Circular ornament (huan), China, Warring States Period


Circular ornament (huan), China, Warring States Period (approx. 480-221 BCE). Nephrite. T. 3/16 in x Diam. 2 1/4 in. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60J760 © 2017 Asian Art Museum Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture.

Examples of the traditional repertoire of ritual objects of the Neolithic period, such as bi and cong, are very rare in excavated materials from the Shang dynasty to the beginning of the Warring Sates period. Changes in ritual and burial practice, and new attitudes toward the material seem to have much to do with this; a possible shortage of material to make these larger objects must also be taken into consideration. However, from the mid to late Warring States and through much of the Western Han, bi in particular make a strong reappearance. However, not all of these examples served as ritual objects and many seem to have simply been another part of large pendant sets. These ring shaped objects are known as huan and usually smaller in size than the bi.

This piece has an unusual asymmetric shape. The outer edge is interrupted by eight rectangular slots while the central hole has seven slots. Thus these slots only line up completely at one position on the huan. The surface decoration consists of large numbers of small spiral patterns. In contrast to most decor of this type and of this period, these are cut below the surface, rather than raised, and are not well finished or polished.

The piece is cut from a yellow Khotan jade with large cloudy brown areas. The surface is stained in a number of areas; the most prominent stains are whitish in color.

1. Yang, no. 200 (decor?)
2. Loehr, plate 350
3. Zhongguo Yuqi Chuanji, vol 3, p. 188, plate 296 (left)
4. Wen Wu, 1974, no. 11, p. 76, no. 24
5. Lam, plate 168 (left)

Exhibition History"Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998