Shades of Jade

This art gallery is a collection dedicated to the color Jade. The mineral Jadeite, as a material, was popular throughout most of the world, especially in Asia and South America. Many different cultures used the precious stone to carve intricate designs and shapes for several unique purposes, such as storage or ceremonial decoration. The stone itself is typically of a green hue, but variations of it can range anywhere from a pale green/brown to near black. The color name "Jade" itself can refer to several shades of green.

There were many deposits of jade throughout China, which are all (now) mostly depleted. At the time of creation for this pendant, jade was plentiful. It was considered a precious stone by the people of that time, and it later maintained its importance throughout monarchies and through trade. This pendant is very smooth and the carvings are detailed, which hints to its use for ceremonial purposes. It has a hole, meaning it was most likely hung from string or from another source and used for jewelry. Its color ranges from a pale green to a very deep shade of jade, which is typical for the mineral.
This intricately carved sculpture of a bokchoy cabbage was created from jadeite. It is said that the vegetable itself (as well as the bugs perched on its leaves) were seen as symbols of fertility. It is believed to have been given to royalty as a gift, and was displayed within a palace in the Forbidden City.
Many cultures in the past have had strange ways of dealing with prominent issues. One belief was that if one were to create a drinking vessel out of a rhinoceros horn, it would dissolve any poison within the drink it contained. While this vessel is made out of jadeite, the artist carved it in such a way that it looks similar to a rhinoceros horn. The shade of this jadeite is a natural, earthy brown, with small highlights of green.
Early Chinese cultures often worshipped deities in the form of serpentine dragons. Dragons, in the Chinese culture, were often associated with water (rainfall, rivers, oceans), and so paying respects to these deities led them to believe they would receive large amounts of rainfall and so they could grow more crops. There are many sculptures and carvings of dragons from China, and the above brownish-green plaque is one of them.
While one might expect a blade to be used for weaponry, Zhang blades, in ancient Chinese cultures, were more often used as an indicator of status. The jade of the blade was carved so thin that it could be easily fractured with enough force. The jade of this weapon is a dark green, almost black shade.
Ancient Chinese congs are interesting artifacts, as no one is sure as to what they were used for. Many believe they were used for ritual purposes, but that is simply speculation. The jade that this cong is carved from is of a green-yellow hue, with imperfections scattered upon its surface.
While the color of the shaft resembles jade in color, it is actually the blade of this ceremonial axe that is comprised of the mineral jadeite. The pale tan blade is serrated and the axe as a whole is adorned with decorations depicting dragons, which displayed power in ancient times.
Other materials, like Celadon, were used in the crafting of objects in Asia. They appear to be similar to jade at first glance, but are only similar in color. This pitcher is in the shape of a dragon, which (as mentioned before) were important deities in Asiatic cultures.
Figures of dragons were quite common in ancient Asia, and this pitcher is no exception. However, the dragon of this piece has a turtle shell upon its back, making it a dragon turtle. Dragon turtles were a legendary creature in Chinese culture, and ornaments depicting them were meant to symbolize power, courage, and determination. This pitcher is made out of celadon, but is of a jade hue.
While the character depicted in this piece looks South American in origin, it is actually a figure from an ancient Chinese culture. It appears to be dragon-like in shape, leading one to believe that it may have had religious significance. The jade it is carved from is near black in color, with spots of greenish blue to indicate the "true" nature of the carved stone.
Aside from Asia, jadeite was also abundant in the Central and South American regions. The Mayan culture, especially, used these minerals for cultural sculptures and carvings. Pendants like the deep green one above were carved from pure jadeite, and cinnabar was used to accentuate their creations.
This Mayan plaque, carved from deep green jadeite, depicts a figure seated and looking to the side, carved in intricate, clean detail. It has a hole through the sides of it, meaning it was likely worn as a pendant on a neck-piece. Since the mineral was valuable, it was likely owned (and depicted) a Maya person of higher status.
This green and pale jadeite ornament was likely worn upon the headdress of a very powerful figure in Maya society. The Jester God, depicted in the sculpture, was a symbol of power, and was highly revered as such. Pendants and ornaments were carved from jadeite to signify who was and was not of high status in the Maya culture.
Jaguars were important figures to South American cultures, including the Olmec and Maya, so the origin of this pendant is uncertain. However, for both cultures, the jaguar was a symbol of fertility and power, and having a pendant carved of jadeite signified that the wearer was an important, powerful figure themselves.
The origin of this pendant is unknown, but is likely Islamic in origin (due to the collection it is contained within). This shield-shaped pendant is a very deep, translucent jade with intricate carvings of plants and flowers.
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