The flexed burial is a distinct burial style that has prevailed in various regions of China since ancient time. Scholarly interest for studying the flexed burials in the Central Lake region (areas around Lake Dian and adjacent lands) of Yunnan was noted when one of such graves was discovered in 1955 during the excavation of the ancient necropolis at Shizhaishan. This topic became researched relatively extensively after a good number of flexed skeletal remains were found subsequently in ancient settlements and burial sites in the Central Lake region. Quantitatively, flexed burials only account for a small proportion among the burials in the entire Central Lake region, but this unique mortuary style appears to have conveyed special meanings and therefore deserves further investigations. Incorporating relevant archaeological materials from areas surrounding Yunnan, this project explores the reasons that have led to the presence of flexed burials in the Central Lake region during the Neolithic era and Bronze Age, as well as issues on the evolution of this unique burial custom over time.
Shanshan Wei is an associate researcher in the Rock Art Research Department at The Anthropology Museum of Guangxi and a Ph.D. candidate in Chinese History at Shaanxi Normal University in China. Her research areas include settlement archaeology, Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art, and early archeology culture in Southeast Asia. She is currently working on her research project, The Dian Culture: An investigation of Bronze Age Yunnan in the context of East and Southeast Asian cultures.