Description: Jade. China, Late Neolithic period, Qijia culture, c.2200-1900 BC
Plain cong like this and the following one were carved in jade by the late Neolithic cultures which flourished in north-west China, and especially the Qijia culture: though based on similar artefacts created by the Liangzhu culture (c.3300-2200 BC), these later cong are always plain and lack the stylized masks carved at the corners of Liangzhu culture cong.
This cong is carved in a variety of richly textured jade with many and extensive inclusions of iron which create various patches and shades of brown colour. Due to the composite nature of the stone, each side of the cong is slightly different in colour and texture from the others. For example, on one side the jade is mostly pale green and semi-translucent, while on the opposite one many short, black striations evoke the fur of an animal. There are a few natural fissures in the jade where the stone has turned whitish in colour. The two round collars projecting from each side of the cong are slightly tapering inwards, their borders softened. The sides are finely polished while the inner wall of the cylindrical perforation has not been smoothed: hence, the tool marks left by the tubular drill used to hollow the jade are still clearly visible.
A comparable cong of the same width and slightly higher (7.5 cm), carved from pale green translucent jade and in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, is reproduced in M. Loehr and L. G. Fitzgerald Huber, Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, 1975, no.406. (object number 1943.50.508, image at http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/collections/object/204869?position=0)
Another cong of similar size, carved from dark olive-green and brown jade and from the Robert H. Ellsworth (1929-2014) collection, was auctioned at Christie's New York on 19 March 2015, Sale 11420, Lot 557:
玉琮 - 新石器時代晚期，齊家文化, 公元前2200-1900
宽 7 - 高6.5 厘米 - 孔径 6.2 厘米
WIDTH 7 CM - HEIGTH 6.5 CM - DIAMETER OF PERFORATION 6.2 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.