A mirror that has been unearthed in a Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) cemetery bears the earliest known image of Confucius, the Nanchang Daily reported.
The object was discovered in the tomb of the Marquis of Haihun, which archaeologists began to excavate in 2011. The burial chamber, near Nanchang, Jiangxi province, covers about 40,000 square meters and is one of the few imperial tombs that have not been looted.
It contains eight small tombs and a burial site for chariot horses.
The mirror, which is made of bronze, is believed to have been used by Marquis Liu He, the grandson of Emperor Wu.
On its cover is a picture of Confucius looking "learned and refined" and "dressed like a commoner" with two of his students, according to the report.
The cover is broken into more than 10 pieces, but a fragment of writing that survived suggests Marquis Liu often read Confucian classics and looked at the image to understand how the philosopher kept calm under pressure, the newspaper quoted an unidentified expert as saying.
Confucius, who lived from 551 BC to 479 BC, was an educator and philosopher whose teachings have influenced generations of Chinese society.