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HOME : Chinese Art : Neolithic Era : Rare Jade Statue in the Form of a Seated Figure (Probably Hongshan Culture)
Rare Jade Statue in the Form of a Seated Figure (Probably Hongshan Culture) - PH.0218
Origin: china
Circa: 4700 BC to 2900 BC

Collection: Chinese Art
Style: Neolithic (Probably Hongshan Cultur
Medium: Jade (Nephrite?)

Location: Great Britain
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Many thousands of years ago, our earliest ancestors were nomadic tribes that survived by foraging the wild for food and shelter. During the Neolithic era, human groups first began to settle down permanently, establishing villages and communities. However, without new technological innovations, this sedentary culture would not have been possible. Foremost among these discoveries were agriculture and tool- making, both of which enabled humans to transform their natural environment into a sustainable society. Many thousands of years ago, the area presently covered by modern China was made up of distinct regions each with their own unique cultural identity. Archaeologists have been able to discern some of these cultures from each other based upon the burial styles, architecture, and pottery, perhaps the most immediate remnant of this age.

The Hongshan culture, a representative of the Neolithic Age, some 5000 to 6000 years ago, wss the prehistoric culture of far northeastern China. Hongshan sites in Chifeng, have been found in an area stretching from Inner Mongolia to Liaoning, and dated from about 4700 BC to 2900 BC. The period of the Hongshan culture was an important stage of early Chinese civilization. It saw relatively developed religious activities and jade ware during this period featured art dominated by animals including dragons, birds and cicadas, made by carving in the round, which were used in religious rituals. The jade and stone artifacts of the Hongshan culture played crucial role in the progress of Chinese civilization. These early jade and stone carvings were typical as ceremonial burial and ritual pieces.

This green jade carving of a figure is a rare example of the neolithic period in China, probably the Hongshan culture. The workmanship of Hongshan jade artifacts are simple but fine. The edges of pieces are often polished into blades. While the identification of the figure remains a mystery, it almost resembles a crouching human figure. The carving seems to represent a human figure wearing an elaborate headdress. A large bulbous head dwarfs the body below. Shoulders protrude from about cheek-height and hands on the figure’s knees, creating two rounded holes. The mammal’s knees are bent on both sides of the body and the feet, distinguished by subtle ridges, are pressed together. Although this artifact may have once served a practical purpose, perhaps in votive offering or memorial, today it is appreciated as a gorgeous work of art, treasured for both its beauty and history alike.

(Reference : Roger Keverne. Jade. Springer, 1991; Li Li. China's Cultural Relics. Cambridge University Press, 2011; Ming Yu. Chinese Jade. Cambridge University Press, 2011.) -MK
- (PH.0218)


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