T

China Scenic - - Covers -

he pat­tern on our fi­nal cover comes from China’s Liangzhu Cul­ture in Yuhang Dis­trict of Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang Prov­ince — a Ne­olithic cul­ture dates back to 5,000 years ago. In 1986, ar­chae­ol­o­gists un­earthed a large jade ar­ti­fact weigh­ing 6.5 kilo­grams, known as cong (a cylin­der jade con­tainer for sac­ri­fi­cial cer­e­mony) at Fan­shan Site in Yuhang. How­ever, what as­ton­ished peo­ple was not the size or weight of this fine jade ar­ti­fact, but the pat­tern on it — a man with lav­ish head­wear and his arms bend­ing down­wards, be­low him there is a fierce look­ing an­i­mal, a beast, with wide- open eyes, fear­some teeth and sharp claws. Such pat­tern did not oc­cur merely on the large jade alone, but on other ar­ti­facts like pot­ter­ies. Given this fact, one could in­fer that this pat­tern must car­ried some sig­nif­i­cant mean­ings for those an­cient res­i­dents of Liangzhu, and that is also the point on which de­bates fo­cus — even af­ter decades of re­search, ar­chae­ol­o­gists haven’t yet reached agree­ment on what does this pat­tern tell and what kind of the de­picted an­i­mal is. One dom­i­nant hy­poth­e­sis is that the man in the pat­tern was not an or­di­nary one, but a man of God — a shaman who is be­stowed with imag­in­able mag­i­cal power and hence he was able to make the beast — prob­a­bly a tiger, the most fierce an­i­mal that has long been con­sid­ered as “the king of all an­i­mals” in Chi­nese cul­ture, yield. Thus, based on that the pat­tern should be named “man of God and an­i­mal-face pat­tern”. Shrouded in mys­ter­ies, the pat­tern has be­come the mark of Liangzhu Cul­ture — one of the most dis­tinc­tive cul­tures, even if not the ear­li­est, of the Ne­olithic- era China. No mat­ter which hy­poth­e­sis is cor­rect, the fine and vivid de­tails of the pat­tern have in­deed re­flected the re­mark­able skills mas­tered by pre­his­toric peo­ple, and that was why we chose it. The other cover op­tions are: No. 1 & 2: the sea charge sac­ri­fi­cial rite of Fuye Vil­lage, Fu­jian No. 3: farm­lands of Sichuan at the day of Lixia No. 4: Kazakh herds­men of Xin­jiang har­vest­ing wheat No. 5: an­cient city of Kaifeng in the set­ting sun No. 6 & 7: crater lakes in Arxan-chaihe Re­gion No. 8 & 9: the ser­pe­tine Tong­tian River No. 10: the an­cient town of Pingyao at the day of Lichun No. 11: ripe per­sim­mons in late au­tumn.

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