The Secret Of The “Bizarre Hand” In A 3,000-year-old Ancient Tomb In China

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
October 12, 2023

In December 2000, a tomb dating back more than 3,000 years from the Shang Dynasty was found in China.

The process of discovering the “bizarre hand”

After excavation, the tomb’s structure was clearly revealed to be a very large-scale mausoleum. Inside the tomb, archaeologists found more than 200 pieces of jade and many ancient bronzes. However, there is a bronze item with a strange shape that makes experts scratch their heads and still cannot find its use.

That ancient bronze item originally had the shape of a right hand and forearm, with a hollow interior structure, connected to a wooden handle. The hand-shaped bronze item is designed in a very unique style.

The bronze hand is 13.2 cm long; about 6.8 cm wide; The top is carved with patterns of animal faces and eyes, but there are no patterns on the five fingers.

This makes experts feel extremely strange. Even though tens of thousands of tombs from the Shang Dynasty have been excavated, this hand-shaped bronze item has never appeared before. Therefore, the functional use of this bronze object became a hot topic of discussion among archaeologists at that time.

There was a theory that this hand was a decoration, but it was immediately rejected. Some experts also believe that this hand is used to hold food and there is an opinion that this hand functions as a stick to scratch an itch.

However, with the size only equivalent to a child’s hand, and copper being a rare material in the Shang Dynasty, the above conclusions are unreasonable.
What’s special about hand-shaped bronze objects?

Many experts believe that this item is a type of self-defense weapon. But judging by its shape and design, this bronze hand has no claws or weapons hidden inside, so it cannot hurt the enemy.

In the end, experts agreed that this bronze hand was definitely used as a sacrificial tool.

At the same time, the excavation of the tomb also progressed, archaeologists found the remains of the tomb owner relatively intact. According to bone examination results, the owner of the tomb died at the age of 35.

From the records left in the tomb, its owner was a martial general during the reign of King Vu Dinh, the 22nd king of the Shang Dynasty. This general’s name is A Truong.

Following the history books, experts have found a solution about the origin of the bronze hand. This bronze hand was indeed a sacrificial item. During his lifetime, he was a heroic general, many times achieving victories for the court.

During a battle, his arm was cut off. Later, when he died, to show gratitude and want his body to remain intact, the soldiers crafted this bronze hand and placed it in his tomb.