1200 BC - 650 BC

Colorful Jade

Jinsha Site Museum

The Essence of Unearthed Jade Artifacts at Jinsha Site            
Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, China  

In 2001, the Jinsha Site was found in the northwest part of Chengdu, China, covering an area of five (5) square meters. A series of important remains had been found such as large sacrificial area, palace, residential houses, graves and so on, in which artifacts were unearthed like delicate gold, jade, bronze as well as tons of ivories, presenting the majestic ancient kingdom in history. Jinsha site is considered as another political cultural and economic center in Chengdu after Sanxingdui. It is a prosperous period during the Late Shang to Western Zhou dynasty (1200-850 B.C) as the very important part of Chinese civilization, this discovery together with the pre-historical cities in Chengdu, Sanxingdui Site, and Boat-coffin in Warring States period indicated the whole progress of the development of ancient Chengdu. On April 16th, Jinsha Site officially opened to the public for protecting, studying and displaying the ancient Shu civilization.

Relics Hall- the Original Archaeological Site 

More than 2000 delicate jade artifacts are unearthed at Jinsha Site, by which people may go back to history to feel the ancient Shu culture.

There are lots of delicate jade artifacts with exquisite craftworks including Cong, Bi, Zhang, Ge-dagger axe, spear, yue-axe, adze, chisel, god-man shaped Sculpture, seashell, bracelet and so on.

Unearthed Jade Artifacts 
Exhibition Hall-Jade

Communicating between heaven and earth, Worshipping four directions

Jade cong is a sort of common type of jade artifact unearthed at Jinsha Site, in which the most attractive one named Ten-node Jade Cong, could be regarded as a typical Liangzhu jade from lower reaches of Yangtze river. This is the first one found in Chengdu at the same period of time. However, Jinsha site is far away from the region of Liangzhu culture, then how to transport these jade cuboids to Chengdu covering such huge span and time distance?

Ten-Node Cong 

Jade cong are cylindrical inside and square outside, respectively symbolizing ‘the round heaven and the square earth’. The interior hole penetrates to the bottom, implying ‘communicating between the heaven and the earth.

So far, nearly 20 jade cong are unearthed at Jinsha Site including the node cong with several sections and patterns, single node cong, and short cong with the thickness of bracelet.

Four-Node Cong 
Single-Node Cong 
Flat Cong

Jade bi is a sort of disk on shape with a hole in the center, and most of the jade bi disks are colorful and delicately made, showing us the characteristic of jade at Jinsha.

It was greatly surprised that the delicate jade artifacts were made with the exquisite craftworks. Seven groups of concentric fine circles are carved on the both sides of the disk, and the disk is well polished which looks just like a microgroove record of today.

Many jade bi artifacts were unearthed at Jinsha, among which a number of disks have raised edge around the hole, so they are named Collard bi Disk.

This is a big jade bi disk, which is delicately made and well polished. Due to the effects of light and soil, the two sides showed the different colors and hues when unearthed.

Collared Bi Disks 

The round bi disk conforms to the ancient people’s concept of the universe: heaven is round, and earth square. Therefore, most researchers believe bi disks were ritual artifacts for sacrifices to heaven, but some also held that such disks were symbols of wealth.

The bulges bi disk is a special form of bi disk, usually having three or four bulges with some teeth.

Before these bulges bi disks found at the Jinsha Site, they are not unearthed in Sichuan province, reflecting the cultural exchanges between the central plain of China and ancient Shu culture.

Collared Bulged Bi Disk 
Toothed Bi Disk 

Jade zhang artifacts unearthed at Jinsha site are delicate with good quality. It is a long stick-shaped artifact with nearly strait and smooth surface on the both sides with the concave edge or V-shaped edge and so on.

This Jade zhang has the pattern with ivory carrying on the man’s shoulder, and keening on the ground. Expert thought those figures are members of the ceremony, and showing us the section of their ritual ceremony.

Chengdu is an alluvial plain with low attitude, suffering from the flooding, so ivory usually could be used to subdue the devils of the river.

Zhang Blade with Ivory Carrying Figures 
Jade Zhang Blade  
Jade Zhang Blade  

There is an animal pattern with hollow-out technique at the middle of the edge of this jade zhang, besides, two groups of human face patterns are carved on the both sides with symmetric concave lines, which is probably a symbolic mark of the ancient Shu kingdom.

Jade Zhang Blade 

Due to the difficulty of getting jade mine, ancient people also made full use of each part of jade, and this jade should be a reworked artifact from another broken one.

Jade Zhang Blade  

Jade zhang was a very important ritual artifact in ancient China, Zhou Rites writes: jade is used to make six articles, which are offered to heaven, earth and gods of four directions, representing the social status as a symbol of authority.

Jade gui is not only the symbol of heaven, earth and gods of four directions, but also represents social status and classes in ancient China. They are different in terms of the length, side and quality.

Gui Tablet  

Pure jade as a symbol of destiny from heaven god

Dagger-axe, yue-axe, spear usually play the role of military power during the pre-Qin period, presenting social status as ritual artifacts.

The materials of jade dagger-axe unearthed at Jinsha site are widely selected with multiple color and fine artwork.


Jade yue-axe artifacts are firstly found in Sichuan province. They were delicately made with perfect jade mine, showing the social status and classes of their owner.

Battle-Axe with Animal-Face Pattern 

There are two kinds of jade spear at Jinsha, wide or narrow ones, some of them were made from the part of the other jade objects.


Jade tools and ornamental articles as ritual objects

Some jade chisels have long and narrow body on shape, others wide body with concave edge and their surface are quite colorful.

Like the jade blade and adze, the jade chisels are not practical use but for ritual purposes.

Chisel-Shape Object  

Large quantities of jade ornamental articles were unearthed at Jinsha Site such as bracelets, rings, turquoises, tubes, and pendants.

Jade Hoop-Shaped Object 
Jade Ring  
Jade Bracelet  

The function of the grooved jade trapezoid object is not clear, but experts presumed that this object was sealed with leather to serve as a sheath for swords.

The oval shaped jade was found at Jinsha with bronze component, and the function is not clear.

Grooved Trapezoid Object  
Jade Oval-Shaped Artifact  

A few of jade artifacts with human and animal patterns were also unearthed.

Jade Figure  
Jade Plaque With Raised Lines Representing Deformed Animal (Insecta) 
Seashell-Shape Pendant  

In ancient times people worshiped the natural elements, and among them, jade was regarded as a special gift to offer to the spirits. A tremendous number of jade ritual artifacts were unearthed at Jinsha including jade bi, cong, gui as well as jade dagger-axes, yue-axes, and spears, showing us the unique contents and different objectives to worship in terms of their ritual ceremony.

Jinsha was buried in history, and protected as well. These unearthed treasures represent the beliefs and dreams of our ancestors, indicating the unique sense of art and culture in the past, which is still shining and eye-catching.  These artifacts of gold, jade, bronze, stone, ivory are different in terms of the quality, texture, and shape, but all of them show us their aesthetic ideas and awareness by the symmetric pattern design and fine layout as well as rich and colorful articles. They tell us their interesting story and unique spiritual world, reminding us of this ancient  and mysterious culture.

Credits: Story

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王方、江章华、朱章义 — 《金沙玉器》,科学出版社,2006年
王方 — 《金沙玉器类型及特点》,《中原文物》2004年第4期
王方 — 《金玉同辉:古蜀金沙王国秘宝》讲座

Credits: All media
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