Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A set of Small Jade Ornaments from the Liangzhu Culture 3300-2300BC


A set of ancient jade ornaments  comprising 10 tubular jade beads strung with turquoise beads, a small slit ring (jue), a small disc (bi)and a small huang. All purchased in Hangzhou and purportedly from the Liangzhu Culture (3300-2300 BC) The stone, patina, and shape of the items do resemble Liangzhu artefacts so there is a good chance that these are of the period. Also Hangzhou is the site of Liangzhu culture makes the possibility more likely.


Set of ancient jade ornaments

The ten tubular beads are interspersed with turquoise beads which may not be from the same timeline.

Ten tubular beads with turquoise beads

According to research the slit ring or jue (2.3cm)  on left is an ear ornament and are often strung with the bi disc (2cm) on right and huang below

Slit ring (jue) and small bi (disc)

The small arch shaped huang measures 5cm and must have been part of a longer necklace. Each end of the huang is drilled with a hole and a groove.



Jade huang with hole and groove at both ends

The hole and groove at both ends may represent they eyes and mouths of a dragon. Later versions of  jade huangs have dragon carvings at both ends so this may be an early version. This is entirely my own conjecture.

Looks like an eye and a mouth

Unlike large ceremonial ritualistic objects  of the Neolithic period, these ornaments are small and minimalist but have a life of their own  If these beads and ornaments were exhibited in a museum, would they be arranged as below ?

Museum display

I don't have enough beads and ornaments to string into an elaborate strand but still managed to make quite a decent one. :)😊



Strung as a strand

Thursday, April 19, 2018

4 Ancient Jade Plaques with Line Carving


Here are 4 jade plaques or pendants that had me intrigued


Mottled olive green jade infused with cloudy patina

The jade is a light olive green, infused with cloudy white patina which does not corrode the jade. Instead oddly it seems to enhance it. With white  patina blooming all over them I cannot help but guess they are ancient pieces but I cannot really identify the exact period or which Chinese cultural group they belong to.

Which dynasty and which Chinese cultural group?


Round shaped and measuring 3 cm  diameter, each plaque has  3 small holes drilled near the edge . Each piece has a carving of  mythical  animal on one side. The line carvings retain traces of cinnabar.  Not sure if these red lines are the remains of cinnabar or some dealer just outlined it in red to make the drawings stand out. I have soaked the pieces in soapy water and the red lines have not disappeared. The reverse side is plain.

No Carvings on the back


To show  a better view I have lined up the following enlargements


Dragon


Phoenix



Snake wrapped round a turtle


Lion

To add to the mystery each plaque is also very thin. What tools were used to carve these mythological animals without damaging the delicate jade. Or are these jade of younger vintage, although patina says otherwise. Another possibility,  were drawings newly added using modern tools ?

Finally, were they used as pendants, or worn as belts, strung as chatelaines or hung as part of a veil ??

Whatever, their history or vintage, I would still find them attractive and collectible.

Very collectible !

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lunar New Year of the Dog 2018


To usher in Year of the Dog 2018 I have assembled 9 Doggies from my collection. Here are the first 3 which hail from different periods of Chinese culture or history  bearing auspicious greetings on them.


 pottery dogs with auspicious greetings



Spotted dog on the right from Cizhou kilns of Sung dynasty (960-1279 AD)  In the centre dog with black nose likely from 19th century  and brown dog on left may date as far back as Chinese prehistory.


More doggie themes on snuff bottles  and one carved from rock crystal shown below. Strictly speaking these three are not mine but borrowed from Heng.

More doggie themes  for Year if the Dog


I could not find a single bead with dog motif  but manage to unearth 2 jade pendants with carvings of dogs

White jade pendants with dog carving.

Little Sophie my granddaughter has loaned me her gold hair toy dog to wish blog reader's good health and peace for CNY 2018

Gold Hair toy dog welcomes Year of the Dog 2018

And here is little Sophie's version of Welcome to  Spring (Chun Jie)


Sophie's Song of Spring





Monday, June 19, 2017

Jade Leis


I have found yet another use for my miscellaneous jade charms. By attaching them to a vintage silver chain,  a " jade lei" is formed.

Jade Lei composed of jade charms or amulets

According to wikipedia a lei is defined as :

Lei is a garland or wreath. More loosely defined, a lei is any series of objects strung together ... Often the composition of a lei determine the meaning behind a lei; a lei made using a hala fruit for instance is said to be connected to love, desire, ... etc 
For me the meaning behind my jade lei is just my love for jade, and here's a closeup look at my lucky charms.


close up of  charms on lei


The second lei I made mostly from white and off white pieces of vintage jade.

jade lei 2 on qing dynasty silver chain

Although carved from   lower quality jade  the charms in the second lei are no less interesting. An eclectic assortment of jade charms including  animals and insects,  as fish, rabbit, cicada and several  fruits, a hand and a fan are represented in the closeup below.


an assortment of jade charms from fan to hand

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Praise of Ancient Chinese Ornaments

 
This group of beads and pendants is made up of an interesting mix of bird and animal forms together with cylinders, barrel and tabular shapes. As they show characteristics of the middle Neolithic, Shang, Xizhou and Han dynasties (about 4000 BC - 220 AD) I am relating them broadly to these periods.


A selection of ancient beads and pendants

 There are four birds in the set and  I have a soft spot for the first three. Each bird measures approximately 2cm x 1.7cm. They have line carvings all over their bodies with holes drilled from head to feet and must have been used for stringing. Could date from Han dynasty (206BC- 220AD) or earlier.
 
Petite bird beads
 
 The fourth bird with outstretched wings  is also one of my favourites. Such birds have been recovered  from Hongshan Culture sites (about 4700Bc - 2900BC) but it's hard to confirm whether mine is Hongshan or Shang dynasty (1600 -1046BC) vintage. Because of its smaller size 3.2cm x3 cm I tend to believe it is a Shang model.  This is a soulful looking bird and the stone has been  abraded to show raised eyes and breast. There is also a centre band with minimal carving below the breast.
 
Soulful bird


 The reverse shows ox nose suspension holes  and a pair of grooves around the tail and wings. Toomarks are seen in the holes and grooves.
 
Reverse showing ox-nose holes and pair of grooves
Next are 2 small animals,  a pig bead (2cm x 1cm) pierced from top to bottom and a rabbit pendant (2.2cm x 1cm)with attachement hole at the nose.  I speculate that these are from Xizhou dynasty (1046-771 BC) which has many tiny animals in its repertoire.
 
Pig and rabbit



 These three cylindrical faience beads can also be dated to Xizhou dynasty  as they are commonly used in necklace assemblages (pei)of that dynasty. Longest cylinder measures 1.4cm
 
 
Faience beads
 
Barrel bead is 1.4cm long with  a foetus like (or maybe its a silkworm) carved in high relief,  with double collars on both ends. Need to do further research on the carving style to establish its time in history.
 
Foetus or silkworm carving

 
Tabular bead with turtle shell pattern is likely to be Shang dynasty vintage given the Shang dynasty's  frequent use of turtle shells for oracle divination. Measures 1.8 cm x 1.5 cm

 
Tabular bead with turtle shell pattern

 
There are grooves on both sides of the bead.
 
 
Grooves at both sides


 Bead with taotie motif is the next intriguing bead coming up.  According to Wikipedia
The taotie is a mofif commonly found on Chinese ritual bronze vessels from the Shang and Zhou dynasty. The design typically consists of a zoomorphic mask described as being frontal, bilaterally symmetrical with a pair of raised eyes and no lower jaw area.

The specimen I show measures 1.2 cm , is curved inwards ,with the top wider than the bottom. It has a large drilled hole from top to bottom with  the top part of the hole larger than the bottom and another perforation in the centre. The curved surface shows a pair of slanted eyes with cloud pattern eyebrows but lacks a lower jaw or mouth. Beads of this ilk have been used among other things,  as  finial or closing device  for necklaces particularly in the Xizhou dynasty.
 
 
Intriguing bead with taotie mask pattern

 
Showing the large drilled hole
 
And the uncarved reverse is slightly curved with two dents  at both ends. I am not sure what purpose the dents serve.
 
Reverse has two dents at the sid


Last but not least is the pendant with monster head motif. It is decorated with striations at  the top of the head perhaps indicating hair, with large slanting eyes and long nose but the mouth is not shown. Not sure whether this is the head of a monster or some fearsome animal but its portrayal is simply unforgettable.  It measures 2.7cm x 1.8cm  This bead pendant may be as early as Neolithic times.
 
Monster head or wild beast ?
 The reverse shows ox-nose perforations with toolmarks visible
 
Ox-nose perforations with tool marks

 
And to round up here is my priceless collection of ancient beads, birds, animals, monsters and taotie again.
 
In praise of ancient Chinese ornaments.

 Finally I'd like to add that none of these ornaments,  beads, pendants have been authenticated. I am just recording them for my own indulgence and to share with whoever cares to look. 😄
 I am also apologetic that I am not clear about the names of the stones or minerals that these ornaments were made from.
 






Thursday, March 30, 2017

Matching Mum's Pearls with Xizhou Carnelian Disc Beads

 
 
Beautiful Beads are a Joy Forever !


Mum's vintage cultured pearls are  around 70 years old while  Xizhou carnelian disc beads are from the 11th century BC. Although several thousand years apart - still I think it worked and  they are well paired.

 
A Joy to Wear, A Memory to Treasure.






Thursday, March 16, 2017

Decorating Braided Bracelets with Antique Jade


Combining my love for braiding and my love for quirky pieces of old jade I have, over time come up with more  braided bracelet items. Each bracelet was painstakingly hand knotted by me and each antique jade ornament just as tirelessly  hand carved by craftsmen from long ago.

 
My bespoke bracelets


I used embroidery floss and braid patterns like Chevron, Chevron with border, Egyptian and Knitted to knot the bracelets.  Tiny, flat jade ornaments were then added as a centerpiece or as a closure  after the bracelets were completed.

Of the six bracelets 2 were formed by the simple pattern Chevron, shown below

 
Top pattern: Chevron embellished with jade butterfly as centerpiece
(closure button is modern)
Bottom pattern : Three color Chevron decorated with white jade polygon
as centerpiece and square jade button as closure
 
 

Chevron with border is a variation of the chevron pattern. The two bracelets shown below were made to this design.
 

Top pattern: Aubergine color chevron with contrasting grey border and
white bird as centerpiece (closure button is modern)
Bottom Pattern : Three color chevron with contrasting pink border,
 ending with a carved jade button
 
 

Last two  bracelets were made with  more complicated Egyptian and Knitted designs.


Pattern: Reverse side of Knitted pattern is used. Knitted pattern shown below
Decorated in the centre with a white jade bird. (Closure button is modern)

Knitted pattern on other side
 

The last bracelet was knotted following the Egyptian design

 
Pattern : Egyptian with spherical jade button closure



Compared with the mass produced stuff of today my self crafted, personalized accessories are real neato !
  
What a refreshing change !
 
 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A String of Beads and Pendants from early Chinese History


Inspired by the elaborate necklaces of the Xizhou dynasty,(1046-771 BC) I have come up with my own modest strand  using  beads and pendants  from early periods of China's civilization.

 
Mostly Shang - Zhou beads and pendants

Patina, toolmarks and carving style on these beads and pendants (silkworms, phoenix, turtle shell, disc etc) point tentatively to Shang - Xizhou period (1600-771 BC)  and later.

The strand is made up of  a trapezoidal jade bead, 2 silkworms, a spherical carved bead, a bead of turtle shell carving, two  bamboo shape tube beads and a pair of cicadas interspersed with small carnelian disc beads.

Details of the components given below.

Picture below shows beads with three different shapes. From left spherical bead with c-shaped  motifs (1.4cm), flat turtle shell bead (1.5 x 1cm) and a trapezoidal bead with phoenix carving (2 x 1.5cm at the base)



Bead shapes are spherical, flat and trapezoidal


Next is a pair of silkworm pendants the left worm is 3 cm and right is 2.8 cm.
 
 
Pair of silkworms

A pair of  slender bamboo shaped tubes with left tube measuring 2.0cm x 0.5cm and right 2.3cm x 0.5 cm

 
Left tube is 2cmx0.5cm right tube is 2.3cm x0.5cm

Pair of cicadas measures approximately 1.5cm x 1.2cm and likely to be later than Xizhou period.
 

Pair of cicadas


The carnelian disc beads used as spacers are the hallmarks of many Xizhou necklaces.
 

Small discs measures approx. 1 cm across
 


These red discs also add a touch of color to the otherwise somber hues of my string.

 
Rosy carnelian beads add a touch of color

 


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Favourite Books

  • Theft : a love story
  • The Uncommon Reader
  • Never Let me go
  • Angela's Angels
  • Where angels fear to tread