Thursday, 2 October 2014


With book production the amount of archaeological finds and historical art, information has grown significantly with illustrated volumes and thus given us a better understanding and appreciation of nature and new discoveries in China.

The conclusion has emerged that there are problems with regard the identification and classification of Ancient Jade compared to Jades of recent centuries.

In recent times these been nothing less than sensational in scale and importance.  The revelation is that they bring on highly advanced ancient, neolithic cultures which are now identified at sites across China which constitutes some of the the most significant archaelogical finds ever seen in Asia.

Some of these cultures date back to 5500BC. Modern scientific methods have established the existence of various jades showing originality and extremely advanced workmanship, which contradicts previous ideas about ancient Chinese culture.

Some aspects of Chinese culture have been reviewed and rewritten.  It is beyond doubt that a range of familiar forms, skills and methods are of more ancient antiquity than were originally thought.

"The Age of Jade" which scholars speak of, preceded and in ways heralded and inspired the coming of the "Bronze Age" and is also referred to asAarchaic Jade.

Every year brings forth fresh discoveries and detailed studies of this ancient jade which has become a preoccupation for many.

If you are serious about or have an interest in Archaic Jade you will be eager to see various exhibitions around the globe.

Jades of the later centuries have not been illuminated to such bright effects by archaeologists, understandably, in times when burial customs and beliefs no longer imposed a need to bury Archaic Jade in tombs.

Because Jade is so hard, little change occurs on the surface even over centuries.

To date there is no scientific method, such as carbon-14 dating or thermoluminescence dating, which assist determine age within a few centuries on most objects other than Jade.

The lack of records in the past have made it more difficult, however, however, there have been several important caches published in the last 30-40 years, notably those of Lady Fu Hao (c1400BC) and the king of Nanye (122BC), published in the past 30 years which have thrown light on the Shang to Han period.  Dating of objects of ancient jade from these dynasties, is now better understood.

Due to the lack of excavations post Han Dy of ancient Jade objects which are a more valuable material than other media, it might well have been misleading that the styles may have served as prototypes of some other objects of different compounds. both of these pictures are of Jade from my private collection, and demonstrate the style of ancient jade objects from the Han period.
There have been several exhibitions held in the past 40 years in which jades from Han to Qing periods were exhibited.  These exhibitions including the Oriental Cetamic Sciety's Jade Exhibiton, Longdon 1975; the Asia Society's Exhbition Chinee Jade from Han to Qing, New York 1980 and the Min Chiu Society's Chinese Jade Carving Exchibition, Hong Kong in 1983 have enhanced knowledge of later jades and formed the basis for their dating although a wider limit on these dates should be made.

Recent exccavation have bought to light neolithic cultures, such as Songze, Hongshan and Liangzhu, which were previously unknown or unrecognised.

Few believed jade was even worked in Ancient times however this theory has now been discounted.

Information attained has been sourced form the text of "Jades of Chine" for The Museium of East Asian Art, Bath England and written by Angus Forsyth and Brian McElney

Pictures being uploaded to this Blog have been sourced from this catalogue and my own private collection.

Angus Forsyth was president of the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong.  He has written extensively on archaic jade in relation to Chinese neolithic, Shang and Zhou Dynasties. He has studied and handled volumes of jade and he refer to the most recent archaeological discoveries of jade and bronze so his work contains the most up to date information.

Brian McElney, previously a Hong Kong Lawyer with his own private collection, has donated most of it to the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, which he founded in 1993 and is now Honorary Curator and member of Min Chiu Society and the Oriental Ceramic Society. With John Ayers, he is one of the Advisers to the Hong Kong Museum of Art was President of the Oriental Cetamic Society of Hong Kong as well as being on the committee of management of the Fung Ping Shan Museum of Hong Kong.  Brian has written important articles on Chinese jade and other Chinese art.
The archaeological discoveries at Xi'an, known as the Terracotta Warriors and attributed Emperior Qin, were discovered in 1974 making them one of the major archaeological discoveries of our modern era. More on these archaeological discoveries will be documented in another blog post.
As a lover and collector of fine Jade myself, I take pride in the information I source from reputable literary manuals and text books.
If you are interested in archaeological discoveries keep your eyes on my blob posts.

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