Jade Discs

The Mysterious Origin of the Jade Discs

(Read the article on one page)

In ancient China, dating back to at least 5,000 BC, large stone discs were placed on the bodies of Chinese aristocrats.  Their original function still eludes scientists, as does the way in which they were made, considering they were carved out of Jade, an extremely hard rock.

Jade is a precious hardstone that is made of different silicate minerals and is often used to make vases, jewellery and other ornaments.  It is usually colourless, but contamination from other materials, such as chrome, normally gives it an emerald greenish colour, and it comes in two main types: nephrite and jadeite.  Given the hardness of the stone, Jade is an extremely difficult material to work with, which makes it perplexing as to why the ancient Neolithic inhabitants of China chose this stone.

The Jade Discs, often called bi discs, are round flat rings created from nephrite by the Liangzhu culture during the late Neolithic Period. They appear to have been very important to their society because they have been found  laid on the bodies of the dead in almost all important tombs of the Hongshan culture (3800 – 2700 BC), and carried on into the Liangzhu culture (3000 – 2000 BC). The stones were place in prominent positions on the body of the deceased, usually near the stomach or the chest, and often contained symbols relating to the sky. The Chinese word for jade is ‘YU’ which means pure, treasure, and noble.

Jade DiscSince they were made in a period of time in which no metal tools have been found, archaeologists believe they were probably made  through brazing and polishing - this would have taken an extraordinarily long time to achieve. So the obvious question here is, why would they go to so much effort?

It is logical to assume that the importance of these stone discs may be connected to their god or gods. Others have suggested that they are a representation of the sun or the wheel, reflecting the cyclic nature of life and death. During a war, the loser had to hand over the Jade Disks as a sign of submission to the conqueror, which shows the importance of the Jade stones and that they were not merely ornaments.

Some have suggested that the Jade Discs are related to the mysterious  story of the Dropa stones , also disc-shaped stones, which supposedly date back 12,000 years and were said to have been found in a cave in the mountains of Baian Kara-Ula on the border between China and Tibet.  Is it possible that the Liangzhu Jade stones are related to the Dropa stones? 

The Smithsonian Institute shows a great interest in Jade Discs and has invested a lot into researching them. Currently, they hold a collection of more then 150 of the disks.

Jade discs have been a puzzle to archaeologists for centuries, but because they were made in a period of time that no writing existed, their significance is still unknown to us and the question of what their significance was and why they were created remains unanswered.

By John Black

Related Links

Jade disc

The Jade Discs

The Mystery of the Jade Discs

Related Videos

Comments

Discs have been reportedly used for travel over a magnetic grid. Apparently, this grid is much less active in modern times except for some ley lines. Each person stood on his/her personal disc. Apparently, it worked on a similar principle to Japan's maglev train.

Sounds really good to me. Like it!

Tsurugi's picture

Since Sumer and Egypt are considered to have had fully developed writing systems around 3200 BC, I'm guessing you meant the discs were made in a period when no writing existed in China...?

Funny how yet again we see a priori assumptions based on prevailing theory(that they had no metal tools) win out over possibilities implied by the actual evidence(that they had metal tools and used them to make the discs).

I propose a compromise: prevailing theory is right, the Hongshan and Liangzhu cultures had no metal tools with which to work the discs...and yet the discs were made using metal tools, as the discs themselves suggest. The answer? The discs were relics of a much more ancient, more advanced culture, lost long before the Hongshu period but remembered and revered by them as a "time of the gods"...and at some point they found a great cache of these discs, so important people came to be buried each with a single disc to associate themselves with those gods, or perhaps even serve as a key or pass into the place of the gods.

Right? That should make everyone happy, yeah?

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Sealings from the archive of Doliche.
Classical scholars from the Cluster of Excellence "Religion and Politics" of the University of Münster discovered a large number of sealings in south-east Turkey. "This unique group of artifacts comprising more than 1,000 pieces from the municipal archive of the ancient city of Doliche gives many insights into the local Graeco-Roman pantheon -- from Zeus to Hera to Iuppiter Dolichenus

Myths & Legends

Deriv; Revelers dressed as Krampusin Austria
In ancient times, a dark, hairy, horned beast was said to show up at the door to beat children, and carry them off in his sharp claws. The Krampus could be heard in the night by the sound of his...

Human Origins

Sumerian creation myth
Sumer , or the ‘land of civilized kings’, flourished in Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, around 4500 BC. Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and...

Ancient Places

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article