Jade articles have long been considered as treasures. Glittering, translucent, solid and meticulous, jade can be made into smooth, beautiful, long lasting, highly valuable works of art worth keeping as family heirlooms.
China has a long history in jade grinding and polishing, a craft about 6000 years old. As early as the New Stone Age, our ancestors had been able to distinguish jade from stone to make various kinds of utensils.
Yangzhou is among the most famous producing areas of jade articles and distinguished by a long history of jade making craft. Over thousands of years, generations of jade craftsmen have been devoting themselves to carrying forward and innovating the ancient traditional skills to create exquisite jade articles in various shapes and great quantities. In the Qing Dinasty, Yanzhou became noted for making big jade articles. Now in modern times, YangzhouˇŻs jade craft has been well known for its daintiness in style, i.e., delicate and graceful, elegant and exquisite. In short, Yangzhou has presented itself as a significant model for improving and perfecting jade craft in ancient and modern China.
Jade craft, known as the essence of art, has been a pearl of art in such an old civilization like China. Today YangzhouˇŻs craftsmen have inherited and innovated all the excellent jade crafts in the history. In practice, they strictly adhere to common rules of thumb in jade craft, that is, to design based on materials and apply different skills based on different designs. Besides, they take the trend of the times into consideration and continue to sharpen their skills of picking materials. Guided by the principle of using and never wasting the right high quality material, they have been able to make a great number of ingeniously and delicately wrought jade articles in elegant shapes. Meanwhile, they also draw on other profound national arts, including Chinese painting, clay sculpture, ivory carving, woodcarving, grotto statues and so forth, to develop their own new art. Now they have presented a rich variety of jade articles, ranging from figure jade articles (such as ancient ladies, the God and Kids of longevity and other gods and Buddha) to traditional items including incense burners, Xun(an ancient incense burner), Ding(an ancient cooking vessel), Zun( a kind of wine vessel used in ancient times), Gong(a kind of wine vessel used in ancient times) and so on. And there are also all kinds of birds, fowls, beasts, flowers, table plaques, jewels, strings of beads, stationery and other items. All of them are lively and vivid, graceful and magnificent. Just look at the coil and fold of the petals and leaves, overlapping of the branches, the bright features of the characters, swelling and swirling of the dresses, and solidity and neatness of the traditional utensils. They are all due to application of a number of techniques, such as the decoration style, ornament pattern, shallow and deep relief carving, three-dimension carving as well as hollowed-out carving. We can see modern Yangzhou jade craftsmen have succeeded in inheriting and developing the traditional craft, which is characterized as dainty and elegant, fine and exquisite, complicated but not untidy, and thick while appearing thin.
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