Neolithic Period, Liangzhu Culture (ca. 3400 – ca. 2200 BCE)
Diameters: 20.8 cm, 18.8 cm, 19 cm.
A Distinguished Chinese Collector Important North American Collector
Exhibited & Published:
Weisbrod 30 Years, An Anniversary Exhibition, Spring 2002, Weisbrod Chinese Art, Ltd., New York, no. 1M.
The circular jade discs are drilled through the middle with a large hole. The holes on all of the discs were drilled partway on each side, leaving a ridge within the holes of two discs. The edges of each disc are squared off, while the surface of each is flat and smooth. One disc has a notch along the edge, which looks to be deliberately carved. Another disc has one side that is not completely flat; the surface dips near the center hole, but is worked smooth, indicating that this dip in the surface is not damage, but rather was a soft spot in the stone present at the time of production.
This disc retains most of its original color; one side shows the mottled brown and green color, while the other side has almost completely altered to a creamy white color. The other two discs were originally carved from a dark green-grey jade, although now much of their surface has altered, creating a creamy white stone flecked with areas of the original color.
Bi discs were polished and carefully smoothed to produce the very simple, recognizable shape of a large, thick ring. Historians are still not certain what the function of Bi discs was during the Neolithic period. They are found in tombs, surrounding the corpse, while the finest Bi is usually laid upon the chest of the deceased.
A very similar bi disc also from the Liangzhu culture and having a ridge in the perforation is published in Liangzhu Culture Museum, number 17. Another similar Bi disc, with a diameter of 19 cm., dated to ca. 2500 BCE, is in the collection of the British Museum, and published by Rawson, fig. 2. A slightly smaller bi disc also having dips in the smoothly worked surface, now in the collection of the Shanghai City Cultural Bureau, is published in the Compendium of Chinese Jades, vol. 1, number 235.
Reportedly discovered in Zhejiang Province.