Description: Jade. China, Neolithic period, c.3500-3000 BC
This large and impressive ornament with slightly raised and curved ends falls within the category of the so-called huang or arc-shaped pendants. It is carved from a thin slab of pale green, translucent jade and its thinness allows the light to filter through it, except for the extremities: here, the concentration of iron and other inclusions makes the jade opaque and modifies the colour of the stone to a deeper green and brown. The contrast between the darker ends and the central, translucent body of the huang seems to have been deliberately sought by the Neolithic artisan, who incorporated in the final object and in a balanced manner the various nuances of colour of the raw material. The white patches which dot the entire body of the jade are due to natural modifications of the stone, occurred while the object was buried in the ground. Each end has a perforation to suspend the ornament: the holes have been drilled from both sides of the jade and are slightly slanted.
Huang pendants carved in jade appear for the first time in conspicuous numbers in the finds of the Neolithic cultures of South China, namely Beiyinyangying (near present-day Nanjing, c.4000-3000 BC), Majiabang and Songze cultures (c.4000-3300 BC). Huang produced by the Beiyinyangying culture are slender, with a rather thick body and a strongly emphasized arched form: those of the Majiabang and Songze cultures are carved instead from thin slices of jades, the bottom is often flattened while the slightly raised extremities suggest the curvature of the ornament. Another feature of Majiabang and Songze huang are the holes for suspension, which are usually carved from both sides of the jade and have a slanted outline, as in the pendant presented here.
This jade can be compared to a huang from the Joseph Hotung collection which is almost exactly half in size (12.2x2.4 cm), carved from a similar pale, translucent green jade with brown markings at the curved extremities: it is published in J. Rawson, Chinese jade, from the Neolithic to the Qing, London 1995, no.5:13.
Two further comparable huang of similar shape, part of the Robert H. Ellsworth (1929-2014) collection, were auctioned at Christie's New York on 19 March 2015, Sale 11420, Lot 527 (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/two-opaque-jade-handle-shaped-pendants-huang-southeast-5876584-details.aspx?from=salesummery&intObjectID=5876584&sid=57355e3a-1ea9-4a96-81a9-8feba9d64467).
玉璜 - 新石器时代, 公元前3500-3000
宽 25.1 厘米 - 高 5.7 厘米
WIDTH 25.1 CM - HEIGHT 5.7 CM
From a German 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.