The Liangzhu culture is renowned for its burial rituals, which included placing their dead in wooden coffins above ground. Besides the famous wooden coffin burials, the Jade Discs were another astounding discovery from this ancient culture.
These discs have been found in over twenty tombs representing the sun and moon in their celestial cycle and underworld guardians. However, the mystery surrounding these Jade Discs has led many archaeologists and theorists to speculate on various fascinating theories; the actual purpose of these strange discs is still unknown.
The Liangzhu culture and the Jade Discs
The Liangzhu culture flourished in China’s Yangtze River Delta between 3400 and 2250 BC. According to the findings of the archaeological excavations in the past few decades, members of the culture’s upper class were interred alongside objects made of silk, lacquer, ivory, and Jade—a green mineral used as jewelry or for ornaments. This suggests that there was a distinct class divide during this period.
The Chinese bi Discs, usually referred to simply as Chinese bi, are among the most mysterious and fascinating objects manufactured in ancient China. These large stone discs were affixed to the bodies of Chinese nobility beginning at least 5,000 years ago.
Later instances of bi discs, typically made from Jade and glass, date back to the Shang (1600-1046 BC), Zhou (1046-256 BC), and Han periods (202 BC–220 AD). Even though they were fashioned from Jade, a burdensome stone, their original purpose, and construction method remains a mystery to scientists.
What are bi-discs?
Jade, a precious hardstone composed of several silicate minerals, is frequently used to create vases, jewelry, and other decorative objects. It comes in two primary varieties, nephrite and jadeite. It is typically colorless unless contaminated with another substance (such as chromium), at which point it takes on a bluish-green hue.
The Jade Discs, also known as bi discs, were crafted by the Liangzhu people of China in the late Neolithic Era. They are round, flat rings made of nephrite. They were found in practically all significant tombs of the Hongshan civilization (3800-2700 BC) and survived throughout the Liangzhu culture (3000-2000 BC), suggesting that they were immensely significant to their society.
What were bi-discs used for?
The stones were positioned prominently on the corpse of the deceased, typically close to the chest or stomach, and frequently included symbols related to the sky. Jade is known in Chinese as “YU,” which signifies purity, wealth, and honor.
It is puzzling why the ancient Neolithic Chinese would have chosen Jade, given that it is such a complex material to work with due to its hardness.
Since no metal tools from that period have been discovered, researchers believe they were presumably manufactured using brazing and polishing, which would have taken a very long time to complete. Therefore, the obvious question here is why they would go to such an effort.
One possible explanation for the significance of these stone discs is that they are tied to a deity or deity. Some have speculated that they represent the sun, while others have seen them as a symbol of a wheel that is cyclical, like life and death.
The significance of the Jade Discs is evidenced in war; the vanquished party was required to deliver the Jade Discs as a gesture of submission. They were not mere ornaments.
Some people believe that the mysterious story of the Dropa Stone Discs, which are also disc-shaped stones and are said to be 12,000 years old, is connected to the level of the Jade Discs. The Dropa stones are said to have been discovered in a cave in the mountains of Baian Kara-Ula, located on the border between China and Tibet.
Were the Jade Discs found in Liangzhu connected to the Dropa Stone Discs?
Archaeologists have been scratching their heads over jade discs for ages, but because they were crafted when no written records existed, their significance is still a mystery to us. As a result, the question of the significance of Jade Discs and why they were created is still unresolved. Moreover, no one can confirm whether the Jade Discs were related to the Dropa Stone Discs.
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