LADY DAI (XIN ZHUI) Joanne Chau 7E

Xin Zhui (辛追), also known as Lady Dai or Marquise of Dai was the wife of Li Cang (利蒼), a wealthy Han ruler. She was born around 213BC and died in 163BC at the age of 50 years around 2200 years ago.

A reconstruction of Lady Dai.

Lady Dai was discovered in a hill known as Mawangdai, on the outskirts of Changsha, Hunan, China. She was unintentionally discovered when workers were digging an air raid shelter during a war in 1971.

The excavation of Lady Dai's tomb.

Forensic scientists discovered that her state was the same as someone who had only recently died. Her hair was intact, her skin was soft and moist, her limbs were flexible, and her blood was still red!

Lady Dai's corpse.

After conducting an autopsy, scientists found blood clots in her veins. They also found evidence of a heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholestrol, liver disease and gallstones.

Her heart attack was caused by obesity, lack of exercise and her unreasonable diet.

138 undigested muskmelon seeds were found in her stomach, considering that muskmelon seeds take at least an hour to digest, we can suggest that she died shortly after consuming the fruit.

Lady Dai was buried extremely well. She was in an artight tomb 12m below ground. Lady Dai was in 4 airtight coffins that fit within each other. Surrounding the inner tomb was 5t of moisture absorbing charcoal, with the top sealed with 3 feet (91.44cm) of clay.

The labelled parts of Lady Dai's tomb

Inside the tombs, Lady Dai who lay wrapped in 20 layers of silk was floating in 80L of an unknown liquid which scientists predict was used to help preserve her body.

Buried with her, were over 1000 precious goods. These included fine fabrics, bizarre delicacies (such as caterpillar fungus), 100 silk garments, 182 pieces of lacquer ware (bowls, plates, trays, vases, basins, toilet boxes).

These items suggest that she was a wealthy person. During those times, only the very wealthy could afford such fine possessions.

Lady Dai is a significant mummy because she is the most well preserved mummy ever discovered! She was in such a good state that forensic scientists could perform an autopsy on her as if she had only recently died.

A forensic scientist performing an autopsy on Lady Dai.

Lady Dai is currently located at Hunan Provincial Museum. She is preserved by a mixture that was developed and injected in her existing blood vessels in 2003.



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Brier, B 1998, The Encyclopedia of Mummies, Bob Brier, USA.

Saldais, M 2011, Oxford Big Ideas: History 7, Oxford University Press, Australia.


Ancient Origins 2014, The enduring mystery of The Lady of Dai mummy, accessed 22 April 2017, <>.

Grey, EG 2015, THE LIVING MUMMY OF CHINA, LADY DAI, 19 March, accessed 22 April 2017, <>.

Wikipedia 2011, Xin Zhui, accessed 22 April 2017, <>.

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