History of the Forbidden City of China, £8.99
Width: 5.800 cm
Bequeathed by Henry J. Oppenheim
Asia OA 1947.7-12.515
Room 33: Asia
Late Neolithic period, around 2000 BC
A finely carved ancient monster-like face
This jade carving combines a human-like face with large tusk-shaped teeth. The face is finely carved with thread relief indicating distinct features. Its hair is represented by tiny scrolls and lines.
A number of similar faces have been found in China, mainly from Neolithic times. They were a subject of great curiosity throughout early Chinese history: being collected in later periods, and copied, to some degree, by later carvers.
One such face was uncovered in a tomb dated to about 1300 BC in Jiangxi province, southern China. Another was discovered in a Western Zhou tomb of the tenth to ninth century BC near Xi'an, in Shaanxi province, northern China. We do not know what these ornaments signified to the Neolithic peoples who made them, nor to those who chose to be buried with them in subsequent eras.
J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)
J. Rawson (ed.), Mysteries of Ancient China: ne (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)