A Nephritis (Jade) Disc BI
Neolithic Period, 3300–2300 BC. The case of Liangzhu, China.
The bi is a type of circular ancient Chinese jade artifact. The earliest bi were produced in the Neolithic period, particularly by the Liangzhu culture (3400–2250 BCE). Later examples date mainly from the Shang, Zhou and Han dynasties.
Jade, like bi disks, has been used throughout Chinese history to indicate an individual of moral quality, and has also served as an important symbol of rank. They were used in worship and ceremony – as ceremonial items they symbolised the ranks of emperor, king, duke, marquis, viscount, and baron with four different Guis and two different bi disks.
In war during the Zhou dynasty period (c. 1046–256 BCE), bi disks belonging to the leaders of the defeated forces were handed over to the victor as a sign of submission.
The original function and significance of the bi are unknown, as the Neolithic cultures have left no written history. From these earliest times they were buried with the dead, as a sky symbol, accompanying the dead into the after world or "sky," with the cong which connected the body with the earth. They were placed ceremonially on the body in the grave of persons of high social status. Bi are sometimes found near the stomach and chest in neolithic burials.
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