Period: Neolithic period, Hongshan culture (ca. 3500–2000 B.C.)

Culture: China

Medium: Jade (nephrite)

Dimensions: H. 2 7/8 in. (7.3 cm); W. 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm)

Classification: Jade

Credit Line: Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 2009

Accession Number: 2009.176


The Hongshan culture, from which this plaque comes, remained unknown until the 1980s. Centered in northeastern China, it is known for large ceremonial structures built with rocks, graves lined with stone slabs, and distinctively shaped jades that were often the sole goods found in tombs. Judging from the holes on its back and on the top center, this piece may have been an ornament, however its exact function cannot be deciphered until more archaeological evidence becomes available.