Jade Cong, 2500 BC
49.5 cm (height)
Zhejiang Province, China


This tall jade cong was made by the Neolithic Liangzhu culture, which existed in China from around 3300 – 2200 BC in the region of the Yangtze River Delta. Though it was a pre-literate period, archaeological finds from systematic excavations have shown that the Liangzhu society was highly hierarchical and advanced in many crafts, among which jade and ceramics were paramount.
This particular cong is one of the tallest of its kind and can be compared with the thirty-two cong found displayed in M3, a Liangzhu culture tomb, at present-day Sidun, Jiangsu. Cong, essentially square tubes pierced with a central circular hole, are generally buried in large numbers, and are often found aligning the body in the tomb.
Though their exact function is unknown, their importance can be determined by the time and effort it took to make them. Using an abrasive sand to grind down the surface, craftsmen typically spent several months decorating the corners of cong with faces, indicated by circles and parallel bars.


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