Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum
The Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum (Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

: 李鄭屋古墓) is composed of an ancient brick tomb
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...

 and of an exhibition hall
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

 adjacent to it. It is located at 41 Tonkin Street
Tonkin Street
Tonkin Street is a street between Sham Shui Po and Cheung Sha Wan of New Kowloon in Hong Kong. It runs northeast to southwest and crossing many major roads in the Cheung Sha Wan...

, in Cheung Sha Wan
Cheung Sha Wan
Cheung Sha Wan is an area between Lai Chi Kok and Sham Shui Po in New Kowloon, Hong Kong. It is mainly residential to the north and south, with an industrial area in between. Administratively it is part of Sham Shui Po District. The Sham Shui Po District includes Mei Foo as well as Lai Chi...

, Sham Shui Po District
Sham Shui Po District
Sham Shui Po District is one of 18 districts of Hong Kong. It covers the Shek Kip Mei, Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan, Lai Chi Kok and Yau Yat Chuen areas of New Kowloon, and Stonecutter's Island of Kowloon...

, in the northwestern part of the Kowloon Peninsula
Kowloon Peninsula
The Kowloon Peninsula is a peninsula that forms the southern part of the main landmass in the territory of Hong Kong. The Kowloon Peninsula and the area of New Kowloon are collectively known as Kowloon....

 of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...


The tomb

According to the structure, calligraphy
East Asian calligraphy
East Asian calligraphy is a form of calligraphy widely practised and revered in the Sinosphere. This most often includes China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The East Asian calligraphic tradition originated and developed from China. There is a general standardization of the various styles of...

 and content of the inscriptions on tomb bricks and to the tomb finds, the tomb is commonly believed to have been built during the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 - 220) although the Southern Dynasties
Southern dynasties
The Southern dynasties comprise the Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang Dynasty and Chen Dynasty, whose capital were at Jiankang , and Emperor Yuan of Liang, as well as the later Western Liang emperors , also set their...

 period was also suggested. It was probably built for a Chinese
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 officer attached to the local garrison.

The tomb is constructed of bricks (average size 40x20x5cm) and consists of four chambers set in the form of a cross. The dome vault at the center was constructed by laying bricks in a spiral, while the other chambers are barrel vaulted. Some bricks are stamped or carved with inscriptions or patterns on the exposed sides. It is believed that the rear chamber is the coffin chamber, that side chambers were used for storage, while ritual ceremonies were performed in the front chamber under the domed roof.

The tomb's cross-shaped structure and the burial objects found inside show great similarities as compared to other Han tombs found in South China, which prove that early Chinese civilisation had spread to Hong Kong 2,000 years ago. The inscription Panyu
Panyu District or Pun Yue District is a district in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. It used to be a county-level city before it was incorporated in the administration of Guangzhou. The name of Panyu dates back to the completion of the conquest of Guangdong by Qin Shi Huang. It was the old name of...

on tomb bricks further confirms the dating, since, according to historical records, Panyu was the name of the county to which the present territory of Hong Kong belonged during the Han Dynasty. Also, the style of the calligraphy used in the inscriptions was an angular version of lishu
Clerical script
The clerical script , also formerly chancery script, is an archaic style of Chinese calligraphy which evolved in the Warring States period to the Qin dynasty, was dominant in the Han dynasty, and remained in use through the Wèi-Jìn periods...

(clerical script) which was generally used in inscriptions on bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 wares and stones during the Han Dynasty. There were no bodies found in the tomb.

Discovery and preservation

The tomb was accidentally discovered in August 1955, when the Hong Kong Government was leveling a hill slope for the construction of resettlement buildings at Lei Cheng Uk
Lei Cheng Uk
Lei Cheng Uk was a group for villages of families of Lei/Lee/Li and Cheng . The villages were demolished for building a public housing estate, Lei Cheng Uk Estate...

 Village (present-day Lei Cheng Uk Estate
Lei Cheng Uk Estate
Lei Cheng Uk Estate is a public housing estate and Tenants Purchase Scheme estate in Lei Cheng Uk, a downhill of Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, located near So Uk Estate. Since the redevelopment in 1980s, the estate consists of 10 residential buildings completed in 1984, 1989 and 1990...

). The tomb was then excavated by members of Hong Kong University and workers of the Public Works Department, Hong Kong under the supervision of Professor F.S. Drake, former head of the Chinese Department at the University of Hong Kong. After excavation, the tomb and an exhibition hall were formally opened to the public in 1957. In November 1988, the Han Tomb was declared as a gazetted monument
Declared monuments of Hong Kong
Declared monuments of Hong Kong are places, structures or buildings legally declared to be "protected". In Hong Kong, declaring a monument requires consulting the Antiquities Advisory Board, the approval of the Chief Executive as well as the publication of the notice in government gazette.As of 12...

 by the Hong Kong Government, and it is now protected and preserved permanently under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance
Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance
The Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, in Hong Kong Law , was enacted in 1976 to preserve the objects of historical, archaeological and palaeontological interest and for matters ancillary thereto or connected therewith...


Due to conservation reasons, visitors have not been able to enter the tomb itself since the mid-1980s. They now have to view it through a glass panel at the entrance passage, and the tomb is sealed in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

The tomb, which had been protected by concrete, waterproofing layers, topsoil and turf, suffered from rainwater leakage problems and its protection underwent a renovation project completed in 2005. The renovation works included the building of a canopy to cover the tomb.

3D Laser Scanning
3D scanner
A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance . The collected data can then be used to construct digital, three dimensional models....

 Technology in digital recording of structures was applied to capture 3D images of the structure.

The museum

The tomb and gallery came under the management of the former Urban Council in 1969. The museum later became a branch of the Hong Kong Museum of History
Hong Kong Museum of History
The Hong Kong Museum of History is a museum which preserves Hong Kong's historical and cultural heritage. It is located next to the Hong Kong Science Museum....

 in 1975. As such, it is managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Leisure and Cultural Services Department
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department , often abbreviated as LCSD, is a department in the Government of Hong Kong. It reports to the Home Affairs Bureau, headed by the Secretary for Home Affairs. It provides leisure and cultural activities for the people of Hong Kong, which was also one of...

 of the Hong Kong Government. A newly built exhibition hall opened in 1988, when the tomb was declared a gazetted monument. The hall was refurbished in 2005.
Details on the discovery and characteristics of the tomb, as well as bronze and pottery artifacts found in the tomb are on permanent display in the exhibition hall.

A 3D digital animation
3D computer graphics
3D computer graphics are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images...

 in the exhibition hall provides a detailed view of the interior of the tomb. Moreover, a 1:1 replica of the inside of the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb is displayed at the Hong Kong Museum of History.

Exhibition Hall

The Exhibition Hall is located next to the tomb.
The first section is about food and drink in Han as it seems because most of what was found in the Han tomb is related to food. The display of this section begins with the old Chinese adage, 'food is the first necessity of the people'. There is a map depicting food distribution, a pictogram
A pictograph, also called pictogram or pictogramme is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictographs are often used in writing and graphic systems in which the characters are to considerable extent pictorial in appearance.Pictography is a...

 of rice distribution and a table of the major food groups. There are also three replicas of figurines. Two of the figurines are cooks, and another one is a farmer.

The second section is about the excavation of the Han tomb. The excavation process, the inside of the tomb and the archaeologists at work are shown with several photographs.The tomb's structure and layout are shown with the models and plans. This displays also how the professionals dated the tomb by using the inscriptions on the bricks.

The third part of the gallery shows the artifacts found in the tomb. As the only Eastern Han Dynasty brick tomb ever found in Hong Kong, the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb has invaluable historic value containing 58 items found on site. Objects include cooking utensils, food containers, storage jars and models (a house, a granary, a well and a stove) made of pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 (50), as well as bowls, basins, mirrors, and bells made of bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 (8). No human skeletal remains were found.


The Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum is served by the Cheung Sha Wan MTR
Mass Transit Railway is the rapid transit railway system in Hong Kong. Originally opened in 1979, the system now includes 211.6 km of rail with 155 stations, including 86 railway stations and 69 light rail stops...

 station (exit A3).


The Han Garden, located next to the museum, was completed in December 1993. The features in this Chinese garden
Chinese garden
The Chinese garden, also known as a Chinese classical garden, is a style of landscape garden which has evolved for more than three thousand years, and which is inspired by Chinese literature, Chinese painting and Chinese philosophy...

 were built following the style of the Han Dynasty and include pavilion
Chinese pavilion
.Chinese Pavilions are covered structures without surrounding walls and are a traditional part of Chinese architecture. While often found within temples, pavilions are not exclusively religious structures...

s, terraces, towers, fishponds and rock sculptures.

Once overlooking the seashore, the site of the tomb is now almost 2,000 m from the sea, following a series of land reclamation
Land reclamation in Hong Kong
Land is in short supply in Hong Kong, and land reclamation has been conducted there since the mid-19th century.-Projects:One of the earliest and famous project was the Praya Reclamation Scheme, which added 50 to of land in 1890 during the second phase of construction...


See also

  • Museums in Hong Kong
  • Declared monuments of Hong Kong
    Declared monuments of Hong Kong
    Declared monuments of Hong Kong are places, structures or buildings legally declared to be "protected". In Hong Kong, declaring a monument requires consulting the Antiquities Advisory Board, the approval of the Chief Executive as well as the publication of the notice in government gazette.As of 12...

  • Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, in Guangzhou
    Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

Further reading

  • Jao Tsung-yi. 1969. Commentaries to the inscriptions on bricks of the ancient tomb at Li-cheng-uk village, Kowloon. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology. Academia Sinica
    Academia Sinica
    The Academia Sinica , headquartered in the Nangang District of Taipei, is the national academy of Taiwan. It supports research activities in a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from mathematical and physical sciences, to life sciences, and to humanities and social sciences.Academia Sinica has...

     (Taipei). Vol. XXXIX, Pt. 1.
  • Watt, James C.Y. 1970. A Han Tomb in Lei Cheng Uk. City Museum and Art Gallery, Hong Kong.
  • Lo Hsiang-lin. 1975. The discovery of a Han tomb in Lei Cheng Uk village, Hong Kong, and the objects found therein. Bulletin of the Dept. of Archaeology and Anthropology (National Taiwan University
    National Taiwan University
    National Taiwan University is a national co-educational university located in Taipei, Republic of China . In Taiwan, it is colloquially known as "Táidà" . Its main campus is set upon 1,086,167 square meters in Taipei's Da'an District. In addition, the university has 6 other campuses in Taiwan,...

    ). Vols. 37-38 (1971), pages 68-83 and plates I-XVII
  • Meacham, William. 1980. Photographs and a field note of the 1955 excavation at Lei Cheng Uk. Journal of the Hong Kong Archaeological Society. Vol. VIII, pp. 129-133.

External links

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