The Hongshan culture (simplified Chinese: 红山文化; traditional Chinese: 紅山文化; pinyin: Hóngshān wénhuà) was a Neolithic culture in northeastern China. Hongshan sites have been found in an area stretching from Inner Mongolia to Liaoning, and dated from about 4700 to 2900 BC.
The culture is named after Hongshanhou (simplified Chinese: 红山後; traditional Chinese: 紅山後; pinyin: Hóngshānhòu), a site in Hongshan District, Chifeng. The Hongshanhou site was discovered by the Japanese archaeologist Torii Ryūzō in 1908 and extensively excavated in 1935 by Kōsaku Hamada and Mizuno Seiichi.
In northeast China, Hongshan culture was preceded by Xinglongwa culture (6200-5400 BCE), Xinle culture (5300-4800 BCE), and Zhaobaogou culture, which may be contemporary with Xinle and a little later and the culture was followed by the
- REDIRECT lower Xiajiadian culture 夏家店下層文化
(c. 2200–1600 BC) and
- REDIRECT upper Xiajiadian culture 夏家店上層文化
(c. 1000-600 BC).
Hongshan burial artifacts include some of the earliest known examples of jade working. The Hongshan culture is known for its jade pig dragons and embryo dragons. Clay figurines, including figurines of pregnant women, are also found throughout Hongshan sites. Small copper rings were also excavated.
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. 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. 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.
It has been suggested that religious sacrifice might have been performed within the Hongshan culture.
Just as suggested by evidence found at early Yangshao culture sites, Hongshan culture sites also provide the earliest evidence for feng shui. The presence of both round and square shapes at Hongshan culture ceremonial centers suggests an early presence of the gaitian cosmography ("round heaven, square earth").
Early feng shui relied on astronomy to find correlations between humans and the universe.
Emergence of complex societies
Some Chinese archaeologists such as Guo Da-shun see the Hongshan culture as an important stage of early Chinese civilization. And despite the claims made by some more Chinese scholars such as Chang, Lin, Tian, just name a few, apart from those who blindly devoted to the Northeast Project that Hongshan culture is strongly related to Xia, Shang, Zhou, the Hongshan cultures have abundant un-Chinese traits. Settlements types including walls and house, and religious or ceremonial installments, burial types, pottery, and sociopolitical aspects of the Hongshan are not results of diffusion from Zhongyuan. On the contrary, some of the Hongshan traits are precedents of Zhongyuan. For example, drilled and prepared before heating of oracle bones of the lower Xiajiadian Culture can be thought to be diffused from Shang, but this only was practiced later during the Shang period, in fact it diffused from north to south. As such the true meaning of the Hongshan culture as complex societies can be best grasped seen from the wider region from Central Asia to the Korean peninsula rather than scanty and marginal interactions with the Zhongyuan.
-  Timeline posted by National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
- Hamada, Kosaku and Mizuno Seiichi. "Chifeng Hongshanhou," Archaeologia Orientalis, ser. A, No. 6. Far-Eastern Archaeology Society of Japan, (1938).
- Hongshan Culture - The Jade Trade
- Please refer to Niuheliang.
- Sites of Hongshan Culture: The Niuheliang Archaeological Site, the Hongshanhou Archaeological Site, and Weijiawopu Archaeological Site unesco.org
-  Article by National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
-  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.
-  Exhibition Brochure, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
-  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.
- 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.
- Nelson, Sarah (1994). "The Development of Complexity in Prehistoric Northern China" (PDF). sino-platonic papers. sino-platonic.org. Retrieved 18 09 2016. Check date values in:
- Shelach, Gideon (1994). "Social Complexity in North China during the Early Bronze Age: A Comparative Study of the Erlitou and Lower Xiajiadian Cultures". Asian Perspectives. 33 (2). Check date values in:
- Guo, Da-Shun 1995. Hongshan and related cultures. In: The archaeology of Northeast China: beyond the Great Wall. Nelson, Sarah M. ed. 21-64. London and New York: Routledge.
-  Roger Blench(2004), Stratification in the peopling of China: how far does the linguistic evidence match genetics and archaeology? p.9
- Y Chromosome analysis of prehistoric human populations in the West Liao River Valley, Northeast China
- Geographic locations and the Y-chromosome haplogroup distribution of prehistoric populations in this study
- 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
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