Description: Jade. China, Hongshan culture, c.3500-3000 BC Pendants shaped as birds form one of the principal categories of Hongshan jades and have been discovered in the tombs of important sites in the provinces of Lioning and Inner Mongolia. These birds are represented in a standard form though they exhibit at the same time small variations that differentiate them one from the other, so that each individual carving has no identical counterpart. The birds are portrayed with outstretched wings embellished with fine grooves, framing a short tail which extends at the bottom. The head is small, as if recessed between the wings, and is provided with a beak and bulging eyes: these may be either round, as in the present example, or elongated and almond-shaped. The back is always plain and undecorated, but pierced with a loop-hole drilled behind the head in order to suspend the ornament on a cord. Their features suggest that these small carvings represent birds of prey like eagles, hawks or owls. The type of jade used for this carving has many inclusions, so that two-third of the stone looks brown and creamy white in colour, dotted with black speckles: the jade retains the original green colour and translucency only along the edge of one of the wings. The stone is thoroughly polished and smooth to the touch but, due to the material used, does not have the shiny finish so often seen on this type of carvings. In many areas the surface is covered by tiny scratches, visible to the naked eye and left by the abrasives used to polish the jade. Two comparable examples from excavations include a bird from a site near the city of Fuxin, in the collections of the Institute of archaeology and cultural relics of Liaoning province; and a second carving discovered at the Narixintai site, Right Bairin Banner, now in the Museum of Chifeng city, Inner Mongolia. Both are reproduced in Zhang Shuwei 張樹偉 and Li Xiangdong 李向東 (eds.), Shikong chuanyue: Hongshan wenhua chutu yuqi jing pin zhan 時空穿越:红山文化玉器精品展 (Through Time and Space: Unearthed Jade Articles of the Hongshan Culture), Beijing 2012, pp.43-45. 鸟形玉佩 - 红山文化, 公元前3500-3000 宽 7 厘米 - 高 5 厘米 WIDTH 7 CM - HEIGHT 5 CM From an Italian collection
Notes: All jades in this catalogue will soon be published in the forthcoming jade book by FILIPPO SALVIATI: "THE MYSTERIOUS STONE - Archaic and Antique Chinese Jades from Neolithic to Han from Private Collections".
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Professor Salviati teaches Chinese Art at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome, Faculty of Oriental Studies, and is one of the world's most recognized jade experts, specialized in archaic jades until the Song Dynasty. Hi-resolution pictures of all jades are to be found in our web-site, and can be enlarged so that handwork, age-related traces of weathering, as well as colors are very well recognizable.