A new exhibit in Santa Ana, Calif. called the "Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies of China" features a rare, but stunning find a mummy with fully preserved eyelashes. Referred to as the Marlene Dietrich of the desert, the mummy was found in China's Tarim Basin.The Bowers Museum of Santa Ana managed to secure the set of three mummies after much careful wrangling and political finesse. This marks the first time Chinese mummies have been shown in the United States.
Mummies are perhaps more known for their use in Egypt as a way to preserve the dead for the afterlife. However, the process of mummification is not limited to the deserts of Egypt. Ancient peoples spanning the globe practiced the ritual including the aboriginal guanches of the Canary Islands and Chinchorro mummies in South America. Many naturally formed mummies, including the Tarim Basin mummies, have also been found worldwide.
The museum exhibit boasts three mummies who were mummified naturally due to extreme cold. The main attraction, and most well preserved of the bunch is called the Beauty of Xaiohe, a woman who still has eyelashes and long reddish hair. She still bears a hat wrapped in cords with a feather stuck in it. The Beauty of Xaiohe is approximately 3,800 years old 1,800 years before the Silk Road came into existence.
There is also a child mummy swaddled in a textured purple-brown blanket who is called Baby Bluebonnet. The last mummy is that of a man named Yingpan Man, who was around 55 years of age upon death and experts speculate was a man of wealth. Yinpan Man wears extremely ornate and detailed clothing that is a mixture of European, Greek, Roman and Mediterranean design. He even came with an extra set of clothing, a white mask and gold on his forehead.
Along with the show-stopping mummies, the collection also features a series of clothing, coins, jewellery, an other items that were found at the burial sites. All of the items are in good condition and well preserved.
The exhibit will be at the Bowers until July 25. From there, it will travel to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and then to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.