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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, Hongshan Culture, Neolithic Period
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: -300
Creation End Date: -200
Creation Date: 3000-2000 BC
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Jade
Materials and Techniques: jade (nephrite)
Dimensions: Overall: 13.2cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1953.628
Credit Line: Gift of Severance A. Millikin
Context: Jade--a material almost synonymous with China--designates a number of different types of beautifully colored stones that are patterned by natural veins. All examples are extremely hard and must be worked not by cutting but through a grinding process in which quartz or garnet sand is used to abrade away unwanted portions of the stone. In light of the rarity of the material and the technical difficulty of shaping it, it is not surprising that jade was reserved for the greatest artistic achievements of antiquity, including precious jewelry and ceremonial objects such as emblematic axes. Startling ongoing excavations in eastern China are, in fact, showing that the affection for the stone is much older than previously thought, predating the Bronze Age to stretch back to prehistoric times. One recently discovered Stone Age culture named Hongshan, located in northeastern China, has yielded jades that provide new insight into an amazing object long owned by the museum. The subject of the work is a seated figurewith a massive, snouted head supporting four rounded horns. It sits, European style, with pendant legs joined at the bottom by a smooth projecting crescent and its arms in its lap. Once thought to be a tuning peg for a Bronze Age musical instrument, thisunusual jade instead resembles sculptural pendants found at Hongshan sites. These newly uncovered jades help prove the purpose of the channel drilled through the shoulders of Cleveland's jade--presumably intended to accommodate a cord--and the function of the object as a pendant. Like other Hongshan jades, this pendant is a simply but naturalistically modeled symmetrical form with smooth swelling surfaces and few linear details. Although few in number, such pendants are important since they represent theearliest surviving examples of representational sculpture in China. Large complex pendants such as this one must have played an important role in Hongshan society. The subject, probably a human figure transformed by a frightful mask rather than an imaginarycreature composed of human and animal elements, suggests that the pendant may have functioned as a shamanistic object used in special rites linking the mortal and spiritual world. Chinese archaeologists have also suggested that larger representationalsculpture may have played a role in ritual ceremonies, too, because they have uncovered fragments of monumental terracotta images in the ruins of Stone Age buildings at Hongshan sites. K.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1953.628
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art
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