Hongshan culture

The Hongshan culture (zh-stp|s=红山文化|t=紅山文化|p=hóngshān wénhuà) was a Neolithic culture in northeastern China. Hongshan sites have been found in an area stretching from Inner Mongolia to Liaoning and Hebei, and dated from about 4700 BC to 2900 BC. [ [http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/chbro_chron.shtm] Timeline posted by National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.]

The culture is named after Hongshanhou (zh-stp|s=红山後|t=紅山後|p=hóngshānhòu), a site in Hongshan District, Hongshan District, Chifeng. The Hongshanhou site was discovered by the Japanese archaeologist Torii Ryūzō in 1908 and extensively excavated in 1935 by Hamada Kosaku and Mizuno Seiichi.


Hongshan grave goods include some of the earliest known examples of Chinese jade working; the Hongshan culture is known for its jade pig dragons. Clay figurines, including figurines of pregnant women, are also found throughout Hongshan sites.


Small copper rings were excavated. [ [http://www.thejadetrade.com/ian/p1b.html Hongshan Culture - The Jade Trade] ]


The archaeological site at Niuheliang is a unique ritual complex associated with the Hongshan culture.

Excavators have discovered an underground temple complex -- which included an altar -- and also cairns in Niuheliang.Please refer to Niuheliang.] The temple was constructed of stone platforms, with painted walls. Archaeologists have given it the name "Goddess Temple" due to the discovery of a clay female head with jade inlaid eyes. It was an underground structure, 1m deep. [http://whc.unesco.org/pg_friendly_print.cfm?id=141&cid=326&] UNESCO State Bureau of Cultural Relics.] Included on its walls are mural paintings.

Housed inside the "Goddess Temple" are clay figurines as large as three times the size of real-life humans. The exceedingly large figurines are possibly deities, but for a religion not reflective in any other Chinese culture. [http://www.nga.gov/education/chinatp_sl01.htm] Article by National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.]

The existence of complex trading networks and monumental architecture (such as pyramids and the "Goddess Temple") point to the existence of a "chiefdom" [http://www.pitt.edu/~chifeng/text.html] University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: "Regional Lifeways and Cultural Remains in the Northern Corridor: Chifeng International Collaborative Archaeological Research Project." Cited references: Drennan 1995; and Earle 1987, 1997.] in these prehistoric communies.

Painted pottery was also discovered within the temple. Over 60 nearby tombs have been unearthed, all constructed of stone and covered by stone mounds, frequently including jade artifacts. [ [http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/chbro_preh.shtm] "Exhibition Brochure," National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.]

Cairns were discovered atop two nearby two hills, with either round or square stepped tombs, made of piled limestone. Tombed inside were sculptures of dragons and tortoises.

It has been suggested that religious sacrifice might have been performed within the Hongshan culture.

Feng shui

Just as suggested by evidence found at early Yangshao culture sites, Hongshan culture sites also provide the earliest evidence for Feng shui.Please refer to Feng shui.] The presence of both round and square shapes at Hongshan culture ceremonial centers suggests an early presence of the gaitian cosmography (heaven-round, earth-square). [ [http://portfolio.du.edu/portfolio/getportfoliofile?uid=38863] Sarah M. Nelson, Rachel A. Matson, Rachel M. Roberts, Chris Rock and Robert E. Stencel: "Archaeoastronomical Evidence for Wuism at the Hongshan Site of Niuheliang," 2006.]

Early Feng shui relied on astronomy to find correlations between humans and the universe. [Sun, X. (2000) Crossing the Boundaries between Heaven and Man: Astronomy in Ancient China. In H. Selin (ed.), "Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy." 423-454. Kluwer Academic.]

ee also

* List of Neolithic cultures of China


* Allan, Sarah (ed), "The Formation of Chinese Civilization: An Archaeological Perspective", ISBN 0-300-09382-9
* Chang, Kwang-chih. "The Archaeology of Ancient China", ISBN 0-300-03784-8
* Nelson, Sarah Milledge (ed), "The Archaeology of Northeast China: Beyond the Great Wall", ISBN 0-415-11755-0

External links

* [http://english.nmgnews.com.cn/eng/article/20050110/450_1.html One study of Hongshan culture]
* [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hongshan/ Discussion of Hongshan culture]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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