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Lv 7
Kevin7 asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

What are Bi jade discs from Neolithic Chinese culture?

3 Answers

  • connie
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Ancient Chinese Jade "Bi Discs" were flat round pieces in the shape of a disc with a central hole. They were used as ritual implements in sacrificial ceremonies. In the earliest dynasties (Liangzhu to Xia), it was originally used as a ritual vessel to offer sacrifices to the god(s) of the heavens, but gradually lost it's ritual function in later dynasties. It became more decorative with finely incised designs on the disk in the Han and later periods.

    The function and meaning of these mysterious discs are unknown. Jade was believed to confer immortality, and they are often found laid on or next to bodies in ancient Chinese burials. The earliest jade Bi discs appeared in the Hongshan Culture in west Liaoning province. In the Taihu Lake area, however, it was excavated in a Songze tomb at the Fuquanshan Site, Shanghai. Due to close connections between Shanghai and areas of north China in ancient times, a Dawenkou painted pottery flask was also found in a major Liangzhu tomb at the Fuquanshan Site. Would it be possible that jade Bi was originally a imported object since Fuquanshan was a port at that time?

    The bi (Chinese: 璧; pinyin: bì; Wade–Giles: pi) is a form of circular jade artifact from ancient China. The earliest bi were produced in the Neolithic period, particularly by the Liangzhu culture (3400-2250 BC). Later examples date mainly from the Shang, Zhou and Han dynasties. They were also made in glass. A bi is a flat jade disc with a circular hole in the centre. Neolithic bi are undecorated, while those of later periods of China, like the Zhou dynasty, bear increasingly ornate surface carving (particularly in a hexagonal pattern) whose motifs represented deities associated with the sky (four directions) as well as standing for qualities and powers the wearer wanted to invoke or embody.

    Later traditions associate the bi with heaven, and the cong with the earth. Bi disks are consistently found with heaven and earth-like imagery, suggesting that the disk's circular shape also bears symbolic significance as this description explains:

    It is found that these objects testify to early stages of development of cosmological concepts that remained important in Chinese culture during the Warring States and Han periods: the notion of a covering sky (gaitian) that revolves around a central axis, the cycle of the Ten Suns, and the use of an early form of the carpenter's square. These objects were handled by shamans who were the religious leaders of Liangzhu society and the transmitters of cosmological knowledge.

    The original function and significance of the bi are unknown, as the Neolithic cultures have left no written history. From these earliest times they were buried with the dead, as a sky symbol, accompanying the dead into the after world or "sky", with the cong which connected the body with the earth. They were placed ceremonially on the body in the grave of persons of high social status. Bi are sometimes found near the stomach and chest in neolithic burials.

    Bi disks are the most numerous kind of monochrome glass objects. Bi disks are, as the word implies, round and flat objects with a small hole in the middle. According to historical sources bi disks were ritual artifacts used between the 16th century BC and 3rd century AD. However, archaeologically, the use of bi disk extends to the late Neolithic period. During the 3rd millennium jade bi disks were an important part of elite burials. This situation did not change much until the middle of the Zhou period, when they became more prominent.

    During the Chu kingdom, in the Warring States period, glass bi disks became more abundant. Bi disks from this period tend to be between 7.9 and 9.4 cm in diameter. They have simple decorations, mainly the grain or cloud pattern typical of jade objects. This decoration tends to only be placed on one side of the disk. These types of disk tend to be found on the head, or near the head, of the deceased. They are mainly found in medium to small-sized tombs, indicating that they were used by the middle strata of society. This suggests that glass bi disks were regarded cheaper alternatives to jade bi disks.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

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    What are Bi jade discs from Neolithic Chinese culture?

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  • 5 years ago

    Jade Disc

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