, Hangzhou, December 6th. Title: Zhejiang Cultural Observation: What does the Liangzhu Jade Artifact Niaoli Gaotai Symbol mean?

  Reporter Xie Panpan

  Among the large number of jade articles unearthed at the Liangzhu site, bird decorations appear frequently. What do these birds imply? Is it the patron saint of Liangzhu?

Why does the platform icon use three steps?

  The reporter recently visited Ma Dongfeng, the executive director of Liangzhu Museum (Liangzhu Research Institute), to get a glimpse of the thousand-year-old symbol "password".

  The site of Liangzhu Ancient City located in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province is known as "the first city in China". Liangzhu Ancient City is the power and belief center of a regional early state in the region around Taihu Lake in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China.

Liangzhu Ancient City Ruins is the fourth batch of national key cultural relics protection units, approved to be included in the World Heritage List.

  Five thousand years ago, the ancestors of Liangzhu created a system of jade ritual vessels including jade bi, jade cong, and jade axe.

The magnificent scenes of using jade in the tombs of the Liangzhu Culture show that the spiritual beliefs carried by jade articles such as Cong, Yue and Bi were widely recognized at that time.

  Cangbi pays homage to heaven, and Huang Cong pays homage to earth.

In today's Liangzhu Museum, jade cong and jade bi are also typical jade wares of the Liangzhu culture period.

Liangzhu Culture Carved Jade Bi (Reverse) Photo courtesy of Liangzhu Museum

  In particular, as the treasure of the Liangzhu Museum, the engraved jade bi is placed in a separate showcase.

  To this day, a small bird can still be seen on the top of the jade disc. The bird is standing on the side with its head folded and its wings folded on the three-step stepped platform.

  Ma Dongfeng said that jade bi is one of the most representative artifacts among the jade ritual vessels of the Liangzhu culture. These special pictographs often appeared on the jade wares of the late Liangzhu culture, which we call the "Niao Li Gaotai" pattern.

  What is strange is that most of the high platform icons have figures that resemble humans and birds in the internal depiction, as if with open hands and looking up at the sky.

  Ma Dongfeng said that some scholars have speculated that the figure that looks like a human and a bird may represent the image of a wizard.

In the ancient Egyptian civilization at the same time as Liangzhu, a similar icon was also found. It was the name of Pharaoh Jeter of the first dynasty of ancient Egypt. It was composed of a bird shape and a table shape. is the king's name.

"The appearance of similar symbols in the two ancient civilizations shows that this coincidence also just proves that at the beginning of the birth of the early state society, there were some similarities between Chinese and Western cultures, especially in the understanding of ideology and religion."

  According to his speculation, the human-like and bird-like figures inside the Niaoli Gaotai may represent the names or images of the rulers at that time.

The upper part of the high base presents a three-step flat-topped platform, which is presumed to be an altar with a sacred and special status.

Liangzhu culture engraved talisman jade bibill courtesy of Liangzhu Museum

  Since the sun plays an important role in human production and life, sun worship has always occupied a dominant place in the religious concepts of primitive ancestors in China.

  Ma Dongfeng believes that the ancient Egyptian civilization used the shape of a bird to represent gods. In the Liangzhu civilization, the bird's ability to fly was regarded as a messenger to communicate with heaven and earth, and it was also considered a symbol of the sun. Worshiping it expresses the worship of the sun , of course, is also considered to be related to images such as "Babel" in archaeology.

  Interestingly, in all the pictorial representations of the bird stand high platform, there are three steps, and the steps gradually narrow and increase from bottom to top. Why is the number of steps three instead of other numbers?

  "I don't know clearly." Ma Dongfeng generously admitted that he believed that the Liangzhu civilization was still in the process of being deciphered, and that history could only be interpreted with the later history, and the three steps may represent the meaning of heaven, earth and man.

  In Chinese history, the element of "three" is indispensable in many sacrificial offerings.

For example, the sacrificial building - the Circular Mound in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing is a three-story dome building; for example, in the Confucian Temple, the most important procedure for offering sacrifices to Confucius is the "three offerings".

Ma Dongfeng believes that although the Liangzhu civilization disappeared, it was actually integrated into the main development of Chinese civilization.