Jade is a rare, colorful and hard stone, and it is usually polished and carved to make jade ware. Jade items are precious and rare treasures in China. Jade ornaments largely appeared in the post-Song period and prevalent during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Jade wares are normally called “Jade carvings”, a form of craftsmanship that enjoys a long history. Jade wares feature fine craftsmanship, and solemn, magnificent manner. Most jade wares come in large sizes and are used for decoration. Jade carvings with the theme of persons, mountains, utensils, and flowers bear unique touch. Quality materials are chosen to carve into different shapes and themes while allowing for features of the materials themselves. The agate ware which subtly retains the original color of it is the most representative. A wide range of jade materials are used to shape jade wares revealing a rich variety of themes. Jade wares betray palace art features and imperial manner.
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The jade ornaments of the Ming Dynasty were tiny and usually became, playthings in the hands of the literati. The ornaments bore patterns such as landscapes, birds and flowers, or were made to resemble humans and animals.
The main raw materials included celadon jade, blue and white jade and yellow jade. The Qing Dynasty witnessed the emergence of large jade ornaments which were more complex and finer. In the Qing Dynasty the most reputed jade chipping center was Lane Zhuanzhu in Suzhou where the processed jade ware was quite exquisite and beautiful.
The jade workshops in Yangzhou were especially skillful in chipping large pieces of jade ware that usually weighed several thousand Jin, but could weigh over ten thousand Jin. Jade chipping in the Qing Dynasty excelled in combining the merits of traditional painting, carving, and handicraft arts as well as absorbing the artistic styles of foreign arts.