Height: 7.700 cm
Width: 2.600 cm
On loan from a private collection OA 19:1
Room 33b: Chinese jade
Jade figure of a standing man
China, Western Zhou period, 10th century BC
Small carvings of human figures were made intermittently during the Neolithic period in China, but apart from a few figures from the tomb of Fu Hao, the consort of a Shang-dynasty king, and other royal tombs, there are almost no human images from central China in the Shang period (about 1500-1050 BC).
Figures from the Western Zhou (1050-771 BC) are equally rare, and they may also have been a product of renewed contact with the south of China which resulted in the use of human-like figures, in combination with birds, as surface decoration.
This figure has a large round and rather flat face, with eyes, eyebrows, a rounded nose and a small mouth. The man's hands are folded in front of him, and he wears a robe hanging in folds from the waist, with a long 'knee-cover' below the hands. The manner in which the garment hangs below the man's hands has prompted scholars to include this figure within a small group that has been dated to the Western Zhou, following the finding of such a figure in a Western Zhou tomb in the eastern suburbs of Luoyang.
J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)