Unraveling the Enigma of the Bi: The Spindle Whorl as the Model of the Ritual Disk

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1993
Authors
Green, Jean M.
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University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
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Abstract
This paper examines the question of the origin of the hi, a Chinese ritual or decorative flat disk with a relatively small hole in the middle, in the light of recent archaeological reports relating to the late Neolithic Liangzhu culture of southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang provinces. Other Chinese ritual jades possess tool prototypes. The hypothesis is that the bi and the discoidal whorl of the hand spindle are linked formally, contextually, and historically. In addition to the formal resemblance, the relationship of bi to textile implements, the correspondence of ritually smashed hi with broken whorls, significantly decorated whorls, and the possible ritual spinning of yarn are treated. The Liangzhu cemeteries at Yaoshan and Fanshan present an example of a possible sequence from a complete jade spindle and other jade whorls to small dragon-headed bi and, finally, to the large Liangzhu hi form. KEYWORDS: hi, spindle whorl, jade spindle whorl, Liangzhu, Changjiang River, Lake Tai, Yaoshan, Fanshan, Sidun, Fuquanshan, Caoxieshan, Zhejiang, Jiangsu.
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bi, spindle whorl, jade spindle whorl, Liangzhu, Changjiang River, Lake Tai, Yaoshan, Fanshan, Sidun, Fuquanshan, Caoxieshan, Zhejiang, Jiangsu
Citation
Green, J. M. 1993. Unraveling the Enigma of the Bi: The Spindle Whorl as the Model of the Ritual Disk. Asian Perspectives 32 (1): 105-24.
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