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Jades

Ts'ung
Liang-chu Culture, late Neolithic age (ca. 3300-2000 BC)
Height: 15.7 cm, width: 7 cm, depth: 7 cm

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The Liang-chu Culture developed around the drainage basin of Lake T'ai in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River around 4000 to 5000 years ago, and the jade ''ts'ung'' was an important ritual implement used by the people of this culture in the worship of their gods and ancestors. ''Ts'ung'' were basically square cylindrical objects with a hole bored through the center, running from top to bottom. The external surface was composed of carved ''mask motifs'', one on top of the other, centered around the four corners of each level. This ''ts'ung'', carved from a piece of jade of deep and light earthy hues, is a classic example from the late Liang-chu period. It has six levels, the corners of which are decorated with a carved mask motif with small eyes. Each of the 24 masks has parallel lines representing a feathered headdress worn by an ancestor or god. The eyes are concentric circles with dashes forming the corners of the eyes, and two single lines perpendicular to a short horizontal oval form the nose. Due to the age of this piece, these carved markings are no longer very distinct.

Text: Teng Shu-p'ing
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