ST-06011 Bluish white jade cong with design of Chi dragon, Song dynasty (960-1279)

Width: 12.5 cm, Height: 24.2 cm, Mouth diameter: 9.3 cm, Thickness: 3.5 cm, Weight: 6350 g.


Archaeologist deduced that the bi was the sacrifice for heaven and the cong was for the earth among ritual wares. When putting jade bi on top of jade cong, both jade pieces had run-through in the center hole. In this case, the ancients hoped to interlink heaven and the earth in order to pray for blessing of favorable weather through the ritual wares. 

The jade cong is a hollow pillar with square exterior and round interior. It was a ritual ware for memorializing ancestors or gods. The jade cong presented not only ritual ware but symbol of power and status. 

Jade cong was very popular in the Neolithic Age. However, it was rarely seen in Han dynasty (206 B.C. 260 A.D.), and became less afterward. From Song dynasty (960-1279) to Qing dynasty (1644-1911), imitation of jade cong recurred. Thus, this jade cong was a distinct curio in the style of ancient piece while in Song dynasty. 

This cuboid jade cong had characteristics of quadrate exterior, round interior, hollow hole, and She part which was the protruding part of interior cylinder above exterior cube. The exterior wall was carved with twelve Chi dragons. Each square side contained two big Chi dragons and one small Chi dragon. 

The Chi dragon had bow-shaped body, eyebrows of linked intaglio lines, two intaglio decorations in half-moon shape on forehead, and guttiform eyes. The curl tail of Chi dragon forked into one short tail and one long tail that showed rope decoration. The big Chi dragon had fist-like claws and thin calves with carving of dense hair.  Its creeping legs had joints in hook decoration and physique in small intaglio decoration for presenting vividness and powerful beauty. In Song dynasty, there were many jade wares with decoration of auspicious patterns. This jade cong had meaning of hoping one’s children will have a bright future.

In Song dynasty, there was a trend of modeling after an antique. Decoration of Chi dragon from this period had the most distinct feature that was the crooked joints of four legs in square shape. Besides, the face of Chi dragon presented slight triangle shape and facial features were concentrated about half area of the face. These were features of Chi dragon decoration in Song dynasty. 

Reference (Chi decoration of Song dynasty and jade cong):

1. Niu, Fu-zhon. Treasure Appraisal- Appraisement Principles and Market Evaluation of Jade Article, Part I, Beijing: Heilongjiang Art, p.194.

2. Xue, Gui-sheng. Appreciation of Chinese Jade, Shanghai: Shanghai Science Technique, Feb. 2000, p.24.

3. Xie, Tian-yu. Collection and Appraisal of Chinese Carving, Part I, Tianjing: Tianjing Gu Ji, Nov. 2004, p.478.

The bluish white jade cong showed partial whiteness as fish belly and some cinnabar ooze-color. On its surface, there were soil erosion, cracks, and common furry veins which were linear veins as very thin furs.  

Reference (Cracks):

1. Xue, Gui-sheng. Appreciation of Chinese Jade, Shanghai: Shanghai Science Technique, Feb. 2000, p.419.


The jade piece demonstrated multi-layered modeling and Chi dragon in high relief on top layer. Each exterior side was divided into two parties by a deep rut in the center. The corner showed simple human-face decoration. There were 12 sets of human-face decorations. Two circles on both sides of corner represented human eyes. The pattern composed of angle edge as central line, canthus in intaglio lines and short horizontal line as nose below the eyes. The round eyes were carved without fluency and showed square curve.

(Simple human-face decoration )

(Round eye of human-face decoration )

There were one large Chi dragon and one small Chi dragon on jade cong. They both were engraved with two intaglio patterns in half-moon shape. The limbs of large Chi dragon performed hair by tiny intaglio lines.