China’s Liangzhu Culture

This week in the Serious Fun class our 3rd – 8th graders studied neolithic China’s Liangzhu culture (ca. 3300-2200 BC) and the early artifacts they produced. The Liangzhu culture is noted for two very interesting pieces of art made out of jade: the cong and the bi. A Bi is a jade disc with a hole in the middle, sometimes intricately decorated, sometimes smooth and simple. Congs are cylinders of varying length and width, that are square on the outside with a circular hole through the center, often more elaborately engraved than the bi. The artifacts are often found in burials and though the Liangzhu culture left no indication of what they represent, later cultures in China associated the bi with heaven and the cong with the earth.

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After learning about the two artifacts and playing the forgery game, the students drew one of the congs. Inscribing a circular hole inside a square frame and getting it to look 3D is harder than it looks, but the kids made a great effort.


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