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Ancient China Has Unique Jade Culture: Experts

A jade bell so delicate that no one dares to weigh it in case it breaks has been discovered at a Neolithic site at Lingjiatan, in east China's Anhui province. This priceless jade bell is as thin as a piece of paper, and has a diameter of 1.7 cm and a height of 1.2 cm.

Archeologist Zhang Jingguo explained, "There were three jade processing centers in the world in prehistoric times -- Mexico, New Zealand and China. But only China developed a unique jade culture.

"As long ago as 3,000 B.C., the Chinese people regarded jade articles as representations of virtue, fortune and power. That was absent in the other two cultures."

The Lingjiatan site dates back 5,500 years. Archeologists have excavated close to 1,000 jade pieces in some 2,250 square meters of the site, representing a little more than one thousandth of the total area.

Zhang said, "It is rare to find so many jade pieces in such a tiny area. What's more, those jade pieces are the best of their kind ever found at a Neolithic site."

Former curator of the China History Museum Yu Weichao said that jade pendants and daggers found at Lingjiatan are evidence of ancient warfare and military coalitions.

Certain pendants occur in identical halves, leading to speculation that they served as pledges of marriage, indicating inter-marriages between clans.

All six jade figurines discovered have mustaches, indicating that the custom of shaving using primitive razors was practiced in China 5,000 years ago.

The most mysterious piece has the head of a pig surmounting the spread wings of an eagle, and on the breast is inscribed a sun pattern.

Zhang said that these symbols might indicate sun worship and agriculture.

The people at Lingjiatan had advanced jade processing techniques. They were able to bore through jade pieces that were as hard than diamonds, signifying the use of abrasives, Zhang


He said that stone bores found at Lingjiatan are a major discovery. One end of each bore is bigger than the other, so that the perforation will not depart from its position by centrifugal force when rotating at a high speed.

Zhang said," It's really amazing to think that ancient Chinese people had knowledge of such fields as physics, mathematics and geometry."

The Anhui Archeology Institute has applied to issue a set of six stamps on the subject of the Lingjiatan Cultural Relics.

(People's Daily November 23,2001)

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