古玉風狂飆江南岸——良渚玉出土地探訪

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1993 / 11月

文‧陳淑美 圖‧張良綱


中國愛玉、崇玉、也玩賞玉。說它「溫潤以澤,其聲舒揚,不撓而折,銳廉而不忮,類似君子」,對它賦予豐富的聯想與感情。

這樣的傳統是何時開始的?以往的文獻推斷可能始於夏商周三代,如今的資料卻證明,其實遠從新石器時代,中國人已經以玉為祭祀工具。從中國大陸浙江省餘杭縣出土的「良渚玉」,便是見證。


從中國大陸杭州到鄰近的餘杭縣,車行約半小時,剛過小運河,進入良渚鎮,有人驚呼,「這就是聞名世界,以產玉知名的良渚鎮了!」

世界聞名!浙江省文物研究所陪同外賓的人員形容得並不誇張,從美國華盛頓、台北故宮等各大博物館,到香港摩囉街玉器市場,台北建國南北路橋下的假日玉市,都可以尋到「良渚玉」的芳蹤。以「年紀」排名,這世界排起來很可能是數一數二的老玉,正以它「抽象的幻想,寫實的表現」(玉器商人的形容),風靡全世界的文物市場,且歷久不衰。

江南小鎮出美玉

遠離珠光寶氣,良渚鎮予人的感覺卻是江南小鎮慣有的水氣盈盈。塞車連連的公路兩旁,一望無際的翠綠稻田,加上田邊間的竹林小溪,對台灣來到的訪客來說,一點也不陌生。

只是,田間景觀似乎還有些許不同。有些稻田是收割?還是荒蕪了?明顯地露出灰灰黑黑的土地,上頭有些人正在耕作,不,在挖土呢!

說得真確一些,其實他們正在挖墓——古墓裡頭有許多良渚文物。聞名世界的良渚玉,就是從這些稻田出土的。

考古學上,良渚文化的定義十分籠統。年代從距今五千三百到四千二百年,與山東龍山、閩台大坌坑、卑南文化一樣,都屬新石器時代晚期。它的分布範圍也極廣,從浙江杭州邊的餘杭縣,遠至江蘇太湖地區,最後到江浙地區的東南沿海一帶,均屬這個文化的範疇。

從考古學的角度來說,「僻處」長江流域的良渚文物的發現與重新認識,是大陸近年來史前文明史的重大突破。

過去的史前史,「總是龍山、仰韶一統天下」,浙江省文物考古研究所副研究員王明達形容,一般人都認為文明的起源及重心在華北,良渚文物大量出土以後,證實如同黃河流域一般,長江流域也有「極輝煌、燦爛的文化」;甚至於在新石器時期,文明程度並不遜於北方。

三代之前已愛玉成風

良渚文化出土物中,類似稻穀、石犁、陶器、絹、麻、竹器等的出土物,證實長江流域遠古農業文明的發達,但最令世人「驚豔」的,首推玉器。

浙江省博物館內,省文物考古研究所副研究員王明達小心翼翼地搬出良渚鎮的挖掘成果:內圓外方、中心貫通的筒形玉器——琮,表面光素無紋的璧,刃部刻有雲鳥紋的玉鉞,及龍首玉鐲,玉帶鈎,動物形的玉蛙、玉蝶、玉項飾,錐形器等全是良渚玉器的典型代表作。

在泥裡埋了數千年的這些玉器,顏色並不如一般想像呈湖綠或褚紅色,卻意外地呈乳白色,古董行家稱為「雞骨白」。各類玉器中尤其是膾炙人口的「反山」十二號墓出土物——高達八.八公分、直徑十七.六公分、重達六.五公斤的「大琮王」,最引人注意。

中國人愛玉有其傳統,過去我們總認為,中國人愛玉風氣遠從夏商周三代開始,但是近年考古資料卻一一推翻前說。許多新石器時期的玉器,特別是良渚玉的大量出土,不僅證明了遠在三代之前中國人已經開始有愛玉的風氣,距今五千年前的製玉技術,也叫今人大為歎服。

以「大琮王」為例,琮共分四節,每節外方的四個角,各有一隻多圈圓眼的獸面紋;中間則淺刻凹槽,凹槽上下,又浮雕兩只獸面紋;獸面上頭,再浮雕出一個頭戴羽冠的神人。

良渚玉琮貫通天地

神人圖案極其精細,用肉眼並不易看清楚,須用放大鏡才行。這樣精緻的圖案是用什麼工具?怎麼雕出來?由於雕刻工具仍未找著,至今仍是個謎。據後人的研究,良渚玉器採用鋸、割、齒、磨、雕、刻等多種工藝手段,許多人懷疑,當時已有專業的玉工。

這是否證明當時人的文明程度,已非茹毛飲血?或只是啟蒙開端?甚至王權、國家、文字形成,都已到達一定程度?香港中文大學考古學者楊建芳認為,像大琮王及璧、鉞等物,形制精美,體積又甚為碩大,這樣巨大的玉器,要戴在身上當飾品並不容易,可能是作禮器用。

考古學者張光直對琮的解釋是:在良渚時代,應有所謂「巫師」階級,藉天圓地方的琮形,幫人們溝通天地,而當時可能已有階級社會。

他還認為,從良渚文化玉器的大量出現,可推測我國古文獻記載中,「軒轅、神農、赫胥之時,以石為兵;黃帝之時,以玉為兵;禹帝之時,以銅為兵……」的可靠性;我國的遠古社會很可能與西方不同,在石器和銅器之間,還有一個玉器時代。

「反山」起轟動效應

與近年大陸各地出土的史前文物相比,良渚玉的出土受到更多的注目,這與大陸從八○年代開始的開放政策息息相關。

良渚玉的挖掘早在一九三○年代。王明達指出,當時,南京到杭州的「京杭國道」開通,浙江餘杭縣良渚鎮的公路剛好位在線上,那時在田地上大量取土,許多玉器自然出坑。「如今在良渚鎮,隨便找到七、八十歲的老人,都能說出當時挖玉的經驗」,王明達說。

「當時因為出土數量尚少,對良渚的認識,還是很粗淺,大多推斷它是三代時期的玉器,也有人更往後推,認為是漢玉」,楊建芳則說。

到一九七○年代,江蘇草鞋山、上海福泉山,陸續出土了被確定屬新石器時代的良渚玉,原來傳統的古玉區——良渚鎮便被賦予更多期待。一九八六年五月到十月,位良渚鎮附近的「反山遺址」十餘座古墓挖掘,出坑了三千多件良渚玉器。「起了轟動效應」,王明達說,良渚玉在考古學的地位因而確定。

反山遺址外,在餘杭縣,良渚玉還有一處重要出土地——「瑤山遺址」,一九八七年也曾出土玉器六百三十多件套。這兩處遺址的出土物,九十%以上是玉器,幾乎囊括了江浙地區良渚玉出土的大部分,因此吸引最多外來客的參觀。「八八年之後,台灣的訪客已來了數十批」,王明達說。

「瑤山」因盜墓而出土

眾人矚目之下,良渚玉身價愈形抬高,但也帶來許多後遺症,盜玉、製售假玉的傳說從未停歇。

瑤山遺址搶在一九八七年出土,即「拜盜墓者之賜」。

一九八七年四月三十日,謠傳瑤山遺址古墓區有玉,幾千農民聚集哄搶。據說當時共有兩百多個墓洞被盜,等到事隔多日,當地公安會同文物人員至瑤山查驗,許多玉器早已流失。但光從收繳的「餘波」可猜想瑤山出土的驚人。據說,在收繳的最後一天,共有玉器三百多件,光是玉琮就有六個。

根據資料,反山遺址曾有一個墓葬出土二百多件玉器的紀錄,瑤山遺址最後計算出土玉器共六百餘件,其中流失的不知有多少?王明達指出,事實上,等到墓被挖開,再去查驗、收繳,其實已經都是亡羊補牢了。

「像古玉這樣的小東西,要藏起來還不容易!?稻草堆、竹椅圈,甚至蔬果裡頭都有可能」,台灣古董收藏家徐政夫說。良渚鎮繪聲繪影的傳說中,一些流落在外的古物,常常也因分贓不平或遭人覬覦,而遭到破壞,甚至在農村裡衍生一些社會案件。

王明達知道的一個實例是,有一個「犯罪分子」曾偷盜一只長玉管,後來遭到另一農民覬覦,趁機將他綁到荒郊野外,要他交出贓物,犯罪分子不依,覬覦農民又無法知道藏玉之處,最後兩人「達成協議」,將所藏玉管鋸開分別販賣。嗚呼哀哉,大好文物因而受到破壞。

嗚呼哀哉,文物遇害

以往大陸偷盜文物的傳說中,曾有因搬不動佛像,因而割斷佛頭的情事,良渚鎮類似截斷玉器的事情,看似「小巫見大巫」,但對文物的破壞則一。王明達提及,更糟糕的盜墓者,為省事及逃避有關部門的追究,往往將墓區搗亂,以消滅罪證。而破壞過的古墓,跟流失墓區古文物的處境相同,即使找到,也已脫離了出土地點及原始環境,對學術及歷史價值都是莫大的戕害。

「以目前『人人向錢看』的社會風氣來看,經濟浪潮勢不可擋,其實我們都是其中受害者」,談起良渚的盜玉事件,王明達的話裡有許多感慨。「以前大家都『一窮二白』,也沒有那麼多人來收購文物,農民在田間不小心剷到了古玉,大多上繳。隨著改革開放,人民的生活好了,但是對於財物的眷戀卻也更大了」,王明達說,就他記憶所及,一九七八年經濟改革開始之後,沒聽過良渚玉上繳過。

對考古人員來說,這幾年從各地尋訪而來的愛玉者也讓他們深受刺激。他們對文物的珍視及對歷史的熱愛,「的確是大陸所不能及的」。重視古文物得有條件,「要錢要人」,王明達坦承,旁的不說,以浙江文物研究單位現有人力財力,「搶救」各地因大力建設而碰到的遺址,都已經來不及了,那能奢談遺址保護、文物整理。「許多擺在倉庫中成堆研究材料都仍尚待整理、發表呢!」他說。

等待真心疼惜

浙江省博物館庫房內,類似玉琮等珍貴的出土物,其收藏的方式是:用白布裹起來,就放於馬口鐵製的便當盒內。跟台灣公私立博物館小心翼翼地收藏方式相比,這樣的收藏方式的確有些粗糙。常年跟這些文物相處的王明達有點尷尬地解釋道,「這都還是出土時的原包裝,還沒整理過呢。虧待了先人文物,讓大家見笑了!」

或許不是那麼快就會做好,但是大家都的確相信,有朝一日,這些西湖邊的千年珍寶——良渚玉,也能與世界其他著名的出土物一樣,真心受到它應得的疼惜與眷顧。

〔圖片說明〕

P.46

桃樹、稻田、工廠、民宅……尋常的江南景觀,卻是良渚鎮「反山遺址」全景,就在圖中圍牆下的田中挖出了頂頂大名的良渚玉。

P.48

良渚玉璧的特徵是光素無紋,通體磨光。其功能推測與禮天、辟邪、陪葬等習俗有關。

P.48

浙江博物館內,珍貴的良渚玉皆不准近拍。這是良渚最典型的玉器——琮。此琮四個角皆有圓眼多圈的獸面紋,玉質透光。

P.48

「反山」出土最著名的「大琮王」上,有以微雕手法精刻的羽冠神人像。這個神人與出土墓主人頭部的裝飾雷同,很可能是仿造墓主生前的裝飾。

P.49

鐲上的龍首總共有四個頭,此類的造型紋飾,在三代及秦漢均曾發現,一般稱為「蚩尤環」。

P.49

瑤山出土的三叉形器,上端成「山」字形,其上有穿孔,很可能是用來搭配服飾的玉。

P.49

「反山」出土的錐形器,接近底部處亦有獸面紋。

P.50

良渚鎮還有許多工地尚在進行挖掘。但文物出坑時不准外來客接近,拍照時已在進行工地整理。

P.51

灰瓦白牆的民宅前,夏稻已經收割,魚米之鄉的江南,在過去考古學的範疇中,卻是不獲重視之地。

P.52

只要碰著遺址所在,這類的工程就得停工。大陸考古界這幾年主要的工作即在「搶救」這類因建設而發現的遺址。

P.52

長江流域接近春夏交接之際,桃子已經成熟。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Jade Craze--Unearthing the Liangzhu Relics

Jackie Chen /photos courtesy of Vincent Chang /tr. by Brent Heinrich

China loves jade, admires jade, savors jade. It is called "Warm and lustrous, with a vibration heard far away, breakable but not bent, with a sharpness that does not hurt, like a fine gentleman."It is endowed with rich connotations and emotions.

When did this kind of tradition begin?Previous scholarship deduced that it possibly began at the time of the three dynasties Hsia, Shang and Chou. With the proof of present data, we know that as long ago as the New Stone Age, Chinese people were using jade as tools of worship. Liangzhu Jade, excavated in Yuhang County, Zhejiang Province, is evidence.


To pass from Hangzhou in mainland China to neighboring Yuhang County takes a drive of about half an hour. Just after crossing a little canal, the car enters Liangzhu Township, and some passengers exclaim, "This place is the world renowned Liangzhu, where the famous jade comes from!"

World famous, indeed, as the public relations representative for the Zhejiang provincial Artifact Research Institute describes it, with no exaggeration. From the biggest museums, such as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the National Palace Museum in Taipei, to jade markets, such as Cat Street in Hong Kong or the weekend jade market under the Chienkuo Bridge in Taipei, Liangzhu jade can be seen. Among all the old jades in the world, it very possibly ranks first. Its "abstract vision and realistic expression" (a jade trader's description) has swept the world of antique markets, and its impact is sure to last a long time.

The beautiful jade of Liangzhu:

Liangzhu Township is far from sparkling with jewels and treasure; the feeling that impresses a person is that of the misty air of this little town in the Jiangsu-Zhejiang region. On either side of the highway over which the bus goes lie unending paddies of rice. At the edge of the paddies are stands of bamboo through which run little brooks; for a visitor arriving from Taiwan, this scene is not strange in the least.

Yet some parts of these fields appear quite different. Aren't a few plots already harvested? Or are they lying fallow? There is dark gray dirt lying obviously exposed and some people standing in it, tilling, no . . . they are digging!

To put it more precisely, they are actually digging up graves; the old tombs hold several Liangzhu artifacts. The world famous Liangzhu jade comes up from the dirt under these rice fields.

In archaeology the definition of Liangzhu culture is completely vague. Its age is between 5300 and 4200 years ago, the same as the Lungshan culture of Shandong, or the ancient cultures of Fujian and Taiwan found at the Daben excavations and at Peinan; all date to the later part of the New Stone Age. Its area of distribution is also very large. From Yuhang County along the border of Zhejiang and Hangzhou all the way to the Taihu region of Jiangsu Province, and from there to the sea coasts in the Jiangsu-Zhejiang region, all played host to this culture.

From the perspective of archaeology, the discovery and new recognition of Liangzhu culture in the remote Yangtze river valley represents the most important breakthrough in recent years for understanding mainland China's prehistoric civilization.

In the past, prehistoric civilization " . . . generally revolved around Lungshan and Yangshao," says Wang Mingda, research assistant at the Archaeological Institute of Zhejiang Province. Most people believe that the origin and center of civilization was in North China. After the excavation of huge numbers of artifacts of the Liangzhu, it was established that the Yangtze river valley, like the Yellow river valley, also held "a very glorious and splendid culture." For a neolithic culture, it was in no way inferior to the north.

Prehistoric fashion:

Among the unearthed artifacts of the Liangzhu culture, such as rice grain, earthenware dishes, silk, hemp and bamboo implements, was something which proved the advanced accomplishments of the Liangzhu civilization, and brought marvel to the faces of all who beheld it: jade.

In the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Assistant Researcher of the Archaeological Institute of Zhejiang Province Wang Mingda delicately moves the results of digging in Liangzhu Township: a tsung, a small jade vessel, round on the inside, square on the outside, with a hollowed-out cup-shaped center; a smooth and patternless pi (a flat jade disk with a hole in the center); a jade axe head whose blade is carved in the pattern of clouds and birds. There is more: a jade bracelet shaped like a dragon's head, a jade belt buckle, a life-like jade frog, a jade butterfly, a jade pendant, a tapered jade pike and more. All are typical representational jade objects of the Liangzhu culture.

The color of these pieces of jade, buried for thousands of years in the mud, is not mossy green or ocher, as one might expect; it is milky white, what antique experts term "chicken bone white." Of all the different kinds of jade, the piece that has become the hot topic of discussion is the artifact excavated from Fanshan tomb #12. At a height of 8.8 cm, 17.6 cm in diameter, and weighing 6.5 kg, the "King of Tsung Jade" is rivetingly impressive.

The Chinese love of jade has its own tradition. In the past we all generally believed that the appetite for jade came into vogue during the Hsia, Shang and Chou dynasties. But today archaeological evidence has overthrown yesterday's theories. The many jade objects of the New Stone Age, especially the flood of Liangzhu artifacts, not only prove that the Chinese began to adore jade long before the Hsia, Shang and Chou era; the techniques for fashioning jade that were employed five thousand years ago still draw the admiration of people living today. The"King of Tsung Jade," for example, is divided into four identical sections. Each section has four corners, on which can be seen a pattern of beast faces with eyes composed of multiple concentric circles. In the middle is a lightly carved groove. At the top and bottom of the groove are two reliefs of beast faces, on top of which is the relief of a god's head sporting a feather cap.

A world unto themselves:

The pattern of the god is very delicate and complex. One can not view it clearly with the naked eye; a magnifying glass is required. What kind of tool was used to fashion this kind of intricate pattern? How was it carved? Because no carving tools have yet been discovered, this is still a mystery. According to current research, a variety of techniques, such as sawing, cutting, gouging with cogs, grinding, carving, and chiseling, were employed to produce Liangzhu's objects of jade. Many people suspect that at the time there was already a professional jade craft.

Is this evidence of nascent civilization? Or was their civilization already well advanced? Had they even attained a certain system of sovereignty, nationality, and a written form of language? Archaeologist Yang Jianfang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong believes many of the objects, such as the "King of Tsung Jade," disks and axes, are beautifully formed and very large. These kinds of bulky jade objects are not easy to wear as a common decoration. Perhaps they were used as articles of worship.

Archaeologist Chiang Kuang-chi offers this explanation of the tsung: in the Liangzhu era, they already had the position of the so-called "witch doctor," who helped the people communicate with heaven by using the shape of the tsung to symbolize the round sky and the square earth. Perhaps by that time they had already attained a stratified society.

He still believes that from the appearance of the great numbers of Liangzhu jade pieces, the approximate meaning can be inferred from the ancient writing, "In the time of the rulers Hsuan Yuan, Shen Nung and Ho Hsu, stones were used as weapons. In the time of the emperor Huang Ti, jade was used for weapons. In the time of Yu [founder of the Hsia dynasty], bronze was used for weapons . . . ." Ancient Chinese society very possibly developed differently from the West; perhaps between the Stone and Bronze 'Ages, there was a Jade Age.

The great Fanshan rave: Compared to the other prehistoric relics recently unearthed in mainland China, Liangzhu jade has receive much more attention. This is closely related to the mainland policy of liberalization begun in the 1980s.

Liangzhu jade was first unearthed early on in the 1930s. Wang Mingda points out that at that time the Nanjing-Hangzhou National Highway had just opened up. Situated in Yuhang County, Zhejiang Province, Liangzhu was placed perfectly in the path of the new road. Much of the farmland was dug up for the road, and many jade objects were naturally exhumed. "Ask any old folks in Liangzhu, 70 or 80 years of age, and they all can tell you stories of digging up jade from the dirt in those days," says Wang Mingda.

"At the time the amount dug up was small, so knowledge about Liangzhu was very shallow. Most people presumed it was jade of the Hsia, Shang and Chou. Still others placed it even more recently, during the Han dynasty," says Yang Jianfang.

In the 1970s, many places, such as Caoxie Mountain in Jiangsu and Fuquan Mountain in Shanghai, one after the other uncovered Liangzhu jade that was verified to be from the neolithic period. Originally recognized as a traditional old jade area, Liangzhu was given even greater expectations. Then, from May to October of 1986, the "Fanshan ruins," located in the vicinity of Liangzhu, revealed more than 10 excavation sites. More than 3000 jade objects were disinterred. "It caused a great sensation," says Wang Mingda. Liangzhu jade had cemented its position in the realm of archaeology.

Besides the Fanshan ruins, another important location for Liangzhu jade can be found in Yuhang County--the Yaoshan ruins. In 1987 more than 630 pieces of jade were uncovered there. Of all the relics recovered from these two sites, more than 90% were jade. This amounts to most of the Liangzhu jade found in the Jiangsu region. Because of this the area has drawn many foreign tourists. "After 1988, groups of Taiwanese visitors have arrived by the dozens," says Wang Mingda.

The tomb looters of Yaoshan:

As Liangzhu jade has become the focus of everyone's attention, its price has increasingly risen. But this has spawned a number of additional problems, such as robbing and selling off the jade, the notoriety of which can not be stopped.

Thanks to the actions of grave robbers, Yaoshan was hurriedly excavated in 1987. On April 30, 1987, a rumor spread that the old graveyard in Yaoshan held jade. A few thousand peasants gathered together, proceeding to pillage the tombs. It was reported that over 200 tombs were robbed at the time, until several days later, when police arrived to inspect, accompanied with experts on cultural artifacts. Many objects of jade had already gone missing. But after the police asked everyone to return the looted goods, the resulting wave of precious objects was astounding. On the last day for handing in the property, more than 300 pieces of jade appeared, including six tsungs.

According to available data, the Fanshan ruins have one grave site which yielded more than 200 pieces of jade. According to the latest estimates, Yaoshan turned up more than 600 articles. Who knows how many others were lost? Wang Mingda remarks that waiting until the graves were broken open before investigating them is like locking the stable when the horse has been stolen. "ls it so hard to hide little things like antique jade? Anywhere will do--a haystack, a bamboo chair, even a bunch of fruit," says Taiwanese antique collector Jeff Hsu. According to stories floating around Liangzhu Township, many artifacts have disappeared and are floating around unaccounted for. This often produces social problems and crimes, even in the peasant communities, because the treasures are divided unequally, are coveted by people, or are damaged.

Wang Mingda knows one such example. There was one peasant, a "criminal element" who stole a long jade pipe. Afterward, another peasant fell to coveting his pipe, and kidnapped the "criminal," taking him into the wilderness and demanding that he give up the stolen object. The "criminal" refused, and the covetous peasant still had no way of knowing its whereabouts. Finally, the two peasants reached an agreement, and sawed the jade pipe in two, each peasant getting a half to sell. Of course, this sadly resulted in the destruction of the pipe.

Artifacts woefully ruined:

Among the tales of grave looting in the mainland are stories of robbers who could not move Buddha statues, so they cut off the Buddha's head and carried it away. Similar acts of destruction in Liangzhu are not nearly as awful, but in terms of loss to archaeology, they amount to the same thing. Wang Mingda notes that some of the worst looters made a great mess of the grave site in order to hide the evidence of their theft, to avoid investigation by the authorities. Disturbing the grave site is equally as regrettable as the loss of the objects inside the graves. When relics are discovered without relation to the excavation area and its surrounding environment, their archaeological and historical value is damaged.

"In the midst of today's society that only thinks about money, economic forces are too strong to resist. Actually, we all are its victims." When touching on the issue of Liangzhu jade theft, Wang Mingda's voice takes on a tone of lament. In the past everyone was poor, and not so many people hoarded up relics. When peasants in the fields accidentally shoveled up an object of jade, most would just hand it in to the authorities. With the advent of reforms, the life of the people improved, but their hunger for possessions increased, too," says Wang Mingda, and he recalls that since the economic reforms of 1978, handing in Liangzhu jade is unheard of.

The increased numbers of jade lovers searching the soil has stimulated archaeologists, as well. The extent to which they cherish artifacts and love history is "more than anyone else in the mainland." But putting an emphasis on ancient artifacts requires certain conditions. "You've got to have people and money," Wang Mingda admits, though he does not like to dwell on the subject. All the manpower and money of the Zhejiang archaeological research units is being invested in scrambling to save the ruins being disturbed by construction. There is no time to boast of saving sites and archiving relics. "Piles and piles of research data have been stored away in warehouses, still waiting to be sorted and prepared for publication!"

Waiting to be cherished:

Inside the storehouse of the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, the method for saving excavated treasures, such as jade tsungs, is to wrap them up in white cloth, then place them in steel lunch boxes. Compared with the careful, meticulous storage methods of both public and private museums in Taiwan, this manner of collection is certainly crude. Wang Mingda, who has spent many years with these articles, explains with a little embarrassment, "These are still wrapped in the original packings they were put in at the time of excavation. They haven't been organized yet. I'm terribly sorry that we're mistreating the objects of ancient peoples like this."

Perhaps this task can not be accomplished so quickly. But all can rest assured that some day in the future these thousand-year-old treasures of Liangzhu jade will receive the heart-felt care and adoration they deserve, just like all famous ancient pieces of art in the world.

[Picture Caption]

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Peach trees, rice paddies, factories, houses. . . a commonplace scene in the Jiangsu-Zhejiang region, and it is the entire view of the Fanshan ruins. Nevertheless, the walled-in field in the center of this picture is where the famous Liangzhu jade was dug up.

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The special characteristic of the Liangzhu pi is its uniform brightness and transparency. Its crafting suggests a relation to such customs as the worship of the heavens, with the warding off of evil, and with ornamental burial of the dead.

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In the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, it is not permitted to photograph the precious Liangzhu jade- -at close range. This is the most typical form of Liangzhu jade the tsung. A beast with eyes of concentric circles adorns each of the four corners of this tsung. The ja de stone is translucent.

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The most famous of Fanshan artifacts, the "king of Tsung Jade." Carved with miniaturized etching techniques is a tiny god sporting a feather cap. The head wear of this god is similar to that of the buried person. Quite possibly this ornament copies the likeness of the deceased before his death.

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Four dragon heads adorn this bracelet. This pattern, known as Chi-you, appeared from the Hsia to Han dynasties.

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A three-pronged jade object excavated from Yaoshan. The upper part forms the Chinese character for "mountain." A hole has been drilled through the top; very likely this piece was meant to be worn as jewelry.

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A tapered pike excavated from Fanshan. The part closest to the bottom is decorated with animal faces.

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There are still several excavation sites in progress in Liangzhu towns hip. However, when artifacts are being disinterred, outside visitors arenot allowed to approach. Work was already in progress when the photo was taken.

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In front of the house with gray bricks and white walls, the summer ricehas already been harvested. The Jiangsu-Zhejiang region, usually known for its fish and r ice, formerly was not the focus of attention in the realm of archaeology.

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Whenever construction infringes on ancient ruins, work must cease immediately. The major task of the world of mainland archaeology in recent years is to "rescue" such ruins discovered by construction.

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When spring turns into summer in the Yangtze river valley, the peaches are already ripe.

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