The painting “Skeleton Illusion” by Song Dynasty artist Li Tung, dates back 800 years ago. It is still a mystery even now, attracting the interest and research from many arts and history experts.

The painting is 10 inches long and slightly wider, and is currently kept in the Beijing Palace Museum.

There are 6 figures in the ancient Chinese painting. In the middle, a large dry skeleton is holding a small one like a puppet. On the right, a smiling baby crawls over with a tiny skeleton. Behind the baby is a woman stretching out her arms as if trying to hold the baby. On the left, another woman pulls her shirt to breastfeed the baby.

In addition to humans, the painting also depicts a luggage load with different objects, including umbrellas, vases, mats, costumes and so on.

There are various explanations for its meaning. Some believe the figures wander on the street selling goods for a living, while others speculate that the painting depicts a family going out or on a journey to relocate. However, the most confusing and surprising feature is the larger skeleton. It has 206 bones, exactly the same as the number of bones in an adult human body. The larger skeleton seems to be sitting with a detailed description and arrangement of bones. It can be asked, in that era, 800 years ago, with an undeveloped medical level, how did people have such a deep understanding of the human body?

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