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My Trip to Liangzhou Culture Museum

An expert stated that: “the earliest fundamental difference between western and eastern culture lies in the presence of a highly-developed Neolithic jade culture.”

Cannot resist the temptation of Jade culture of Liangzhu, on Nov 17, 2013, I visited Liangzhu Culture Museum (良渚文化博物馆)18km off downtown Hangzhou. This arduous trip took me 3 hours to and fro in the road, but turned out to be the most rewarding.
 
                                                                                Click to see photos of Liangzhu Culture Museum
 
 liangzhu culture museum
Bus 732 leads to Liangzhu Culture Museum
 


I spent around 2.5 hours inside this museum, spellbound by its huge collection of jade artifacts, pottery, maps, models, videos and vivid restored scenes.

What impressed me most were thousands of jadeware, pottery utensils as well as the ancient Liangzhu Kingdom, the biggest and most ancient hailing from the Neolithic Age. Its multitude of jadeware artifacts, which are multi-functional and highly symbolic, mainly split into three forms: Jade Cong( a piece of square jade with a round center hole), Jade Bi (a piece of flat jade with small center hole) and Jade Broadaxes.
 
liangzhu culture museum
 The museum is composed of four bar-formed volumes made of Iranian travertine stone, equal in 18m width but differing in height.


According to our guide, there are over 160 jade mines distributed in over 20 countries across the world, however, it is in a town named Liangzhu in the lower reach of the Yangtze River that it flourished into a continuous and peerless jadeware culture. Black Pottery and Jadeware stand for Liangzhu Culture. In addition, among all the artifacts made of all materials, nothing exerted such a profound and lasting influence on Chinese civilization and spiritual world as jadeware.


Interesting Things of Liangzhu Culture Museum


(1)Lacking of cutting edge technology, Liangzhu tribal artisans used the tooth of sharks to cave jadeware. It took 50 hours to cut a depth of 2 centimeters.

(2)The majority of daily utensils such as jars, pots, wine vessels and bowls displayed here are authentic. Some of the handicapped ones are repaired by white clays, which form white scars. These white scars are the traces of amendment job done by archaeologists.
 
 
liangzhu culture museum
Black pottery and jade represent Liangzhu Culture. The majority of displays here are authentic.
 


(3) Some jade ornaments are only used by noble men, some are used mainly by noble women, while some are bisexual.

(4)One key factor differentiates the tombs of kings, nobles from that of the commoners is the presence of the jadeware.

(5)Jadeware is used for tools and ornaments as first. Gradually, they are bestowed with social and spiritual association. As the most expensive and beautiful stones, jadeware artworks including Jade Cong, weeding tools, sickles, belt hooks, weaving tools and weaving wheels are used during rituals.


Puzzle Over the Ancient Liangzhu Kingdom



From the giant models, maps and illustrations, I can marvel at the restored Liangzhu Kingdom existed over 5,000 years ago. This kingdom is considered the most ancient and biggest hailing from the Neolithic age. It is 3 times larger than the Forbidden City today.

With Mojiaoshan Imperial Palace as its centerpiece, the Ancient Liangzhu Kingdom is surrounded by altars, moats, royal mausoleums and over 20 satellite kingdoms dispersed along the whole lower reach of Yangtze River Basin.

Our guide told us over 11 royal mausoleums were discovered in Fanshan Mountain. A number of 1,226(sets of) artifacts were unearthed. There are a dazzling array of Jade Cong, Jade Bi and Jade Broadaxes. In terms of diversity, quality and decoration, they are unparalleled. In the Preclude Hall, we saw the layout of these 11 tombs. Tomb 22, the most luxury one, belongs to a king.
 
liangzhu culture museum liangzhu ancient kingdom
 
 
 
 
 

Demystify the Legend of Liangzhu Jadeware

 


Liangzhu Jadeware falls into religious, articles, status-symbolizing ornaments, ritual articles and common daily ornaments. Our guide told us some ornaments are for both genders, while some are reserved for male or female. In this museum, I also saw two illustrations depicting how ancient Liangzhu people spread specific jadeware in specific parts within the coffins.
 


Unravel the Glamour of Jade Cong



Jade Cong, the most distinguished variety of Liangzhu ritual jade articles, evolves from the ornamental bracelets. Representing ultimate social status and sacredness, they are exclusively used by the priests to communicate between heaven and earth, as well as worship deities and spirits. Its center hole represents the channel between heaven and earth, testifying the concept of primitive witchcraft.

Unexceptionally, they bear the motif of Divine Emblem. Disputes on its myriad functions and symbolic meanings remain unsettled yet, and there prevail at least 20 kinds of saying.
 
 
liangzhu culture museum liangzhu ancient kingdom
 “To run a state, a king needs to control war and sacrifice.” Religious and military power remain the core of reign in the ancient Liangzhu kingdom. In the ancient Liangzhu Kingdom, the king is the priest meanwhile. The owner of Jade Cong (a piece of square jade with a round hole), Jade Bi(a piece of flat round Jade with small hole in the center), Jade Broadax is either an aristocrat or a king.
liangzhu culture museum jadeware
Ritual articles made of jade symbolize power, social status, religions ideas. The fact that they are found around the Taihu Lake and an even broader region indicates the existence of one or several pyramid-structured societies or states sharing the same ancestry, alliance, ritual system and ideology.
 
 


Bewitched by the Divine Emblem

 


The Divine Emblem, also known as the Half God & Half Animal Mask Motif, prevails among jadeware from the middle to the late stage of Liangzhu Culture. It is only found in artifacts buried in emperors and aristocrats’ tombs. Strolling along the dark hall featuring this motif, I was bewitched.

A 6.5kg Cong unearthed in Fanshan Mausoleum is famed as “The King of Jade”. It is characterized by the mysterious emblem with a weird combination of deity and beast appearing on four sides. Want to unravel the symbolic meaning of the emblem? Why not discover by yourself.
 
 
 
 
liangzhu culture museum divine emblem
You can see a movie about a 14-year-old boy who picked up a piece of jade engraved with the Divine Emblem, and after that, many strange things happened to him.  Time to see: 10:00am, 11:00am, 14:00pm, 15:00pm
liangzhu culture museum
 
 
 
 
Author: Sophia   Posted on Nov 19, 2013
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