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NEOLITHIC CHINESE ‘BI’ DISC IN TRANSLUCIDE JADE

Object:

Nº 1712

Material:

Jade

Type Object:

Funerary ritual

Dimensions:

Diam: 6 cm (2.3″)

Small ‘bi’ disk in snowy, translucent nephrite jade. This material appears in China as early as the Neolithic period in funeral rituals and is part of a long tradition. The ‘bi’ is a symbol used to convey the rank and status of the deceased. bi’ discs are perforated jade discs, meant to represent the sky or the image of the heavens. The artistry of jade came in subtle forms from Neolithic cultures stretching from the mouth of the Yangtze (Liangzhu Culture) to Southeastern Mongolia. This very hard stone is cut following pure geometrical forms, often with harmoniously placed motifs and perfect finishing. The working of this material could only be done by methods of friction, abrasion and polishing. The composite material of jade, which is by nature extremely hard, was clearly chosen based on its symbolic value of purity and its association with hardness, as well as various other values unique to the Chinese culture. Cultures which followed valued jade for its attributed property of protecting the body on its journey to the world of our ancestors, eventually to sit amongst the immortals.

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