Apprisal of Chinese Porcelain


Understand Essentials

Jade is precious to the Chinese. It has a remarkable history of seven thousand years in China. Two gem-like minerals (nephrite and jadeite) have been worked into symbolic weapons, ritual objects and exceptional ornaments. Jade possesses five physical attributes: durability, color, texture, translucence, and sensuous tactile quality when polished.

Identify Material: Nephrite and jadeite share certain physical features, although they are chemically quite different. Chemically nephrite is an amphibole comprising oxides of calcium, magnesium and silicon; jadeite is a pyroxene comprising oxides of sodium, aluminum and silicon. The minerals in the nephrite group are tremolite and actinolite.

Understand Meanings and Associations: how the elite Chinese used jade, its associations with the earthly and the spiritual powers, how the stone’s beautiful translucence, indestructibility and permanence represent the positive aspects of power, particularly the qualities of the stone represent the metaphor for human virtue.

Recognize Visible and Invisible Qualities: A jade usually embodies the visible (material body) and invisible (spiritual association, such as functionality) qualities. The visible refers to the material itself (texture, color, function, decoration and carving). The invisible signifies the exact context how a jade was used, its ownership and transmission between individuals, ranking among objects of its own category and those of related categories.

Evaluate Physical Attributes : Toughness and translucence determine shape and function. The toughness of jade is its essential quality, determining the ways in which it was ground and polished, rather than cut. Pale green or white are much prized colors for nephrite. Its durability is displayed in a luminous translucent stone that can be ground to a soft smooth surface but cannot be easily scratched or broken.

Dating via Tool Marks : Jade has specific physical properties and demands different methods of working, certain shapes and decorative styles developed early and remained fundamental to jade carving. Recognizing the tool marks on the surface of a jade is essential to dating. For example, Neolithic and Shang jades are made of flat slices or slabs due to its shaping method of cutting boulders of material into slices and then to shape the edges in various ways. Earlier jade often has a thick body while later jade is featured by a thin or even thickness. Using the abrasive sands (graded from coarse to fine) to polish the jade often left the traces of the grinding marks on surface. Using a rotating tool (drill) to cut holes and grooves offers clues to an earlier date of one side drilling or a later date drilling a hole from both sides.


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-Most-Up-to-Date Guide Book (In Progress)

"Wei Yang’s Guide to Chinese Jade" centers on identification, dating and authentication of Chinese jade. It offers a road map to the appreciation of Chinese jade via media identification, tool mark affiliations and the reinterpretation of the antique and the regional. It discusses the impact of the mystic power embodied by a jade, from burial to decorative, via a set of shapes (discs, tubes of both circular and square cross-section) derived from stone tools, and new ways of creating decoration changed the visual appearance of jade carving. By focusing on the transformation of antique jades, such as the classical forms of Chinese bronzes, and the reinterpretative efforts invested by artists of all periods and the invention of tools and technology, the guidebook helps English readers appreciate Chinese jades of various forms from the perspective of a Chinese art connoisseur. Its discussion on the presentation of a set of traditional forms, the embodiment of symbolic significance in decoration, and the trends and tastes of Chinese material culture, sheds light on how traditional forms and decorative motifs were transformed to reflects new aesthetics and trends. A survey of the market appreciation of the original, the imitations and the fakes addresses the authentication of Chinese antique jades from a connoisseur’s perspective.

This guidebook offers a road map for those who wish to develop an expertise in Chinese Jade. It demonstrates how historical, cultural, and aesthetic properties, ranking of a jade’s physical attributes on value and how to overcome the difficulties in appraising Chinese jades.


-Shapes & Motifs

Abbe, Melissa, ed. Later Chinese Jades: Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century from the Asian Art Museum of San Francesco (San Francesco: Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, 2007).
Gu Fang. Illustrated Dictionary of Chinese Antique Jades. 2nd edition (Beijing: wenwu, 2015.)
Gu Fang. Shapes and Decorative Motifs on Antique Jades (Beijing: wenwu, 2009).
Fang Xiangming.History of Chinese Jades. 12 volumes (Shenzhen: Haitian, 2014).
Rawson, Jessica. Chinese Jades from the Neolithic to the Qing (Chicago: Art Media Resources, Ltd, 1995).
Xu Lin. The Jade Carving Techniques in Ancient China (Beijing: Zijingcheng, 2011).


-Dating & Ranking

Liu Liangyou. Verification of the Authenticity of Antique Jades (Taipei: Shuangya International, 1992).
Ye Qifeng. Authentication of Antique Jade Seals (Beijing: wenwu, 1997).
Xuqiang. The Jewels of Antique Jades from the Hongshan Culture (Beijing: Lantian, 2004).
Yang Boda. A Study of the Authenticity of Antique Jades (Hong Kong: Sanyu tang, 2003).
Zhou Nanquan. Illustrated Dictionary of the Appreciation of Chinese Antique Jades (Shanghai: cishu, 2007).