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Jade Carvings and Asian Artefacts

Updated on July 19, 2017

Intricate Jade Carving

Source

Jade - A fluctuating Gem

The highest quality of Jade preferred by Chinese jade workers and buyers was found around Khotan and Yarkand which are both in the far west of the controlled Chinese territories.

Transportation of the raw materials posed a significant problem as the distance took up a radius of several thousand miles and transcended mountains and rivers and the Taklamakan desert to get to the jade working areas in eastern China.

Although some of the raw material was outside the Great Wall and China proper, there was never a drive to take control of the source of the Jade during the Shang period.

This area was occupied by nomadic tribes who were hostile to China and considered barbaric to the Chinese. Their nomadic existence led them into conflict with their neighbours. Jade trading was subject to many disturbances en-route leading from Khotan and Yarkand areas through the Jade Gate or Yumen in the western end.

Archaeological evidence supports the theory jade was being sourced from these regions prior to 1000BC although no historical records indicate that. In the tomb of Lady Fu Hao (c 1400BC) inscriptions on Shang oracle bones record - obtaining jades and levying jades and a jade halberd, it bears an inscription saying it was a tribute to the king of Shang from Lu, a country acknowledging allegiance to the Shang kingdom, but the location was not know.

The art of Carving Jade stone

The term Jade Carving has been synonymous with the name Jade since antiquities, but in actual fact this term is quite technically incorrect. You see Jade is so hard, that it is is quite impossible to carve it as such.

Jadeite is composed of sodium, aluminium and silicate and the amphibole stone composed of calcium, magnesium and silicate, known as nephrite. They are almost entirely different compositions and both are fairly uncommon.

The truth is Jade has to be worked by sawing, drilling or grinding down with the use of abrasive materials.

In ancient Chinese times they didn't have saws or drills, instead they used water, string, abrasive material and bamboo to drill. When you consider the hardness of diamonds to be 10 on the Mohs scale it is no wonder they use diamond drills these days to etch into the stone.

It could take the Jade carver months, even years to carve elaborate works of art, hence the reason Jade works of art can fetch incredibly high prices at today's auctions.

Just recently a Chinese piece of work made from Soapstone sold for an incredible $2.3M

Raw jade from British Columbia Canada is fetching $200 per kilo, added to the time it takes and the costs to transport Jade, then the laborious time it takes to carve this stone, it is no wonder the prices have quadrupled in recent years.

Oriental Artefacts - A Private Collection

These items are from a private collection.  The Meiji Warrior pictured left was sold at Auction some months ago.
These items are from a private collection. The Meiji Warrior pictured left was sold at Auction some months ago. | Source

My interest in Jade Carvings

They say that if you spend enough time with something and study it long enough and read enough about the subject then you end up knowing a good deal about the topic.

I am pleased to say that I not only have a great deal of interest and respect for this particular stone, but my family and I have been collecting it for many years. I go as much to say that because of my interest I created a niche market for the sales of it in my hometown of Hobart.

When the antique shop finally closed over 10 years ago, I stopped selling my Jade Carvings, but kept increasing the family collection, often gifting pieces to my relatives or buying on their behalf.

The Ivory/Bone Meiji Warrior I sold at a local auction house Gowans Auctions in mid 2013, was purchased by an interstate buyer who promptly shipped it to the US market where it realised a price of $40K US.

I hope you come with me on a journey with a great deal of information about Jade Carving, Bronze statues, cloisonne and how it is made as well as concise information on Chinese Dynasties, Bone carvings and Mammoth Ivory.

I support Wildlife Preservation Societies and any money I make goes toward assisting these underfunded organizations in the quest to conquer the poachers killing our elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, walrus and many other endangered species.

I hope you join me on my journey.

Famous Chinese People

Who was your favourite Chinese countryman

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Where is Jade found?

  • Kobuk River, Alaska
  • Amazon River, Brazil
  • Turnagain, British Columbia Canada
  • Hetian, Khotan - China
  • Lo Pu, Xinjiang - China
  • Chi Mo, Xinjian - China
  • Sui Lai, Xinjiang - China
  • Sha Che, Yarkland - China
  • Ligurian Alps, Italy
  • South Island, New Zealand
  • Jordanow, Poland
  • Graubenden, Switzerland
  • Landar, Wyoming - USA
  • Mendocino, Mariposa & Monterey, California - USA
  • S.E. Shuriawi, Zimbabwe

Bronze Swords and other Asian Artefacts

This picture forms just part of a much larger collection.
This picture forms just part of a much larger collection.

Intricate Bone Carving of a Dragon Sword

Purchased for my mother some years ago, it is is part of the family collection
Purchased for my mother some years ago, it is is part of the family collection

Qing Dynasty Jade Deers

This beautiful piece was gifted to my sister and is in her private collection.
This beautiful piece was gifted to my sister and is in her private collection.

Chinese Jade Carving Video

The Art of Jade Carving

Take a couple of minutes and watch the master craftsmen show their skills using diamond drills and water to carve the Jade Happiness Ball.

You will see the raw material, a square block of Jade, next the Jade turned into a ball, and then the craftsman show his skill in carving the other balls inside the 1st and so on.


The Great Dynasties of China

CHINESE DYNASTIC CHART

  • PREHISTORIC 3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors C2000-1600
  • Xia (Hsia) Painted Pottery Culture (Yang-Shao)
  • Black Pottery Culture (Lung Shan)
  • DYNASTIES:
  • Xia (Hsia) Dynasty C2000-1600
  • Shang Dynasty C1600-1046BCE
  • Zhou (Chou) Dynasty C1045-256 BCE
  • Western Zhou Dynasty C1066-771 BCE
  • Eastern Zhou Dynasty C 770-256 BCE
  • Spring and Autumn Period C 770-476 BCE
  • Warring States Period C 475-221 BCE
  • Qin (Ch’in) Dynasty 221-207 BCE
  • Han Dynasty 206BC-220 AD
  • Western Han
  • Xin Dynasty
  • Eastern Han
  • Three Kingdoms – Period of Disunion 220-280 AD
  • Wei, Shu and Wu (Six Dy) during this time
  • Jin Dynasty 265-420 AD
  • Western Jin
  • 16 Kingdoms 304-439 AD
  • Eastern Jin
  • Southern & Northern Dynasties 420-589 AD
  • Sui Dynasty 589-618 AD
  • T’ang Dynasty 618-906 AD
  • (Second Zhou 690-705)
  • Five Dynasties and 10 Kingdoms 907-960 AD
  • Liao Dynasty 907-1125AD
  • Song Dynasty 960-1279AD
  • Northern Song
  • W. Xia
  • Southern Song
  • Jin
  • Yuan Dynasty 1271-1368AD
  • Ming Dynasty 1368-1644AD
  • Qing Dynasty 1644-1911AD
  • Republic of China 1912-1949
  • People’s Republic of China 1949-present

Jade Dynasties

What a story Jade could tell if it could talk.

Jade began with temendous het, unbelievable pressure and friction, slow interaction of water and minerals - evolving into jade stone.

From primitive man who discovered and used Jade and how man to follow seeing the beauty and virtue in the stone thought of usefulness and a decorative path to the Divine.

Concubines and kings, mystics and murderers, scholars or scoundrels beauties and villains for the cast of characters who waged war for jade. The woman who loved it and the men to whom its possession meant power and still others to whom it brought access to the secrets of the universe.

Neolithic Period to around 1800BC

There are several illustration of nephrite from this ancient period. One is that of a figure of a green bird, maybe an idol perhaps. Another a green fish carved both sides but badly decomposed and a green human statuette 2" high and all bearing the caption "Neolithic Style"

Unfortunately, there are no enough examples available to definitively establish neolithic jade style.

Shang Dynasty1766 - 1050BC

The Shang people were highly sophisticated and civilized.

Jade figures include weapons, daggers, axeheads and knives. Small animal figures of stylized actual and mythological beasts.

Chou Dynasty 1122 0 256BC

In this period the trend followed more simplification in design. For instance the dragon, the most popular symbol fo the era, were simple and elongated.

During the latter period of the Chou Dynasty around 600BC the styles became more elaborate with more complicated patterns thanks to the introduction of iron tools.

Shang animals were carved in irregular outlines, Chou animals appeared in high relief, conveyed in silhouettes and formalized motifs.

I havn't finished writing, I will be back! and no no relation to Arnie :)

Myanmar Jade Auctions

I recently watched a documentary about the Jade Auctions held in Myanmar annually. There were over 6000 pieces of Jade ranging from small to massive boulders.

The prices sold were in Euro and it was easy to see that the Asians value their Jade a great deal more highly than the westerners with prices reaching thousands of dollars for varying sizes from grams to many kilos in weight.

It was interesting to watch the buyers testing the depth of light in the dark green jades validating the quality for their intended carvings.

It surprised me that the value of Jade is highly regarded in Asian culture as being more valuable than gold and diamonds.



© 2013 Gabrielle Lucas

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