Diameter: from 3 inches, 7.6 cm to 1 5/8 inches, 4.2 cm

Five hardstone rings

China, late Neolithic period, 4th century BC

Five circular hardstone discs, each with a round hole cut to the centre, leaving apertures of varying width, and with plain sides.  The largest disc is of semi-translucent pale celadon jade, with some black and white markings. The agate ring is of rust brown colour.  The inner edge is composed of two faceted planes, the sloped surfaces terminate into a pointed outer edge.  The next disc is of jade, the stone a combination of green and brown tones.  The slit ring is of translucent white agate. The smallest slit ring is of jade, the stone a mottled rust brown tone, the sides straight.

The five pieces represent different types and forms of hardstone discs across the long history of Chinese culture. Slit rings, known as jue in Chinese, are found in the Hongshan culture (c. 3500 – 2000 BC) of the late Neolithic period and were still in use during the Warring States period (475 – 221 BC). The slit design indicates that they were probably worn as earrings.1 Comparable slit rings dated to the Hongshan culture are in the Taoshi Zhai collection.2 The discs probably formed part of larger pectoral sets of rings. A set of Warring States period moss agate rings of various sizes and a brown agate ring are in the Taoshi Zhai collection.3

Provenance: private collection, England

  1. Rawson, J. Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, British Museum, London, 1995, p. 119
  2. Chow, R. Sparkling Splendours – The Art of Ancient Chinese Carvings on Rock Crystal and Agate – The Taoshi Zhai Collection, The Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2000, cat. nos. 22, 24, p. 72
  3. Chow, R. op. cit. nos. 85 and 90, pp. 117 and 120