Friday, January 8, 2010

Xizhou Carnelian (Manao) Disc Beads

Here's a richly red string of carnelian (manao) disc beads from the Xizhou Dynasty (1027-771BC)

There are numerous examples of these carnelian discs in Chinese and Western books. A string of  carnelian discs like mine, can be seen in Roger Chow's Sparkling Splendor, pg.90 which is attributed to the Xizhou Dynasty.

Carnelian discs also appear in the magnificient pectoral ensembles of Xizhou Dynasty. Many examples  are documented in the Chinese publication Zhonghua Wenming Chuan Zhen 2. on pg. 99,105,111,112,113.  However  carnelian discs were used only in supporting and contrasting roles  to hold  the more valuable jade congs, plaques, huangs, bis and the whatever important jades in place and to give color contrast.

Below is a picture of a Zhou jade pectoral exhibited at the Henan Museum. It shows an ensemble of carnelian discs sitting alongside jade huangs. Whee ! what a swinging chain fit for an emperor to strut around in.  Who else would go striding around with such a chain :) ?

In Zhou times the discs rosy hue must have made a striking contrast with the white nephrite huangs. For present day use I prefer to put them next to icy crystals.

 Manao and crystal

Although the carnelian discs maybe  generic and  unremarkable alongside the princely jade pieces, I am a sucker for their flaming color and their rich place in history.

Here is a favourite bracelet of mine using the discs together with slender jade tubes

Jade tubes are not so old and maybe at most only 50-100 years or less.

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Favourite Books

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