang Bo 1995, pp. 242|243]. One of them, so-called Mongol-Transbaikalian type , is now exhibited in the Altai Museum (Altai city, Xinjiang) [Wang Bo 1995, QSL-4].
@Moreover, four stag stones were found several hundred meters to the east of the tumulus. They were not mentioned in Wang Bo's work.
@Three of them are possibly elected at present. So, their current situation may differ from the original. But the location might not be moved so far from the original point because stag stones are too heavy to remove from a distance. These stag stones might have a relation to the tumulus. I would like to number them for reference and report them below;
@Stag stone No.1: It is 176cm in height from the ground, 28cm in width, and 19cm in thickness. On one side a battle-axe and three animals are engraved [Fig.5]. On the opposite side, there are depictions of a sheep with a circle, a gorhytos, a wild boar and a horse [Fig.6]. The wild boar stands "on tiptoe". This pose is well known in the early Scythian animal style in North and Central Asia . The form of the horse, although only its head and foreleg are seen, is like horses engraved on stag stone No.3. Besides the above, a diadem and three oblique lines are found.
@Stag stone No.2 : It stands close to stag stone No.1. It is 148cm in height from the ground, 23cm in width, and 10cm in thickness. On one side there is a circle [Fig.5]. And on the opposite side more than two animal's forms are appeared [Fig.6].
@Stag stone No.3 : It is 150cm in height from the ground, 44cm in width and 8.5cm in thickness. On one side a small circle is engraved [Fig.7]. On the opposite side, a circle, a gorhytos and more than three horses are engraved. The horses stand "on tiptoe". Even hoofs are seen clearly on the largest one's legs. As the above mentioned, this is a characterlistic pose in early Scythian animal style in North and Central Asia. The head of horses is not so small, but legs are fairly long. They look like horses from Central Asia [Fig.8]. On the narrow side there are three oblique lines.
@Stag stone No.4 : It lies near the stag stone No.3. Therefore I could not see all sides of it. I found a circle on one side [Fig. 7, 8].
@The features of this complex are as follows;
@1. The stone mound is large and high. Judging from the fact that stones were removed from the mound during a long time after its construction, the original size Should be higher than the present size. On the other hand, the plan is simple. A plan that a stone mound is surrounded by a stone circle with straight stone rows are lied between them is similar to khereksurs in Mongolia Tuva and the Republic of Altai. But this tumulus is without stone heaps and pavements outside of the stone circle, which are often seen around kereksurs. It may be caused by the geographical condition. Khereksurs in Mongolia ordinarily lie on the gentle slope toward the south or the east at the foot of mountains. So we can see widely spreading kereksurs from a distance, although they are not so high . However, the tumulus of Shiebar-kul is constructed on the flat place. If it had a complicated plan, we could not know from a far. For drawing much attention, there is no need of width, but need of height.
@2. There are all of three types of stag stones in Shiebar-kul. It is the result of the location of this place. North Xinjiang is on the borders of Mongolia, Republic of Altai and Kazakhstan.
@3. Forms of weapons engraved on the stag stones in Shiebar-kul are simpler than those on stag stones of Mongol-Transbaikalian type of the other region. And they are described on the upper part of the stag stones. This feature is found on stag stones of Sayan-Altai type of Gorno-Altai and Tuva [Kubarev 1979, Pls. I|X, Grach 1980, pl.54]. In Mongolia, even on stag stones of Sayan-Altai type or Eurasian type, weapons are generally described as they are suspended from a belt. On Shiebar-kul's stag stones, the places where weapons are incised are too high to be considered them to be suspended from a belt. Furthermore, there is no depiction of belt. It is said that a stag stone is an anthropomorphic sculpture [Chlenova 1962, pp.27|33]. But people who made such stag stones with representations of weapons on the upper part of them without belt seem not to have anthropomorphic image on stag stones. If we recognize stag stones as anthropomorphic sculptures originally, the stag stones without anthropomorphic image could be dated later than the stag stones with anthropomorphic image.

@As the complex of Shiebar-kul is not excavated, the date of its construction don't get confirmed . But because of the existence of the stag stones, it is clear that this complex belongs to the culture of early nomads. The zoomorphic depictions are characteristic of the early Scythian animal style in North and Central Asia. As a result of the above view, the complex of Shiebar-kul can be dated to 8th|7th century B.C., the first half of Spring & Autumn period in Chinese dynasties.

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