Neolithic Period, Hongshan Culture
Height: 5 cm.
Width: 3.5 cm.
The celadon green color of this small Hongshan sculpture is infused in only a few' areas by white flecks. Typical Of the Hongshan style of working, U-shaped grooves define the image's facial features, such as the circular eyes, the oval folds around the eyes, the snout. and the jaw with fangs. Also typical of Hongshan jade-working is the emphasis on a sculptural expression and aesthetic. Softly rounded forms, including the thick curling body give way to a large head marked on the outer edge by two gently curving ears that softly rise at the top of the image in two molded peaks. As is characteristic of other 'pig-dragons' excavated at Hongshan sites, the form is C in shape, horizontally cut completely or only partly between the snout and end of the body. Here, the cut Stops just short of the end of the snout. The large hole that creates the inner hollow of the body is typically drilled from two sides that slope gradually inwards, again emphasizing the artistic sensibility for sculpturally modelled form.
This so-called 'pig-dragon' or Zhulong is a name initially coined by archaeologists to describe the head that has the of a boar or pig and a body that simulates the shape of China's early mythical dragon (long). As pointed out in an earlier article, the association of this form with the dragon is well documented by written evidence in oracle bone inscriptions of Shang times. The earliest bone graph signifying is C in shape (Childs-Johnson, 1991, p. 94-95). Many
Other 'pig-dragons' have been excavated from burials or picked up at sites connected with the Hongshan Culture. For the most recent publication including such pig-dragons see Sun and Guo, Niubeliang, 1997, color plates 1-3. For an article in English on Hongshan jades and the significance of the so-called 'pig-dragon,' see Childs-Johnson. 1991. pp.82-95. For 'pig-dragoms' in collections and exhibitions see Palace Museum Jadeuware, vol. 40, 1996, pls.7-8; Childs-Johnson, 1988, fig. 1 ( Musée Guimet) and 1991, color plate on p.15.