Jade Pig-dragon

AnonymousBC 3500-BC 3000

National Palace Museum

National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan

This unusually shaped pig-dragon is a jade object from the Hongshan Culture. Its round form recalls the jade chueh earrings of the Xinglonghua culture. The pig-dragon has bat ears, a wrinkled nose, and an arched mouth, and it resembles an animal embryo. Prehistoric people may have believed that an embryo represented the purest primal life force, and created this formal design as a symbol of vitality. Evidence of Hongshan Culture has been found in regions of northeastern China, today's Mongolia and Liaoning Province. It postdates Xinglonghua Culture by five or six thousand years, but inherits some of that culture's characteristics. Hongshan Culture is most notable for its fine jade objects carved with animal themes. Scholars have debated the proper name for these objects. Some have called them pig-dragons and others bear-dragons. Pigs are essential farm animals, while bears were objects of worship by ancient inhabitants of northeastern China. Dragons are mythical creatures. Whether the bodies of these carvings originated as pigs or bears, they are always curved, like the pictographic representation of the Chinese character for dragon.


  • Title: Jade Pig-dragon
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date Created: BC 3500-BC 3000
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 7.8cm, Width: 5.65cm, Thickness: 2.1-2.6cm
  • Type: Jades
  • Rights: National Palace Museum
  • Dynasty: Late Hongshan Culture

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