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  Folk Art
Jade Carving (Yudiao)

Jade is loosely understood in China as the collective name for most precious stones. Jade carving in this sense constitutes an important part of Chinese arts and crafts. The love of jade ware, according to Dr. Joseph Needham - the noted British naturalist has been one of the cultural features of China. Crude jade tools have been found among the archaeological finds dating back to the New Stone Age. There is, however, no evidence to indicate that neolithic people attached a great value to jade ware. They chose jade only because it was hard and good for making tools and fighting weapons. As time went on, people came gradually to appreciate the beauty of the stone. After carving and polishing, they realized that it might be turned into things not only useful but also pleasing to the eye. In the historical epoch during which the slave society was replaced by the feudal society, jade ware became established as objects of pure decoration. Among the funerary objects unearthed from tombs of that long period are many jade articles used as personal ornaments or ceremonial vessels. The jade exhibits one sees today in museums of the country normally comprise vases, incense burners, tripods, cups and wine vessels of various descriptions.

Large-sized jade articles began to appear in the middle of Chinese feudalism. There is today in the Round City of the Beihai Park a large jade jar the size of a small bathtub. It was used as a wine container by the Yuan Emperor Kublai Khan when he feted his followers. The 3.5 ton jar may hold as much as 3.000 litres of wine. It has a circumference of 493 cm and measures 70 cm high and 55 cm deep in the middle. The elliptic jar is well-shaped and engraved all round with clouds, waves . dragons and sea horses. It is the oldest jade object of a large size kept intact in the country.

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