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Liangzhu sets jade-based ritual culture: Expert

By Wang Shuqing | | Updated: 2019-09-03


A jade cong excavated from the Fanshan site M12, in Yuhang, Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province. [Photo provided to]

Liangzhu boasted the most developed jade culture in prehistoric China, an archaeological expert said.

"Liangzhu jade culture is much more mature compared with previous ones," Liu Bin, president of Zhejiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeological Research, told China Daily website in an interview.

It was not until the Liangzhu period that a jade-based ritual system was established, he explained. Jade was used to worship the deity of the Liangzhu people. Previously, jade was commonly used to worship nature.

He explained relationships among jade objects in appearance and function during the era in his book Ritual Tools and King Power: Jade of Liangzhu, part of the Liangzhu Civilization series published by Zhejiang University Press.

A symbol of the deity-worshiped jade culture is its emblem, a human-shaped deity riding on an animal. It was used as a ubiquitous motif on jade pieces made during the era.

Cong, a jade item that has a square outer section around a circular inner part and a circular hole, and bi, a disc-shaped jade piece, were invented by the Liangzhu people.

"Jade cong and bi were the most important objects during royal ceremonies held to offer sacrifices to heaven. They played a significant role in the ritual system of later dynasties," Liu said.

"The developed jade culture of Liangzhu tells us much about the religion, hierarchical structure, and art expression of the era," said Chen Tongbin, main drafter of the bidding document for the Liangzhu World Heritage Site application.

Dating back 5,300 years, the archaeological ruins of Liangzhu in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, were inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list in early July.

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