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Eurojade - Le Spécialiste du Jade - The Jade Specialist


A "bi" or "pi" disc is a flat jade disc with a circular hole in the centre. The original function and significance of the bi are unknown, as the Neolithic cultures have left no written history. From these earliest times they were buried with the dead, as a sky symbol, accompanying the dead into the after world or "sky", with the cong which connected the body with the earth.They were placed ceremonially on the body in the grave of persons of high social status. Bi are sometimes found near the stomach and chest in neolithic burials. 

The "bi" or "pi" disks have been named after the transcription from Chinese into English made par the British Thomas Francis Wade in the 19 th century.

Jade, like bi disks, has been used throughout Chinese history to indicate an individual of moral quality, and has also served as an important symbol of rank.

Traditions associate the bi with heaven, and the cong with the earth. Bi disks are consistently found with heaven and earth-like imagery, suggesting that the disk's circular shape also bears symbolic significance.

They were used in worship and ceremony : as ceremonial items they symbolised the ranks of emperor, king, duke, marquis, viscount, and baron.

Neolithic bi are undecorated, while those of later periods of China, like the Zhou dynasty (11th to 205 BC), bear increasingly ornate surface carving (particularly in a hexagonal pattern). The motifs represented deities associated with the sky (four directions). The bi disks belonging to the leaders of the defeated forces were handed over to the victorious warrior as a sign of submission.

The design of the reverse side of the medals given in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China is based on bi disks.