Throckmorton Fine Art
Timed Auction

Liangzhu: Ritual Objects at the Dawn of China’s Jade Age

Thu, May 19, 2022 12:00AM EDT - Fri, Jun 3, 2022 05:00PM EDT
Lot 11

Cong (Ts'ung) Prismatic Cylinder with Abstract Human Face Engraving, Late Neolithic Period, Liangzhu Culture (3200 - 2300 BCE)

Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$2,000 $50
$5,000 $100
Jade, H: 5 3/16 in. W: 3 1/4 in. D: 3 1/8 in.


Dr. Elizabeth Childs-Johnson and Gu Fang write of this work in a catalog published by Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc. in 2012 on occasion of the exhibition entitled: Liangzhu Late Neolithic Jades: This jade pillar belongs to the category of symbolic ritual implements called cong in Chinese. The type is characterized by a tubular interior, circular except for two rough edges that meet at approximately the middle. Collars of the inner tube extend at top and bottom. The exterior forms a square skirt if viewed form above. Five tiers of similar images fill the fours corners and sides of the exterior. The stone is a rusty brown to dirty white color reflecting alteration, probably from leeching during burial. The Cong carries five layers of imagery and a total of twenty images formed out of prismatic triangles aligning vertically in symmetry on all four corners. These images projecting apotropaically outwards at cardinal corners, are composed of the standard semi-human visage. The latter is reduced to a stereotypical face composed of two eyes, a mouth, and a headdress. The visage is frontal and geometrically stylized: two drilled circles represent eyes, a short oval represents the mouth, and three long horizontal grooved bands signify the headdress. The totemic-like display of alternating images in enhanced by various techniques of décor, ranging from small-scale cloud scrolls filling the mouth and inner band of the semi-human's headdress, to simply drilled circles representing eyes and modeled, bas-relief cartouches. (Childs-Johnson, Gu 41)