People often describe something“as flawless as jade”. Flawless jade, however, is rare to be found. With their ingenious creativity and exceptional skills, Jade carvers shape materials into marvelous jade wares that convey good wishes.“Unpolished jade never shines”, as the old saying goes.
China has a time-honored“jade culture” which can be traced back to the Neolithic Age. While making stone tools, our ancestors spared jade from the regular stones, and used it for productive, decorative, ritual purposes and alike. The jade pig-like dragon, unearthed at the site of Hongshan Culture, features finely carved details, a pristine shape, as well as a mysterious and ancient appeal.
The jade cong, unearthed at the site of Liangzhu Culture, has a square outer section around a circular inner part, with delicate, densely engraved lines. It figures bigger and bigger from the bottom to top. Due to the practical, aesthetic and symbolic value of jade, it gradually became a symbol of royal power and lofty virtue as well as a favourite“toy” among the scholars in the ancient times.
Jade of different qualities, colors and textures carries different cultural connotations. Confucius once said:“In the past, men of noble character would compare virtue into jade. The jade is tender and bright, which is much like a man of benevolence.”
Jade is not only personified as a man of moral integrity and is often used to describe the beauty of a lady. Usually, it is used to describe the shiny and smooth skin of a beauty. In addition, jade also symbolizes auspiciousness and conveys good wishes.
Standing out in contrast of the developing industrial technology, the craftsmanship of jade carving represents even greater value in manual dexterity, making it part of our nation’s intangible cultural heritage. At the China National Arts and Crafts Museum, the four national treasures by the names of“Jade Mount Tai”,“Jade Censer”,“Jade Flower Basket” and“Jade Screen” stand surely as the finest jade treasures of the age. All of them are priceless, representing the extension of China’s jade culture and jade carving techniques.
Deeply rooted in the Chinese history, the“jade culture” carries the values and cultural characteristics of the Chinese nation. From the ancient times till today, jade has always been the love of the Chinese people. Even if that jade is no longer used for traditional ritual purposes today, it is still something people love to wear, collect and play with.