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Jades

Ts'ung Tube
Liang-chu Culture, late Neolithic age (ca. 3300-2000 BC)
Height: 47.2 cm, upper width: 7.7-7.8 cm, lower width: 6.8 cm, hole diameter: 4.2-4.3 cm, weight: 5850 g

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This large jade ts'ung tube probably entered the Ch'ing court in the 19th century, which is why its surface was not adorned with imperial inscriptions of praise by the Ch'ien-lung Emperor (r. 1736-1795) and thereby retains its original appearance. It is carved from a piece of deep green nephrite with light and dark ochre spotting. The surface still reveals the arcing traces of depressions lefty when the jade was first cut. Of a tall, square, columnar form, the top is slightly larger than the bottom. The hole in the center was drilled from both ends, there being a slightly uneven ledge where the two did not match up. The upper hole is slightly flaring, while the wall of the lower is straighter. With patterns of small eyes as the center of the four corners, extending from top to bottom is a total of 17 small-eye masks carved on the piece. By the late Liang-chu Culture, few Liang-chu jade ts'ung like the other one here were being carved with combination patterns of small- and large-eye masks. Sometimes on the mouth area of such tall ts'ung are very faint and broken lines, representing the engravings of some mysterious symbol. The mouth of this jade ts'ung also includes this symbol. Among them is a slight diamond shape depression besides each line. Opposite the sides is an engraving of a standing column with the top larger than the bottom, which continues with five small circles. Their meaning is probably related to the "spirit bird" beliefs current at the time.

Text: Teng Shu-p'ing
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