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Posts Tagged ‘Liangzhu culture’

Jade artifacts of the Liangzhu culture – 2

Here is jade hairpin unearthed at Linxu, Shandong Province, which belongs to the Longshan cultureIt is a long time since we began taking note of the decorative designs on jade artifacts of the Liangzhu culture –– particularly on those used at sacrificial ceremonies –– that feature animal faces complete with eyes, noses, mouths and other organs. Despite that, discovery in 1986 of the largest cong, or the “king of congs” as it was dubbed later, still took us by surprise. The “king”, which is 8.8 centimeters long and 17.6 centimeters in diameter and weighs 6.5 kilograms, was unearthed from an ancient tomb on Mt. Fanshan, Zhejiang Province. Animal faces in neat groups are engraved on its surface, with the lines recognized as the most elaborate for jade artifacts of the Liangzhu culture. Each group consists of two parts. The upper part is an inverted trapezoid, which bears a broad human face featuring two big eyes, a flat nose, a feather crown and two arms stretching straight and the hands holding the eyes of the image in the lower part.  The lower part features a fierce-looking, big-eyed animal face that has a big nose and an oblate mouth. The human head and animal face are cut in relief, and the human arms and animal face, in intaglio. Arrangement of the two parts suggests conquest of a monster by an all-powerful god.

Altogether, 16 such patterns, arranged in symmetrical order, are counted on the “King of all congs”. It may be worthwhile to mention that this kind of “god vs. monster” design is found on most jade artifacts unearthed from Mt. Fanshan. What merits even more attention is that such a pattern is also found on the upper part of a jade ax-spear, the symbol of military authority. Basing themselves on the symbolic weapon, archeologists have concluded that the design could be the emblem of the Liangzhu tribes and that animal face designs on jade artifacts unearthed earlier could be the simplified or distorted version of the emblem.

Jade artifacts of the Liangzhu culture – 1

A jade cong produced 3,300-2,200 years ago, a typical art object of the Liangzhu culture. For its size, it is dubbed as “king of all congs”” width=”90″ height=”65″ />Back in the early 20t h century, in Shanghai, adventurers and merchants from the West were able to buy some jade artifacts unique in shape and strange in design. One is a long hollow piece of jade carved with images so strange that it was difficult, if not impossible, to tell whether they were human or supernatural. People had no idea of where, when and for what purpose the jade piece was produced, including even the person who sold it.

Two or three decades later, in Yuhang County of Zhejiang Province, east A jade object that takes the shape of a crown, a relic of the Liangzhu culture. It was unearthed at Yuyao, Zhejiang ProvinceChina, archeologists found some jade artifacts identical in shape and design to the piece mentioned in the proceeding paragraph, but they were still at a loss for when such objects were produced. It was not until the 1980s did experts conclude that these relics belong to the Liangzhu culture dating back to 3,500-4,000 years ago in some areas on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. This came after excavations on Mt. Caoxie and Mt. Zhangling in Wuxian County, Jiangsu Province, during which numerous jade artifacts of the Neolithic Age were found, including cong (long, hollow pieces with triangular sides), bi (round piece with a hole in the middle), as well as yue (battle-ax). Likewise, the Shanghai jade piece sold in the early 20th century was identified as a typical art object of the Liangzhu culture.

Jade artifacts of the Liangzhu culture are found mainly in Jiangsu, Zhejiang A jade ornament of the Liangzhu culture dating to 2,000-1,500 years ago. It was unearthed at Yuyao, Zhejiang Provinceand Anhui provinces on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. A social estate system was already in place in these areas when these were produced, under which the privileged depended, in addition to forces of arms, on divine power and witchcraft to run roughshod over their subjects, the majority of the local people. That may explain why we attribute most jade artifacts of the Liangzhu culture – cong, bi as well as objects that take the shape of hats, semi-circles or three-throng spears to primitive witchcraft and worshipping of the supernatural. As a matter of fact, these artifacts are often geometrical in shape with symmetrical patterns engraved on them, in a style that denotes solemnity. While the largest in size, Cong pieces– those long, hollow pieces with triangular sides –outnumber jade artifacts of all other types belonging to the Liangzhu culture.