Chinese Jade Carvings and Carved Jade make a Special and Unique Gift
Jade, the Stone of Heaven
Jade is a very special stone to Chinese culture and it is easy to understand why when you see a carved jade statue. In Chinese culture jade is viewed as the most precious of gems and to understand this is to gain an insight into their culture and history.
Caved jade has been of integral use in Chinese society for more then 6,000 years. This sacred stone of China has a significant role in everything from politics to philosophy and religion. The use of jade spans all classes and holds both spiritual and commercial value, it embodies nobility, perfection and even immortality. Jade is the symbolic link between man and the spiritual world.
Jade is produced through the natural forces of mountains and riverbeds. There are two distinct types of jade, Nephrite and Jadeite. Nephrite is commonly found in shades of green but can come in almost any color and is valued for its purity. Jadeite on the other hand is desired for its shades of bright lavenders and emerald greens.
In China jade is still seen as containing properties that promote good luck, protection and good health. Carved ritualistic and ornamental objects continue to play a role in many aspects of Chinese life as they are the eternal symbol of their ancient civilization.
How Jade is Carved
The ancient art of carving jade wasn't really carving as we understand it. The traditional method for carving jade was to wear it away with carborundum sand and a soft tool. This method of carving required many hours of hard work and talent. The modern method uses a rotary tool with a diamond bit. These tools are commonly available at woodworking shops and should you attempt to try it yourself you will want a tool with a flexible drive shaft so as to make it easier to hold the tool for long hours spent carving.
The hardness of Jadeite is particularly suitable for carving extremely fine lines to create shallow reliefs on the delicate surface. On the other hand Nephrite jade is the softer stone and thus easier to carve. Having a tray of water to work helps to remove dust and will prevent the stone dust from being inhaled.
To start with a carver cuts will be rough and will be refined later. As they get down to the smaller and finer detail they will need to use smaller and smaller bits. It takes a long time to make any sort of jade carving, even with power tools and if work is rushed to much pressure can crack a piece. Jade carvers spend a lot of time dedicated to their carving and must have a huge level of skill but can make just about anything out of this fine stone.
Jade around the World
The value of jade has been held in high regard to more people then just the Chinese. Jade has held a place in prehistoric and early Korea and was even imported from Burma. The largest sculpture made from a single jade rock in the world is found in India.
Jade has been valued around the world. In Central America the Olmecs, the Mayans and the Toltecs also treasured Jade and used it for carvings and masts. The Aztecs instituted a tax on jade and unfortunately that led to the recycling of their earlier artworks. Throughout Mesoamerica jade can be found to have value and artifacts of jade have been documented extensively in many different cultures all over the Americas.
The native New Zealand Maori culture also valued jade and it played an important role for these people. Jade was used for tool, weapons and ornaments and Maori designed carvings are widely popular with both locals and tourists today.