Look Inside

Volume 44 Number 2, December 1992

Volume 44 Number 2

The Art of Jade

Introduction
Stephen Markel

Early Chinese Jades
Robert E. Fisher

The Working of Jade in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
James C.Y. Watt

Jades from the Islamic World
Ralph Pinder-Wilson

Inception and Maturation in Mughal Jades
Stephen Markel

Rukmini Devi and Kalakshetra Textiles
Radha Sridhar

Preservation of Textiles
O.P. Agrawal

Notes

Book Notices

Introduction
Markel, Stephen
Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992, pp. 3-8 [Also in The World of Jade edited by Stephen Markel; Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992; ISBN: 81-85026-20-3, pp. 1-8. Extended version of article in the book]

While jade is pre-eminently associated with the artistic genius of China, several other cultures also developed strong traditions of jade working. All cultures in which jade was worked have considered it as an extremely prized commodity. In modern technical usage, the term "jade" refers to two distinct minerals: nephrite and jadeite. Commercial usage also includes a number of jade simulants. The extreme hardness and interlocked molecular structure of jade, make it impossible for them to be carved or cleaved along fraction lines. Virtually all worked nephrite and jadeite artefacts are abraded and polished.

Early Chinese Jades
Fisher, Robert E.
Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992, pp. 9-20 [Also in The World of Jade edited by Stephen Markel; Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992; ISBN: 81-85026-20-3, pp. 9-20]

The Chinese tradition has the most extensive application of jade. No other culture has patronized such a specialized or difficult art-form for a continuous period of over seven thousand years, or given more literary and philosophical attention to a single material. Given the intractable quality of jade, it is remarkable to consider the sheer thousands of jade objects, most created for ritual use in the earliest times. Chinese archaeologists discovered the working of jade early in the neolithic period, certainly by 5000 BCE, more likely even earlier. The source for much of the jade is the area of east and north-eastern China, not only Khotan in Central Asia as long assumed. The different forms, shapes, subject matter, ritual and ceremonial significance of jade objects from the neolithic period of Chinese history, from the early historical dynasties of Shang and Zhou (circa 1700-221 BCE), and from the Han to Tang Dynasties (206 BCE-CE 907) are discussed.

The Working of Jade in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Watt, James C. Y.
Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992, pp. 21-34 [Also in The World of Jade edited by Stephen Markel; Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992; ISBN: 81-85026-20-3, pp. 21-34]

The Ming dynasty, established after the expulsion of the Mongols in 1398, was politically a restoration of native rule. However, the cultural impact of nearly one hundred years of Mongol rule was that the Ming dynasty was in many ways the inheritor of the Mongol legacy. During the early Ming period in the fifteenth century, the energetic if somewhat chaotic, decorative style of the late Yuan period went through a dual transformation: it became ordered and sinicized. During the early Ming period, historical writings and archaeological records indicate that the use of jade was confined largely to the imperial family and senior officials, while in the later periods jade articles were used by a larger cross-section of the population, especially in prosperous areas in south-east China. During the Qing period (1644-1911), jade working became significant in the reign of Emperor Qianlong, who commissioned many jade objects large and small.

Jades from the Islamic World
Pinder-Wilson, Ralph
Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992, pp. 35-48 [Also in The World of Jade edited by Stephen Markel; Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992; ISBN: 81-85026-20-3, pp. 35-48]

Gem stones were as valued and sought after in the Islamic world as they were in most other societies. In the Islamic world, jade is mentioned as early as the eighth century in a treatise on talismans. The earliest surviving jades from the Islamic world are associated with Timur's grandson, Ulugh Beg, who assumed sovereign power of Persia in 1447. He is responsible for the earliest jade carving in the Islamic world. It is the jade monolith commemorating the burial of Timur in his mausoleum, the Gur-i Amir in Samarqand. The finest Iranian gold-inlaid jade is a dragon-handled jug made for Shah Ismai'l I, now in the Topkapi Saray Museum. The Ottoman sultans inherited their Turkish ancestors' appreciation of jade. Turkish jade carvers were unrestrained in their application of surface embellishment, while the jade carvers of the court of Ulugh Beg concentrated on form and restricted decoration to the minimum.

Inception and Maturation in Mughal Jades
Markel, Stephen
Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992, pp. 49-64 [Also in The World of Jade edited by Stephen Markel; Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992; ISBN: 81-85026-20-3, pp. 49-64]

Mughal jades were one of the primary forms of sculptural expression in northern India during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. They survive in greater number than any other type of decorative art object made in the Mughal period. The stylistic evolution of early Mughal jades in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries reflects the individual tastes and aesthetic sensibilities of the four ruling emperors - Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb. The different objects, subject matter, and stylistic and decorative features of jade under the four emperors is described in this article. The official Mughal court histories and imperial memoirs prior to Aurangzeb's reign reveal an almost total lack of references specifically mentioning jade or jade objects. This is in stark contrast to the numerous surviving jade objects that were produced for the Mughal court and the various descriptive accounts by visiting Europeans attesting to the existence and popularity of jade and jade objects. The mid-seventeenth century under Emperor Shah Jahan is regarded as the zenith of Mughal jade working.

Notes
Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992, pp. 65-72
Rukmini Devi and Kalakshetra Textiles by Radha Sridhar traces the development of Kalakshetra as a centre for arts education and weaving and the pioneering role of Mrs Arundale; O.P. Agarwal discusses the storage and preservation techniques to prevent damage to textiles and the work of restorers.
Book Notices
Vol. 44 No. 2, December 1992, p. 73

Siva in Art by O.C. Handa, Islamic Art by Barbara Brend, On the Origins of Pahari Painting by Vishwa Chander Ohri.