Jade, or “yu’ in Chinese character, is a type of ornamental stone that, in Chinese art, is utilized in various jewelry pieces, carving of figures, and other sculpture forms. The art of jade carving goes centuries back, an essential element in goldsmithing, and is still seen in many of the hardstone carvings in China. The Chinese value objects carved out of jade because they believe that the stone symbolizes beauty, purity, and long life. Additionally, artisans who specialize in jade carving hold jade in high esteem because of its translucent colors and unique sparkle.
Many of the precious jade pieces you find anywhere in the world highlight intricate designs from carvings created by the most skilled artisans. Apart from the stone’s quality, the piece’s value is also determined by the carving, whether it is a bangle or a figurine. For jade collectors, these are the two qualities they look for when purchasing jade items. In addition, some use jade figures as decorative pieces for their home, enhancing the appearance of any space with its unique and timeless beauty.
Early Chinese jade carvings
From 4,700 to 2900 BCE, many jade carvings used jadeite or nephrite. In the latter part of the 18th century, most of the Chinese jade carvings were made from nephrite. These stones are hard, much like steel, and one cannot use metal tools to carve or cut on them. The conventional method used in jade carving was wearing it away using carborundum (silicon carbide trademark) together with a soft tool. The process was later on replaced using rotary instruments and bits of a diamond. During ancient times, the rareness and the complicated process of manufacturing jade meant that its use was exclusively for Emperors, nobles, and tribal heads. It was also used for ritualistic vessels, totemic items, and ceremonial implements.
The painstaking process of jade carving
The process involved in jade carving is different from wood or ice carving. The procedure is laborious and requires a great deal of patience to produce a specific design. As a result, there are various jade designs such as flowers, dragons, animals, angels, Buddha, and so many more. Concerning jewelry, jade stones are curved into particular shapes before they are set into gold, silver, and other precious metals. Artisans must practice extra care to avoid wasting or shattering the stone and ensure that they choose its best parts so that they illuminate perfectly in the chosen design. The process itself can take 12-24 hours to complete depending on how intricate the design is. The more complicated designs can take days to finish. Today’s jade carvings can make use of any of thirty kinds of stones, and most of the finest jadeite workshops are found in Mainland China.
Whether you are a jade collector or are interested in purchasing jade items, it is always best to know the qualities and the process involved in the jade carving. You learn to appreciate its value by understanding why it is a prized possession. Additionally, it is helpful when you decide to shop for jade jewelry, figures, and other jade items.
1st and featured image from https://pixabay.com/photos/china-jade-carving-ball-stone-429919/
2nd image from https://pixabay.com/photos/china-dalian-decoration-6005247/