Lot 28: JADE RING DECORATED WITH THE 'TWISTED ROPE' PATTERN
December 3, 2016
Vienna, Vienna, AustriaLive Auction
Jade. China, Eastern Zhou, 4th - 3rd century BC
This ornamental ring is decorated with a pattern known as 'twisted cord' motif, consisting in regular grooves carved on the body of the ornament and as if they radiate from the empty centre. The name of this peculiar pattern is due to the fact that the motif looks as if a rope or a bunch of 'silk threads', as it is called in Chinese, has been wrapped around a ring.
These ornaments were used as components of pendants, suspended together with other jades fastened through ropes or bundles of silk. Two lacquer-painted wooden figurines wearing pendants that include also jade rings with the twisted rope pattern have been excavated from a 4th century BC tomb of the Chu culture at Xinyang, Henan province.
This particular motif and how it was made with such precision on jades of the 6th to 2nd century BC, was the subject of a scientific research conducted by Peter J. Lu in his article, "Early precision compound machine from ancient China" (Science 304, 2004): in his paper, Liu argues that the "twisted rope pattern" follows a precise mathematical form described by the spiral of Archimedes. Such an accurate drafting of the pattern would have required a precision compound machine at such an early date: the author proposes a basic mechanical design which is based only upon technologies known to have existed at that time. (link to the article: http://www.peterlu.org/content/early-precision-compound-machines).
Similar rings are in the National Museum of China, Beijing (diam. 7.5 cm); in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, The Avery Brundage collection (6.7 cm in diameter, object number B60J824); in the Freer/Sackler galleries, Washington, D.C. (accession number: F1939.10, diameter 7 cm); and in the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop (object number 1943.50.612, diameter 7.5 cm). Images of comparative jades can be seen at the following links:
绞丝纹玉环 -战国, 公元前4世纪-前3世纪;
DIAMETER 8.4 CM
From a German collection
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".
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.