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Disc (bi)
Place of Origin: China
Historical Period: Western Han dynasty (206 BCE-9 CE)
Materials: Nephrite
Dimensions: Diam. 6 in, H. 15.2 cm
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Jade And Stones
Object Number: B60J671
On Display: No

Description

Label:

Ritual and burial objects of some scale began to appear in increasing numbers during of the Warring States period and on into the Western Han. Most common among these was the bi. The reasons for this increase at least in part can be attributed to a combination of economic factors, greater access to material from Hetian (Khotan), and changes in funerary practices.

Funerary paintings of the Western Han period depict the bi as part of an ensemble tied together with cords. Bi are shown on the two painted silk banners from tombs number I and III at Mawangdui, Changsha, with two dragons entwined through the central opening and with a triangular ornament suspended from the bi by a cord with tassels. A bi in the Seattle Art Museum similar to the example under discussion actually has discolored areas showing where such cords would have passed through it. It is thought that these ensembles were placed on top of coffins and played an important role in Han funerary practices.

The hexagonal pattern, known as the rush or matting pattern in Chinese literature, is commonly found on jade bi of the Western Han period. It is created by a series of lines cut at angles. The first stages of creating the "sprouting grain" pattern may have been identical; thus this decoration is a simplified version of a more complex and time consuming earlier pattern. This again may suggest a change in attitude toward the objects created from jade and may also suggest that theywere intended only for burial.

This piece is quite thin and is cut from a piece of yellowish Khotan jade. Unlike many thin-cut pieces from earlier periods, the two sides here are exactly parallel and even. This suggests some further advances in the saws used to cut the raw stone. There are two areas of significant staining and alteration of the stone and some suggestions of veining or flaws. The overall surface is mottled with areas of white.

1. Shang Zhitan, "Mawangdui yihao Han mu 'feiyi'shishi" (An Interpretation of the "feiyi" [painting] from the Han Tomb no. T at Mawangdui), pi. i.
i. See, for example, IA, CASS, Mancheng @lan "in faiue baogao (Report on the Excavation of the Han Tot,ib at Mancheng), pi. ties (lower plate).
1. Yang, no 198
2. Watt, no. 25b
3. Loehr, plate 537
4. Dohrenwend, p. 86
5. Kaogu Xue Jikan, 1982, no. 2, plate 16, no. 6


More Information

Exhibition History: "Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998
Label:

Ritual and burial objects of some scale began to appear in increasing numbers during of the Warring States period and on into the Western Han. Most common among these was the bi. The reasons for this increase at least in part can be attributed to a combination of economic factors, greater access to material from Hetian (Khotan), and changes in funerary practices.

Funerary paintings of the Western Han period depict the bi as part of an ensemble tied together with cords. Bi are shown on the two painted silk banners from tombs number I and III at Mawangdui, Changsha, with two dragons entwined through the central opening and with a triangular ornament suspended from the bi by a cord with tassels. A bi in the Seattle Art Museum similar to the example under discussion actually has discolored areas showing where such cords would have passed through it. It is thought that these ensembles were placed on top of coffins and played an important role in Han funerary practices.

The hexagonal pattern, known as the rush or matting pattern in Chinese literature, is commonly found on jade bi of the Western Han period. It is created by a series of lines cut at angles. The first stages of creating the "sprouting grain" pattern may have been identical; thus this decoration is a simplified version of a more complex and time consuming earlier pattern. This again may suggest a change in attitude toward the objects created from jade and may also suggest that theywere intended only for burial.

This piece is quite thin and is cut from a piece of yellowish Khotan jade. Unlike many thin-cut pieces from earlier periods, the two sides here are exactly parallel and even. This suggests some further advances in the saws used to cut the raw stone. There are two areas of significant staining and alteration of the stone and some suggestions of veining or flaws. The overall surface is mottled with areas of white.

1. Shang Zhitan, "Mawangdui yihao Han mu 'feiyi'shishi" (An Interpretation of the "feiyi" [painting] from the Han Tomb no. T at Mawangdui), pi. i.
i. See, for example, IA, CASS, Mancheng @lan "in faiue baogao (Report on the Excavation of the Han Tot,ib at Mancheng), pi. ties (lower plate).
1. Yang, no 198
2. Watt, no. 25b
3. Loehr, plate 537
4. Dohrenwend, p. 86
5. Kaogu Xue Jikan, 1982, no. 2, plate 16, no. 6


Exhibition History: "Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998