Object: Stone Vase

Ch’ing Dynasty, 1662-1722
Materials: Agate or Jade

This beautifully carved stone vase is a somewhat large example of the art of carving jade flowers in China. It is made of a single stone varying in color from pink to amber, and the duality of the colors was captured as a light flower surrounded by darker vines. The stone was polished and shines in the light. The exact material is unknown but could also have been agate, which is a similar hard stone also used to carve decorations.

Jade has widely been a popular stone to work with in China for many hundreds of years. It was believed to be the stone from heaven because it came from high in the mountains. The typical image of jade is the deep green but it can actually come in a variety of colors such as white, blue, red, brown, yellow, grey and black. A single piece of stone may contain a range of colors. Typically a desired piece of jewelry will be one color and have no cracks or flaws, so most stones are difficult to use for this purpose. A master carver however, can use the flaws to shape a floral design by getting rid of cracks as part of the design and, even more impressive, use the color variations to enhance the life-like qualities of their design. This type of jade carving has long been popular in China and saw great advancements during the Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644.

For more information, read The Collector’s Book of Jade by Arthur and Grace Chu and Jade-Essence of Hills and Streams by S. Howard Hansford [Victoria Counts].

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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