National Geographic : 1974 Dec
Masterpiece in miniature, this gilded bronze leopard with inlaid silver spots and orange gem stone eyes would fit into a child's hand. One of four found in Liu Sheng's tomb, it may have been placed there as a symbol of military valor. The cat also recalls the royal taste for hunting with leopards and cheetahs. Politically attuned archeologists cataloging the exhibits in Peking explain that such lavish objects "expose the extravagance and decadence of the feudal ruling class." Also, they give credit to the working class for many technical advances of ancient times: making paper, improving methods for manufacturing iron tools, brocading silk, and using acupuncture needles of gold and silver-all skills reflected in the exhibition.