A large mottled brown jade nine-tier archaistic cong Ming dynasty or earlier | 明或更早期 青玉琮
Property from an important French private collection
A large mottled brown jade nine-tier archaistic cong
Ming dynasty or earlier
of cylindrical form with square projections on four corners, each corner carved with nine registers of stylized mask comprising twin bands of narrow parallel grooves and incised circular ‘eyes’, the greenish brown jade mottled and streaked
28.3 cm, 11⅛ in.
Cong archaïsant en jade brun, Chine, dynastie Ming ou antérieur
28.3 公分， 11⅛英寸
There is a ca. 6x2 cm chip to one upper corner and a ca. 2x1 cm shallow chip to another corner. A ca. 2 cm shallow chip to one rim.
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Acquired from Jean-Claude Moreau Gobard, 22nd December 1978.
於1978年12月22日得自Jean-Claude Moreau Gobard
Cong remain among the most enigmatic objects of early Chinese cultures. Generally shaped as cylinders that are round on the inside and square on the outside, they can vary enormously in height and diameter, ranging from wide, shallow bracelets to tall, narrow tubes. Their earliest occurrence has been established archeologically to the Neolithic period with the excavation of the Liangzhu culture stratum at the Caoxieshan site in Wuxian in 1973 and the discovery of the Tomb 3 of the same culture at Sidun, Wujin country in Jiangsu province in 1979 (excavated in 1982) (K.C. Chang, ‘An Essay on Cong’ in Chinese Jade. Selected Articles from Orientations 1983-2003, Hong Kong, 2005, p. 70-73) (fig.1).
Liangzhu cong were actually imitated or repurposed not only in other Neolithic cultures, but also for centuries thereafter. Fourteen cong were found in Lady Fu Hao's Shang dynasty tomb in Anyang in 1976 (K.C. Chang, ibid., p. 70), and scholars such as Max Loehr commonly dated them to the Western Zhou (11th century-770BC) or Eastern Zhou period (770-256), and this at least until the Liangzhu culture major archeological finds in 1973 and 1982 (K.C. Chang, ibid. p. 70, Julia K. Murray, 'Neolithic Chinese Jades in the Freer Gallery of Art', ibid. p.9, and Elinor Pearlstein, 'Salmony's catalogue of Sonnenschein Jades in the light of Recent Finds', ibid. pp. 130-140). This would also explains Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard dating of the present piece to the Eastern Zhou period in the certificate he wrote in 1978 (fig.2).
Archaic and archaistic jade cong in the Qing court collection were particularly appreciated by the Qianlong Emperor, who commissioned metal liners in order to turn the hollow tubes into flower vessels. Two of those vessels, a Liangzhu jade cong, later inscribed with a Qianlong imperial poem and fitted with a cloisonné enamel liner, albeit in the wrong direction with the faces inverted, and a brown jade archaistic cong very similar to the present piece, originally recorded as Han dynasty in the Qianlong archives, but now re-dated to the late Ming dynasty, are preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Jean-Paul Desroches ‘Ancient Jade- Its modification and Forgery under the Qianlong Emperor’ in Chinese Jade. Selected Articles from Orientations 1983-2003, Hong Kong, 2005, pp. 175-179, where the author also states that such revival pieces were not always intended to deceive but also classified as yuanxing in the court archive ('following the original model').
琮乃中華文化早期重器，深奧神秘，器型內圓外方，多為柱形，高度、尺寸變化甚鉅，可見寬、淺似臂釧者，亦有高、窄如管例。1973年草鞋山遺址良渚文化時期古墓首次出土玉琮，1979年江蘇江蘇省武進縣寺墩良渚文化3號墓發現玉琮（1982年出土），遂斷定此為新石器時代之物。（張光直，〈An Essay on Cong〉， 《Chinese Jade. Selected Articles from Orientations 1983-2003》，香港，2005年，頁70-73）（圖1）。不僅是新石器時代其他文化仿製或改用良渚玉琮，其後數世紀仍可見仿製或改用作例，如1976年河南安陽殷墟婦好墓出土十四件琮等（張光直，〈An Essay on Cong〉，前述出處，頁70）。 Max Loehr等學者多將玉琮斷代為西周（公元前十一世紀至 770年）或東周（ 770-256年），此說法一直維持至最少1973年及1982年良渚文化重要考古發現之時，（張光直， 前述出處，頁70，Julia K. Murray，‘Neolithic Chinese Jades in the Freer Gallery of Art'，前述出處，頁9及 Elinor Pearlstein，〈Salmony's catalogue of Sonnenschein Jades in the light of Recent Finds〉，前述出處，頁130-140）。Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard 1978年於證書上書寫本玉琮屬東周時期，相信亦因如此。（圖2）。
乾隆喜愛高古玉琮及仿古玉琮，曾命人製金屬內芯，製於玉琮中心以作花瓶用。比較兩良渚玉琮例，刻乾隆御製詩，倒置掐絲琺瑯內芯,另比一棕色仿古玉琮作例，與本品相近，乾隆宮廷檔案錄為漢代玉琮，現改為斷代晚明，台北故宮博物院珍藏，圖見Jean-Paul Desroches，〈Ancient Jade- Its modification and Forgery under the Qianlong Emperor 〉， 《Chinese Jade. Selected Articles from Orientations 1983-2003》，香港，2005年，頁175-179，作者論述，此類玉琮不一定為偽冒而製，宮廷檔案紀錄為原型。