Lot 20: PAIR OF COLLARED YUAN RINGS
December 3, 2016
Vienna, Vienna, AustriaLive Auction
Jade. China, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1200 BC
The two collared rings in the first picture bear resemblance with those excavated at Sanxingdui, Guanghan, Sichuan province.
Collared rings form a particularly category attested in the jade repertory of ancient China mostly during the late Shang period. Several examples have been unearthed in the tombs of Fu Hao, at Anyang, Henan province (c. 1200 BC), in the Shang period sites of Dayangzhou, Xing'an, Jiangxi province and Sanxingdui, Guanghan, Sichuan, and additional sites in Henan and Hunan provinces. It is however possible that these peculiar ornaments were created in the southern regions and then imported to the metropolitan centres of Shang China: their 'foreign' origin may explain why these collared rings disappeared from the jade repertory of shapes with the demise of the Shang dynasty. It is not clear how these ornaments were used, though there is evidence that they, at least in some areas, were used as bracelets: S. Howard Hansford, Chinese carved jades, London 1968, plate 9a, has the picture of a burial excavated in 1953 at Gua Cha, Kelantan, Malaya, with the skeleton wearing on the forearm one collared ring. However, since the central opening is rather small, usually in the average of 5 to 7 cm, such rings were probably inserted on the wrist when the individual was at an infant age, so that the person grew with this ornament on the arm. It is also possible that these ornaments were fashioned in other materials, such as clay or shell, and that jade became the standard medium in the late Shang period. The vast majority of known collared rings belong in fact to this period. They also usually come in two types: plain, as those presented in these lots, and with tiny grooves incised on the surface of the ring. Sometimes, as in examples from Shang tombs, their dimensions are larger so that they look like collared discs.
Several collared rings of different sizes and shapes found in the tomb of Fu Hao (d. circa 1200 B.C.), are illustrated in Yinxu Fu Hao mu 殷墟妇好墓 (Tomb of Lady Hao at Yinxu in Anyang), Beijing, 1980, pls. 87-94.
For an example of collared ring excavated further south, in Yunnan province, from tomb M18 of the Jiangchuan Lijiashan site, see picture at:
At this page a considerable number of images of collared rings excavated from various sites and of different periods:
一雙有领玉瑗 - 商代晚期, 公元前 1200
直径 9.1 - 8 厘米; 高 1.3 - 1.1 厘米; 孔径 5.2 - 5.5 厘米
DIAMETER 9.1 AND 8 CM - HEIGHT: 1.3 AND 1.1 CM - HOLE 5.2 AND 5.5 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.