Ritual Disc (Bi)
Artist/maker unknown, Chinese
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Neolithic and archaic jades have been collected and treasured in China since antiquity. Jade discs are referred to as bi (pronounced bee) if the central hole is smaller than the radius of the body. Their use in Neolithic times is unknown, but in later ritual texts these discs were thought to symbolize heaven, and also served as symbols of rank. Displaying such a bi was particularly meaningful for an emperor, the “Son of Heaven,“ as it would have referred not only to antiquity but also to the ideals of rulership.
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