Kuei tablet

Late Neolithic early Shang (22nd - 14th centuries B.C.)
Length; 30.6 cm Width: 7.2 cm Thickness: 1.25 cm

The shape of the jade kuei tablet derived from the stone axe, and was used by the nobility as a symbol of their social status. The middle section on one side of this kuei is decorated with a realistic depiction of an eagle, carted in low-relief. On the other side we find an abstract mask, bearing a headdress of phoenix feathers. The lines are fluid and elegant, and the decoration probably bears ancient totemistic meaning. The round seal-mark above and the inscription below were added much later in the Ch'ing dynasty by the Ch'ien4ung emperor (r. A.D. 1736-1795).

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