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HOME : Chinese Art : Neolithic Era : Stone Statue in the Form of a Seated Figure
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Stone Statue in the Form of a Seated Figure - PH.0215
Origin: China
Circa: 4700 BC to 2900 BC

Collection: Chinese Art
Style: Hongshan Culture
Medium: Stone

Location: Great Britain
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Many thousands of years ago, our earliest ancestors were nomadic tribes that survived by foraging the wild for food and shelter. During the Neolithic era, human groups first began to settle down permanently, establishing villages and communities. However, without new technological innovations, this sedentary culture would not have been possible. Foremost among these discoveries were agriculture and tool- making, both of which enabled humans to transform their natural environment into a sustainable society. Many thousands of years ago, the area presently covered by modern China was made up of distinct regions each with their own unique cultural identity. Archaeologists have been able to discern some of these cultures from each other based upon the burial styles, architecture, and pottery, perhaps the most immediate remnant of this age.

The Hongshan culture, a representative of the Neolithic Age, some 5000 to 6000 years ago, wss the prehistoric culture of far northeastern China. Hongshan sites in Chifeng, have been found in an area stretching from Inner Mongolia to Liaoning, and dated from about 4700 BC to 2900 BC. The period of the Hongshan culture was an important stage of early Chinese civilization. It saw relatively developed religious activities and jade ware during this period featured art dominated by animals including dragons, birds and cicadas, made by carving in the round, which were used in religious rituals. The jade and stone artifacts of the Hongshan culture played crucial role in the progress of Chinese civilization. These early jade and stone carvings were typical as ceremonial burial and ritual pieces.

The workmanship of Hongshan jade and stone artifacts are simple but fine. The edges of pieces are often polished into blades. This technically-skilled stone carving of a figure is a beautiful example of the Hongshan culture. While the identification of the zoomorphic figure remains a mystery, it almost resembles a crouching mammal with human features. With ears and headdress perked upwards, a large bulbous head dwarfs the body below. Shoulders protrude from about cheek- height and arms wrap around the mammal’s knees, creating two rounded holes. The mammal’s knees are bent upwards to the chest and the feet, distinguished by subtle ridges, are pressed together. Some scholars argue that this stone human figure in sitting posture with hands on his knees depicted the Sun-god. Although this artifact may have once served a practical purpose, perhaps in votive offering or memorial, today it is appreciated as a gorgeous work of art, treasured for both its beauty and history alike.

(Reference : Roger Keverne. Jade. Springer, 1991; Li Li. China's Cultural Relics. Cambridge University Press, 2011; Ming Yu. Chinese Jade. Cambridge University Press, 2011.) -MK
- (PH.0215)


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