Archaic and Imperial China
Xia / Shang / Zhou Dynasties (2100 ­- 256 BC)


Object :
Nº 1708/B
Medium :
Dimensions :
Diameter: 6 cm (2.3")

Description :

‘bi’ disc pendant in nephrite jade. In China, jade is part of a long tradition which appeared as early as the neolithic era in funerary contexts. The ‘bi’ is the symbol of rank and status of the deceased.

In China the ‘bi’ disc is a symbol 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 finishings. 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.