Neolithic Period, Liangzhu Culture (ca. 3400 – ca. 2200 BCE)
Height: 24.9 cm
A Distinguished Chinese Collector Weisbrod Chinese Art, Ltd., New York Important North American Collector
Exhibited & Published:
Weisbrod 30 Years, An Anniversary Exhibition, Spring 2002, Weisbrod Chinese Art, Ltd., New York, no. 1A.
Weisbrod 50 Years, An Anniversary Exhibition, Spring 2002, Hong Kong, 1A.
The tubular object, tapering toward the bottom, is square in cross-section with a cylindrical hole, drilled from both sides, running the length of it. Each corner is carved into nine horizontal registers of geometric forms. Each register has two raised bands, separated by a depressed band, then a pair of circular, finely drilled eyes, below which a bar shape is carved in relief. The jade’s original color was a grey-green, which is still visible in areas, but now most of the Cong has altered to a creamy white.
The abstract geometric design, called by many a mask design, on each register emanates from the tubular column, turning a cylindrical tube into a square one. The mask design is most likely a stylized version of more elaborate masks found on smaller Cong , see Yang , number 29.
Historians still do not know for what purposes cong were produced and used. In fact the object was named Cong in Zhou Dynasty texts, which were written over one thousand years later than the production of these objects. Cong have been found in tombs, sometimes in multiples (in tomb 3 at Sidun, Wujin county, Jiangsu Province, 32 Cong were found), along with many other jade objects, and therefore seem important ritually, and only accessible to the very wealthy and powerful.
A similar but smaller cong, also with abstracted masks, is in the collection of the Liangzhu Culture Museum, Yuhang, see Liangzhu Culture Museum, number 4. A very similar Cong, is in the Art Institute of Chicago, see Pearlstein, fig. 5. With nine registers of decoration, and carved from brown jade, this example was produced during the 3rd millennium BCE. Reportedly discovered in Zhejiang Province.