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Gallery Text

Before the advent of metallurgy, numerous Neolithic cultures — which relied primarily upon stone tools, farming, domesticated animals, and pottery making — were scattered throughout vast regions of China. The cultures that produced the most remarkable earthenware (ceramics fired up to about 1000° C) tended to inhabit areas along China’s major rivers, and by the late Neolithic period (c. 5000–c. 2000 BCE), two notable ceramic types distinguished themselves from coarser utilitarian pottery — painted earthenware from settlements along the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River, and black pottery from cultures near the lower Yellow and Yangzi River valleys. Painted ceramics were hand-built, made of fine reddish or buff clays, and embellished with dark slip (liquid clay) to create vibrant, mostly abstract designs. Black pottery vessels were wheel-thrown, sometimes to the thinness of an eggshell, blackened during the firing process, and burnished to a high gloss. These delicate objects were impractical for daily use and were likely used for ceremonial purposes. Several Neolithic cultures also fashioned beautiful jades or hard stones — usually nephrite, an extremely hard mineral native to China — into ceremonial tools and weapons, ritual objects, or items of personal adornment. These jades were sliced, shaped, perforated, incised, and polished using non-metallic tools and abrasive crystals of even greater hardness than the jade itself, a painstakingly labor-intensive process that only the privileged could afford.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.50.497
Title
Fluted Jade Ring
Classification
Ritual Implements
Work Type
ring
Date
c. 2500 BCE - c. 2000 BCE
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Period
Neolithic period, Longshan culture, c. 3000-1900 BCE
Culture
Chinese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/204860
Location
Level 1, Room 1740, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Translucent, deep celadon-green and opaque, bone-colored nephrite
Dimensions
H. 5.4 x Diam. 6 x Thickness of ring 0.6 cm (2 1/8 x 2 3/8 x 1/4 in.)
Weight 120 g
Provenance
Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (by 1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Published Text
Catalogue
Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
Authors
Max Loehr and Louisa G. Fitzgerald Huber
Publisher
Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975)

Catalogue entry no. 172 by Max Loehr:

172 Fluted Ring
Translucent, deep celadon-green and opaque, bone-colored jade. Around the outside of this irregularly circular ring are carved out seven horizontal channels, separated by eight angular ridges. Shang.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.50.497
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Sueji Umehara, ed., Shina kogyoku zuroku (Selected Specimens of Chinese Archaic Jade), Kuwana Bunseido (Kyoto, Japan, 1955 (Shôwa 30)), pl. 52: 3

Max Loehr and Louisa G. Fitzgerald Huber, Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975), cat. no. 172, p. 136

Exhibition History

S427: Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/20/1985 - 04/30/2008

Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 1740 Early China I, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu