China had a large stone industry in Neolithic times. As early as 4500 BC, people on China's east coast employed fine polished stone axes and knives. The working of jade was an extension of this. Jade was used for beautifully coloured and prestigious versions of everyday tools. Jade is scarce and very labour-intensive, and so these objects were fashioned for ceremonial, not utilitarian, purposes.This black jade ritual sceptre has an unusual shape. Its blade spreads slightly, with an asymmetrical curved end. The narrow end has not been shaped as part of a blade, but as the grip of a sceptre. Sceptres of this shape and of a similar black stone have been excavated in both northern and southern China.