Obelisk Art History

Heavy Jade Cong 琮

Heavy Jade Cong 琮, Neolithic
Heavy Jade Cong 琮, zoomed in
16.6 cmHeavy Jade Cong 琮 scale comparison8 cm
See Heavy Jade Cong 琮 in the Kaleidoscope

Heavy Jade Cong 琮 is a Neolithic Jade Artifact created between 3300 BCE and 2000 BCE. It lives at the Harvard Art Museums in the United States. The image is in the Public Domain, and tagged Artifact. SourceDownload

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Jade cong are among the most enimatic Neolithic artefacts. Cong are found ringed around bodies found in China’s Liangzhu grave sites. No language remains from the Liangzhu culture, so we don't know what meaning the cong had — but if you look closely, each outer edge is inscribed with rows of stylized faces.

Cong were extrordinary to difficult to create, since Jade cannot be split and had to be sanded to a smooth flat surface. This cong follows a common pattern, being hexagonal, with a round hollow core, with a slight taper from top to bottom. We don't know what cong, and their sister artefacts, bi, were used for — but their use in burials and their apparent lack of function imply a ritual use among China’s neolithic people.

Reed Enger, "Heavy Jade Cong 琮," in Obelisk Art History, Published October 25, 2016; last modified May 19, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/timeline/prehistory/neolithic/heavy-jade-cong/.

Further reading atharvardartmuseums.org
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