This jade is published in Filippo Salviati 4000 YEARS OF CHINESE ARCHAIC JADES Edition Zacke, Vienna 2017, no. 189
龍頭玉璜- 東周, 春秋, 公元前6世紀-前5世紀
Each of the three pendants is carved with an identical image: two dragon heads in profile facing outwards are incised at the extremities, while the central portion of each huang is decorated with angular scrolls recalling the shape of the letters “C” and “S”. The entire contour of the three pendants is further decorated with regular notches while two small holes, which were drilled at each extremity just below the snout of the dragon, were made to suspend the huang. When hung, the extremities of these three ornaments would have been turned upwards. It is also possible that they were worn as separate pendants, combined together and with other elements to form elaborate pectorals. In stylistic terms, the decoration is reminiscent of the decorative vocabulary of the late Western Zhou period, though the stylized dragons heads and the use of geometric scroll-like motifs indicate an Eastern Zhou date, between the end of the Spring and Autumn period and the beginning of the following Warring States phase. The white, transparent jade used is of fine quality, though the surface is altered in many areas due to prolonged interment.
There are many excavated huang pendants that can be compared to the present set, several of which are reproduced in the volume “Zhongguo meishu quanji: Yuqi”. See for example nos. 83 and 84 for earlier Western Zhou prototypes and no. 95 is a good example of a huang dating to the initial phase of the Spring and Autumn period, carved with a decoration and notches similar to the three presented here. A further example in the same volume is pendant no. 102, whose surface is completely covered with the motif of a stylized dragon head in profile view. Finally, no. 116, excavated in 1978 from the tomb of Marquis Yi of the Zeng state, Hubei Province, illustrates a pair of huang joined together with gold wires. For a detailed description of this type of pendant, and how they were hung and composed in elaborate pectorals, see Rawson, “Chinese Jade”, no. 17:4, pp. 265 - 266 and the line drawing on p. 315, fig. 3, showing the elaborate pectorals comprising various huang which were found in situ in a late Western, early Eastern Zhou burial excavated at Sanmenxia, Henan Province. Still in the same volume the author discusses two more pendants of this type, nos. 17:5 and 17:6, whose contours are decorated with notches, as in the present example.
Provenance: From an old private Austrian-Chinese collection, acquired before 1980