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Two Jade Bi

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Jade25 of 94Chinese Jade(?) Stamp Seal Chop Shoushan Whatever Jade vase
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Posted 1 year ago


(83 items)

Nephrite jade bi (or pi) with carved dragon and coins, engraved reverse.
2 ½” dia., ½” thick overall. Weight 75.30 g.

Translucent green nephrite jade bi (or pi) with brown inclusions. 2 3/8” dia. x 1/8” thick with 1” hole and 124 raised spirals per side.

Traditionally the bi disc is regarded as a ceremonial object associated with the worship of the heavens, comonly found in burials. The intent or purpose is not understood.


  1. jwendell222, 1 year ago
    Vetraio, aghcollect, rhinoman, thanks very much for the kind attention, best wishes, Jim
  2. davezquanw davezquanw, 1 year ago
    The one with the Chi Long is a bi disc, but not the other piece with spirals. Should be a huan instead due to the difference in hole size.

    Pretty alright modern replicas given the material and mostly artificial surface alteration.
  3. jwendell222, 1 year ago
    Dave, There’s not a lot of information available on huan disks. I found one online at the Harvard Art Museum, 11” dia., 5” hole, and another at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 4 7/16’. hole 3 3/8”, both white and without ornamentation. These don’t remotely resemble mine. However, there are several with large holes in the below references that do, and they are referred to as Bi. It would seem that hole size is not a criteria for defining Bi.

    Ancient China P. 182-3, Maurizio Scarpari, 2000, Barnes & Noble.
    National Museum of China P. 146, Lu Zangshen, Editor, 2011, London Editions.
    The Chinese Collection P. 134, John Finlay, 2003, Norton Museum of Art.

    Regards, Jim
  4. davezquanw davezquanw, 1 year ago
    Basically, the middle hole diameter of a bi disc should not exceed half length of the diameter of the outer circle of the object. Beyond that, it can be considered a huan. Perhaps being mindful on the reliability of references would be wise. Plenty of Chinese jade books have no idea what they are saying because they simply wish to sell the book. Period.

    No good feeling on your pieces. The first give-aways would be the material and carved lines. Good luck and collectors beware.
  5. jwendell222, 1 year ago
    The National Museum of Taiwan has an exhibit as follows: A jade disk whose hole diameter is 55 per cent of the outside diameter. It is described thus:
    ‘A Pi, symbol of the circular sky or heaven. The hole in the center corresponds to the lie-chhiu through which the lightening flashes. From Chou times onwards the Pi was used in ritual by the king, called the ‘Son of Heaven’ because as long as he remained virtuous heaven bestowed on him its mandate to rule the earth, This Pi, decorated with a green pattern, may have been used for the investiture of a prince, Huan ritual object.”
    Source: Chinese Mythology, Anthony Christie, 1968, Hamlyn Publishing Group

    So, it would seem the the terms ‘bi’ and ‘huan’ are not mutually exclusive.

    The references that I cited are not 'jade books', but rather somewhat prestigious publications covering a broad spectrum of Chinese art.
  6. Elisabethan Elisabethan, 1 year ago
    The Ashmolean museum in Oxford has a nice jade section. You can see some of it online. There are som of those there. I think they have more though as far as I can remember. Maybe you could write them and enclose a photo of yours and ask for an opinion/information.
  7. jwendell222, 1 year ago
    Hi Elisabethan, Wow!! Thank you so much. I spent an hour browsing the Yousef Jameel Center including the jades. And there is so much else there of interest that I'll be spending much more time browsing. It's bookmarked of course and thank you again for pointing me at this most valuable resource. Warmest regards, jim

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