Jade Hooked Cloud-shaped Pei Ornament

AnonymousBC 3500-BC 3000

National Palace Museum

National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan

Peoples of the Hongshan Culture often saw birds of prey soaring over the vast deserts and steppes to the west of the Liao River and north of Mount Yan. As a result of which they concluded that this magnificent bird with a strong arched beak was a mystical messenger of the gods. This beautiful piece, an abstract carving that was thought to show apparently shows the mystical bird hidden in the clouds, was worn by sorcerers during ceremonies held to converse with the heavens. When polishing stone tools, the ancients discovered that jade was strong and durable, shining like the sunlight in spring. Ancestors of the Chinese believed that jade and fine silk with a sunny spring luster were rich in power or energy, which is why they frequently used these two materials as ceremonial items when offering sacrifices to the gods. It was also widely believed that objects of a certain shape or decorated with certain patterns were equally magical. For this reason, jades were carved to follow the perceived rhythm of the cosmos or the shape of ancestors and mystical animals. They were used while praying, as the belief was that such adornments would help convey deepest wishes of people to their ancestors and gods alike. This also marked the early flowering of the Chinese culture of revering jade.


  • Title: Jade Hooked Cloud-shaped Pei Ornament
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date Created: BC 3500-BC 3000
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 14.2cm, Width: 19.1cm, Thickness: 0.55cm
  • Type: Jades
  • Rights: National Palace Museum
  • Dynasty: Late Hongshan Culture

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