Temixwten Artifact: 45-WH-5-1691
Description: BEHOLD the White Horse Dragon!
The only adornment on this dramatic blade is the rearing neck and head of the White Dragon on the face of the One-Eyed God, as in the first charm in The God That Man Forgot exhibit.
This same motif -- the head and neck of a dragon curving over the face of god, in this case, a C-dragon -- is also visible in a Hongshan jade pendant in the Stutzman Collection at Cornell University (see photo at right).
Interestingly, 45-WH-5-1691 seems to show the One-Eyed God with a Caucasian eye, formed here by the fire from the White Dragon's mouth. The One-Eyed God is also depicted with a full, heavy Caucausian beard on several artifacts from Temixwten, such as 45-WH-5-1506, 45-WH-5-1476 and 45-WH-5-1415.
And turned sideways, the White Dragon becomes the halter and lead rope for some sort of horned animal, probably a domesticated goat. Like 45-WH-5-1491, 45-WH-5-1655, and especially 45-WH-5-1419 -- which shows both the domesticated bull and boar on the same blade -- 45-WH-5-1691 pairs the dragon with the first domestication of animals.
Halters are seen on many Temixwten pieces -- both charms and tools -- including 45-WH-5-1647, and 45-WH-5-1556, and
45-WH-5-1491. And 45-WH-5-1647 and 45-WH-5-1586 also depict the dragon as the check piece on a halter, in this case the most important domesticated animal of all, the horse.
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HERE IT appears the dramatic White Dragon has been created with a Kaolin slip, a flake of which is missing in the middle of the dragon's nose, revealing the naked grey claybody beneath.
White Kaolin clay -- commonly called "China clay" -- is the material that made possible China's stupendous production of fine porcelain over the last three millennia. Kaolinite is found on all temperate continents, but it is best known for one deposit in northern China that it gives it its name. There sometime in the late Neolithic, anonymous potters began using the bone white Kaolin clay in ceramics. This was the beginning of the long and winding road road to Ming Dynasty porcelain because Kaolin clay is essential for the production of fine white porcelain, long considered the apogee of synthetic stone.
Spode, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton were all in the far, far distant future, though, when the piece was made. Here Kaolin clay is merely used as a way to achieve bright white on small charms, ceremonial objects and tools made of synthetic stone in the time before the invention of fully vitrified ceramic glazes.
The rest of 45-WH-5-1691 is uniformly blackened on the surface, and some of the black is slightly glossy on raised areas, as if it was black fired in the kiln, or polished by handling or wear in some fashion.
The chipped edges indicate that the piece conchoidally. The black color appears to run through the claybody, and may be magnetite.
There are parallel incised marks running along one entire side in both black white areas.
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LIKE ALL the ceramic artifacts included in The God That Man Forgot, this piece helps time the rise of the Salish in what we now call the Pacific Northwest, beginning 7,000 or more years ago.
Both C-dragon and pig dragon charms have been found at Temixwten, indicating that the Salish migrations out of Asia to the Pacific Northwest began before the domestication of the horse became a huge, world changing development.
However, based on the evidence at Temixwten, it apears that there was a much bigger influx of immigrants to Temixwten after the domestication of the horse, maybe 6,600 years ago, and then another influx during the early Dynastic Period in China, maybe 3,500 years ago, at the dawn of glazed ceramic stoneware in China and Northeast Asia.
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NOTE: Because the Chinese apparently do not possess any stoneware from the earliest lithic phase of their long and glorious history of ceramic manufacture (namely from the very beginning when stoneware was an exciting new material for making stone tools), I believe that the Asian-made ceramic pieces in the Museum of the Salish collection are the oldest Chinese ceramic stoneware artifacts ever found anywhere in the world, including China.
Furthermore, I believe the white Kaolin slip on 45-WH-5-1641, 45-WH-5-1691, 45-WH-5-1629 and 45-WH-5-1632 is the oldest known use of Kaolin in Chinese ceramics.
Technology: ceramic stoneware sculpted when leather hard, black fired, and then fired a second time with a white Kaolin clay slip.
Approximate Age: 6,500 years years ago.
Basis for Age Estimate: I base this age estimate on the appearance the white dragon with a long, stylized horse snout, rather than the earlier C-dragon or pig dragon form of the dragon seen in the early Hongshan Period (roughly 7,000 years ago). By the late Hongshan, the dragon with the long horse snout had appeared, and with it the motif of the dragon's curving neck and head on the face of the One-Eyed God, seen on many artifacts from Temixwten, as well as the Neolithic Hongshan Culture Pig Dragon pendant from the Shatzman Collection at Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art cited above.
The figure of the domesticated goat complicates the calculations, however. It is not known when goats and sheep were domesticated in China, but there is evidence at Ganj Dareh, in what is now Iran, that goats may have been domesticated in the Middle East as early as 10,000 years ago. At the very least, it seems likely that sheep and goats -- like the pig and the dog -- were domesticated earlier than the horse.
The focus on the goat suggests some northern, non-Chinese tradition and place of manufacture, but not as far north as the Aleut-flavored 45-WH-5-1205.
Provenance: Collected at Temixwten by the property owner. Museum of the Salish Collection.
Same Motif: this Neolithic Hongshan Culture Pig Dragon pendant from the Shatzman Collection at Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art shows the same motif seen on Temixwten artifacts like 45-WH-5-1655, where the head and curving neck of a smaller dragon form the eye socket of the larger figure.