In China, jade is believed to have special properties. For centuries, green jade has been associated with rainwater, and plants, including crops such as corn.
Among its many art forms and art products, China is famous for its jade and hand held scrolls, just as Japan is famous for ikebana vases and the art of ikebana.
bi disk is one of the oldest jade forms. The bi jade form is round and
flat, and has a hole in the center. Some bi jade forms have carvings on
them for decoration, while others are simple and have no adorning
sculptures. Dragons are one of the popular sculptures found on bi disks.
can see examples of these disks at the British Museum. Some of the
pieces are inscribed with poetry. The disc in the image above is
inscribed with a poem that was written by the Qianlong emperor. He was
known as a collector of antiquities.
Many of the jade forms that
came from the emperor's collection were marked with his seal or with his
thoughts on the artwork. In the Hongshan culture, jade discs were
placed on the bodies of the dead. They formed an important part of the
final ceremony when a person passed from life to death.
Source: Britishmuseum.org, "Jade Bi", http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/asia/j/jade_bi_with_poe.aspx