|Seven to eight
thousand years ago, the Hsing-lung-wa Culture was
distributed north of the Yen Mountains and west
of the Liao River. The inhabitants there apparently
enjoyed wearing earrings and made tools and goddess
statuettes of jade and stone.
Five to six thousand years ago, the Hung-shan
Culture reached new heights. In addition to constructing
temples to a giant, painted goddess, they also
built round sacrificial altars and square tombs.
They carved animals from pieces of jade. Some
of these were animals in the fetal position, others
were birds with hooked beaks and beasts with fangs,
and some had mesmerizing vortex eyes. This unusual
blend of human, bird, and beast features in a
single carving may imply that ancient shamans
used the essence of jade and spirits of animals
to pray to divine ancestors for protection.