Sanxingdui Culture (1600 BCE -221 BCE ) Jade

In 1929, more than four hundred pieces jade artifacts were found by a farmer called Yann Dao Chun in the Kwanhan City in Szechwan Province in China. Since then, excavations have continued by local archaeologists and the mystery of the Ancient Sze Kingdom has started to attract the curious minds worldwide. In 1986, several thousand pieces of gold, bronze, jade artifacts, ivories have been unearthed in Sanxindui by local archeologists. The mystery of the Sanxingdui Culture has invited many conjectures. Some source claimed that Sanxingdui culture was the culture of Emperor Zen in 3000 BCE. Some sources believed that it covered the period of the Dynasties of Xia, Shang, and Western Zhou to Warring States.wkgbzfrqryyautvraaplm1x-244332

Most jade artifacts from the Sanxingdui Culture are made of nephrite and are extraordinarily and elaborately carved. The variety of jade artifacts is rich. In addition to individual ritual jades such as jade congs, zhangs, kweis, there are many jade heads with protrude eyes and wide ears. In particular, there are jade priests holding ritual jades of bi, cong, kwei and huang. There are also jade knights holding sword standing on the jade cong decorated with open work style jade elephant heads. The shapes of ritual jades are identical as those of the Shang Dynasties through Warring States. Researches wonder whether the Sanxingdui Culture has influence on those of the Shang Dynasty or the ritual jades of Shang Dynasty has influence on the Sanxingdui jades. The Sanxingdui jade artifacts of priests and knights with displayed prominent pupils and wide ears have invite lots of 65399-btexplanations without any consensus.  Some jade heads even have rectangular cubic gadget similar to the antenna of flying objects. No wonder that many people believed that they are related to other cultures not originated in China, even some people claimed that they are from an extraterrestrial civilization. Some Sanxingdui Culture jade such as jade heads has scripts of which the meanings are unknown yet. The meanings of those scripts will absolutely help to explore the mystery of Sanxingdui Culture. As far as the ivories are concerned, researches have put an effort to find out where were these ivories from. Some claimed that these were the trade items from Southeast Asia states in ancient time. However, from the jade figurine that has the elephant cong suggested that the elephants were local.  In a nutshell, many mysteries of the Sanxingdui Culture need the clues from the artifacts to explore.

Sanxingdui Culture Jade Priest, 三星堆玉祭司H.20cm


Based on the carving style, this gray tone jade priest is identified as a Sanxingdui Culture artifact. The hands are seen the posture as the bronze priest unearthed from the number 2 praying pit in Quanghai Sanxingdui, a collection of Sanxingdui Museum.The priest is standing on the square cube with four sides with the motif of connected sprouts having a style of Warring States. The bottom of the base has ancient Chinese scripts of 令出止奔 ( upon seeing the order, stop marching) . Antiquity evidences include additive crystal, cleaving vein, dissolved pits and differential weathering.本件玉祭司與已出土三星堆文化銅人雷DSCN3246同. 雙手也是呈半握拳式, 有些文獻認為三星堆文化此類人物造型, 雙手似乎托著某種器物. 但是雙手半握拳中空部分的角度並不同, 除非每手各持一物, 否則雙手的握姿與持著同一物體的表現不一致.如果從宗教的角度來思考, 也許是可以解釋的. 古今中外各種宗教, 在進行儀式時, 經常是借重于手勢來傳達某些特定意義的. 最明顯的例子是佛教密宗的結手印, 雙手與手指配合的姿勢, 都有特殊的涵義, 其次, 一般的玉器形制, 大都將所持之物直接刻上. 本器系祭司造型, 從宗教的角度來解釋雙手呈半握拳式,應該是合理的.  本器之玉質為灰白色閃玉, 與本網站三星堆文化鎮國將軍及商玉龍魚之玉質相同. 祭司服飾上系以遊絲式雕琢雷紋 (或稱回紋,象徵氣流之迴圈)(出現單線及雙線兩種刀工), 祭司站立之底座四面為戰國時代流行的勾連雲紋, 座底為小篆銘文 (令出止奔). 本器有明顯的差異風化, 增生晶體, 溶蝕孔與冰裂紋等古玉跡象. SanxingduipriestCarving11Script: 令出止奔( Stop marching after the order )

Appraisal Indexes:

  1. quality of jade: 7
  2. rareness: 8
  3. historical and cultural significance: 7
  4. workmanship: 8
  5. size: 3
  6. condition: 10

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Sanxingdui Culture Priests, 三星堆文化祭司獻瑞 H.45cms


Jade  Statues Set with Priests Holding Bi, Cong, Huang & Kuei, H.45cms

This is the set of four pieces. Each one is composed with five separate pieces which are the priest’s body above from the legs, the two legs, the stand with backward angle, the  phoenix headstand with four faces, and the open work base. The exaggerate presentation of protruding eyes of the priest and the phoenix had the stick design to imply the powerful eyesight. The big butterfly wind style ears of the priest may have the implication of powerful hearing. The dress, the carving style of thin incised line with cloud motifs, the slant carving of thunder and the open work with a rope motif all confirm the typical art genre of the Warring States.  Made of white Hetian nephrite with additive crystal, dissolved pits,differential weathering and diffusive markings, coupled with historical significance, cultural importance, artistic implication and mastery workmanship( please be noted that the multiple contours and the detail of curvature shown in the design of the shoulder has explained the mastery workmanship which modern copy would never know. In addition, beautiful contour surface of the phoenix on the base also explained it all), this set of jade priests is believed to be the definitive, topknot collection of the Sanxingdui Culture jade artifacts. Appraisal Indexes: 1. quality of jade: 9 2. rareness: 10 3. historical and cultural significance: 10 4. workmanship: 10 5. size:10 6. condition: 9本组玉祭司共计四件: 分别为持玉璧祭司, 持玉琮祭司, 持玉圭祭司, 持玉璜祭司. 各件均通高45cm, 系由下列五个部份黏合而成: 祭司腿部以上, 双脚, 内角方座, 四面凤首座, 镂空底座. 各件玉祭司均由和田白玉雕成, 祭司的眼睛及凤眼神系为圆柱造型, 可能表示千里眼; 祭司的大型蝶式耳朵可能表示顺风耳. 祭司的头冠, 服饰, 游丝勾卷云纹, 内角方座的斜刀雷纹, 镂空底座的绹纹都是典型的战国纹饰古玉跡象有擴散暈沁色,差異风化及斑晶等古玉现象.  本组玉祭司刀工流畅严谨, 玉质精美,实乃三星堆文化玉器中之极品.