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Jade


         Jade artifacts are very special in Chinese history and culture. In the late period of primitive society, the craftsmanship of jade has reached a very high level and formed its unique characteristics during more than 7,000 years of development. In ancient time jade was not only used for decoration, but also as a symbol of wealth and power, as well as sacrifice to heaven, earth, ghost and God. Due to its unique qualities and pure natural features, the ancients made jade an embodiment of noble human beings. As a saying goes that the noble man would not give away jade without any reasons. Therefore, jade was widely used in people’s lives and became of belief and beauty. Xi’an was a very important place for jade production. This is reflected in Han Shu( History of the Former Han dynasty), a great work in the ancient times, which says that Lantian mountain( a mountain in the city of xi’an) was famous for producing a large amount of beautiful jade. Thousand of years of jade-making tradition made Xi’an rich in jade relics. The dagger-axe jade from the Shang Dynasty and jade cup unearthed in the relics of EPANG PALACE are elaborate articles. The jade were used in different ways, such as ritual, sacrifice, wearing, display, decoration and burial. These articles reflect the different perception of jade during different times in Chinese history. The beautifully carved jades with their deep implications have plaid some special roles in Chinese politics, economy, culture, ideology, ethics and religious that other kinds of are have never reached. The ancient Chinese had related the natural qualities of jade with human morality, as Confucius claimed that jade had the qualities of benevolence; wisdom; justice; courtesy; loyalty; happiness; t ustwothiness; heaven; earth; virtue; So, wearing jades became very popular among the Chinese. People of all classes liked to wear jades to show their identity and at that same time to standardize their own behavior.

Jade is classified into different types in terms of their social functions.

1. Ritual Jade

Ornament jade was used in some ceremony activities I the ancient times. In the old times, people believed that all the creature have souls in the nature. The beautiful stone-jade was the treasure of mountain with the special features between heaven and earth. Therefore, people used jade wears was wildly used in pray to the heaven, awarding ceremony or some other important activities. The jade wares used in many kinds of ceremony activities, pray, or symbols of token or power and different ranks, were usually regarded as ceremony jade ware, like jade BI disc, Cong, Gui(blade) and Zhang(scepter)

2. Jade ornament

In ancient times, most of jade wears were used for ornamentation. The jade ornaments on clothes or bodies became popular since the new Stone Age. It can be worn on hat, hair, ear, neck, wrist and waist. Most of the wears had a hole to go through. Many of the jade wares were pure quality with fine design and craftsmanship which were the mainstream of Chinese jade wares.

3. Inlaid ornaments

The inlaid jade ornaments were only decorate other wares and were usually not used separately. In ancient times, many instruments were inlaid with jade to increase the value and for good luck. In the remote antiquity, there were instruments inlaid with turquoise. In the zhou dynasty, it became very popular. There were a variety of jade-inlaid instruments that were listed in institutions. Such as jade Jue(cup), jade dou(container), jade zhan(wine cup), jade ceremonies. In addition, there were also some military instruments inlaid with pick, wand were also tessellated. There were also jade-inlayed on the double-edged sword, such as shou, xin, zhiaand Bi.

4. Burial Jade

Burial jade, was a kind of jade that was put in the coffin or beside the dead. Ancient people used this kind of jade wares on funerals due to the following two functions of jade the symbol of power and prevention of the corpse from decaying.


5. Jade instruments and Furnishing

Jade instruments originally appeared in the Shang dynasty. There were mainly bowls, plates and vessels. After the Qin and han dynasties, it became more popular common jade instruments include cups, bowls, zun( wine vessel), jade pillows etc. They were not only practical instruments, but also high-quality artistic works for domestic decoration. Jade furnishings include round-shaped carved figure, animals and plants, most of which didn’t have a hole to go through, neither did the jade birds,animals, rabbits, and horses in the Shang and Zhou and Qin AND Han dynasties. After the Tang dynasty, the number of furnishing jade wares increased a lot. Most of the flower, bird and animal works not had unique designs, but also brilliant craftsmanship which made the work lifelike and vivid.

Materials and Origins jade in China

       “Jade” in Chinese can be classified in two categories: one, in a narrow mineralogical sense, includes nephrite and jadeite; the other in a broad sense of Chinese tradition covers all the beautiful stones like agate, crystal and turquoise.

1. Hetian jade
A kind of tremolite with a hardness of 6.0-6.5 degree from Hetian, Xinjinag Autonomous region. It varies greatly in color, such as white, blue, bluish white, green, yellow and black, the white one is the best. Lots of ancient Chinese jade wears were carved from it.
2.Xiu jade
A kind of serpentine with a hardness of 2.5-5.5 degree from Xiuyan Liaoning Province. Some other places in China also have this kind of stone, as Jiuquan jade from Gansun and Xinyi jade from GuangDong.

3.Lantin Jade
A kind of serpentine from the Lantian, shanxi province.

4.Jadite
A kind of pyroxene with a hardness of 7 degree, mainly from Burma. It was popularly used in the Qing Dynasty.

 
 

 

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