AN IMPRESSIVE AND HIGHLY POLISHED "PIG-DRAGON" OR ZHULONG
Jade, China. Late Neolithic period, Hongshan culture, c.3500-2500 BC 玉猪龍 - 新石器時代晚期, 紅山文化, 約公元前3500-2500年
This rather large Hongshan carving of a zhulong or “pig-dragon” is remarkable for its size and the almost glassy finish of the highly polished surface. The jade, very smooth to the touch, is light green with some mottled brown and white areas and occasional red spots. The facial features of the mythical creature, especially the eyes and the corrugated snout, are delicately rendered and not strongly emphasized: however, this does not diminish the impression of strength that emanates from the carving. The suspension hole and the central perforation have been drilled from both sides and smoothed down. One interesting feature of this powerful coiled dragon is the “tail”, or end of the body, which is slanted and not rendered, as in most of the known examples, with a simple, straight cut in the jade.
This last feature is also seen on the closest comparable example found in controlled excavations: a coiled dragon measuring 10.3 cm in height and 7.8 in width that was discovered in one of the tombs at Niuheliang, a Hongshan ceremonial centre located at Jianping county, Liaoning province. The jade, now in the Liaoning Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics, is reproduced in Zhang Shuwei and Li Xiangdong (eds.), Shikong chuanyue: Hongshan wenhua chutu yuqi jing pin zhan 時空穿越: 紅山文化出土玉器精品展 (Through time and space: Unearthed jade articles of the Hongshan Culture), Beijing 2012, front cover and page no.21.
HEIGHT 10.9 CM – WIDTH 7 CM 高10.9 厘米 - 寬 7 厘米
From an Austrian collection
All jades in this catalogue have been professionally examined, authenticated and described by Prof. Filippo Salviati. Professor Salviati teaches Chinese and Korean art at Sapienza University in Rome, in the Italian Institute of Oriental Studies. He is a world expert on archaic Chinese jades, having released multiple publications and being cited by renowned auction houses such as Sotheby’s. The microscopic images made available here, show that the weathering of the jade has occurred over a long period of time. Furthermore in the magnification one can reconstruct the workings of the jade. The two aforementioned criteria are exactly what counts in the authentication of archaic jades – the difficult and elaborate workmanship by hand and the subsequent weathering of the jade over centuries. The microscopic enlargements show how the patterns were ground out in many small steps, sometimes over months, and that the weathering actually occurs above the carvings, meaning it occurred after the jade was completed.