Cong (Ts'ung) Prismatic Cylinder and Bi disc, Qijia Culture, Late Neolithic Period (2100-1600 BCE), jade
Round Heaven | Square Earth: Ancient Chinese Jade, TAI Modern
October 28-December 21, 2022
Opening reception: Friday, October 28, 5-7pm
Chinese cosmology views the world in geometric terms. The Earth was square shaped and the Heavens round. As far back as the Neolithic period (10,000 – 2,000 BCE), Chinese artisans have used these shapes to symbolize their universe, which is most apparent when viewing the jade objects on display in Round Heaven | Square Earth: Ancient Chinese Jade.
The Neolithic Period witnessed stone workers carving jade into beautifully polished objects with possible ritual, symbolic or astronomical functions. As jade is both very tough and harder than steel, it is very durable but difficult to shape and carve. As the Smithsonian’s Freer-Sackler Museum of Asian Art describes it, “Working jade is an extremely laborious process that involves both slicing and removing unwanted stone with powdered abrasive minerals.”
This exhibition primarily highlights two distinct types of ritual jade objects: Bi (pronounced Bee), a thin disc with a hole in the center, and Cong (Tsung), a cylindrical tube encased in a square prism. They clearly had great significance, but despite many theories, the purpose of Bi and Cong remain a mystery.
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