Thought to prevent the entry of evil or destructive influences, jades have also served an important burial function. Particularly during the Han dynasty, jades in various forms were placed in the mouth, hands, ears, nostrils and other orifices of the deceased. Tongue amulets were typically made in the shape of a cicada, perhaps because the life cycle of the cicada was seen as symbolic of renewed life. This tongue amulet is however carved in a rare abstract form, only its shape is reminiscent of a cicada.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, December 2007.
Place where the work was made
Han dynasty 206 BCE - 220 CE → China
greyish-white jade with stains of red pigment
4.4 x 1.8 x 0.8 cm
Gift of Mary and Henry Fung 2007
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–28 Feb 2016