Paved with jade

By Zhao Xu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-03 09:02
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A jade double-dragon decorative plaque, from the early Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). [Photo by Huang Yi/Nanjing Museum/China Daily]
Zuo Jun, curator [Photo provided to China Daily]

That spirit, a mixture of idealism and heroism, had coursed through every form of art created during those years, with pride molten into bronze and a sense of verve dancing on the pure surface of jade. A reverence toward jade was still there, but it was coupled with a growing tendency among individual artist-artisans to treat their creations as personal expressions, adding emotional depth to visual magnificence.

"War provided incentives for developing technology, especially the metallurgy of iron," Zuo says.

"And the knowledge gained in the making of weaponry could be readily translated into the making of tools, including those used to make jade malleable.

"Times were trying and life short. In retrospect, what better way to let these intense but fleeting moments endure than to dedicate them to the making of something whose beauty lasts?"

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