Monday, June 23, 2008

Scary, scary face bead 1

I bought this small sized white jade face bead/pendant from China. It is only 2cm x 1.3cm. The beancurd white color of the bead resembles Liangzhu Culture (3400-2250 BC) stuff, but I have never seen anything from that period which is so tiny as this bead pendant of mine. Nor in this type of design or form. The eyes are also not Liangzhu Culture eyes. But here I must quickly add that I have not had that much exposure to Liangzhu artifacts, just what I get from books and on the Net. Well if Liangzhu is ruled out maybe it is from another ancient culture. I have also tried the scratch test. Somewhere some collector had said that if the jade article scratches white then it is ancient. Not sure how accurate such tests are but I tried it on the back of mine and it scratched white. There are also minute grind marks in the small mouth aperture which are another sign of age.

The features of this face bead look a bit grim and the hole which represents the mouth gives the impression of a demented howl. It reminds me of the impressionist painting "The scream" which is said to smybolize modern man taken by an attack of existential angst. How strange, is this the face of neolithic man or modern man ? Stranger still if this is a fake bead, was the faker inspired by the famous Norwegian painting. And added to that what a small unique piece to fake. On the other hand, if it is a genuine ancient piece, looks like neolithic man had also their share of mental anguish :)

And what is that cloud pattern design above the mouth representing ? I thought it was the nostrils but Heng says it could be a moustache ! Ooh, cloud pattern as a curling moustache on ancient man ! That's a cool idea. As a collector I obsess about fakes and genuine all the time and this piece has given me endless hours of speculation.
After writing the above post I came across a website on Liangzhu excavations, where tiny jade objects such as mine were described as inlays for swords and knives. So, whoopee ! Mine may be a genuine Liangzhu culture face bead after all !

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Favourite Books

  • Theft : a love story
  • The Uncommon Reader
  • Never Let me go
  • Angela's Angels
  • Where angels fear to tread