Qing Dynasty, 1644–1911/12, Chinese, Chime: Dragon in Clouds, 1765, Jadeite, 26 7/8 x 29 3/4 x 12 1/4 inches. Gift of Mrs. Fredrick B. Miner, FIA 1968.13

Art of Jade

August 15, 2020 - May 23, 2021

Ann K. Walch-Chan Gallery

In ancient China and Mesoamerica, jade items had profound cultural implications. They were used as symbols of social identity, hierarchy, status, wealth, and power in Chinese culture. In Mesoamerican cultures, jade was highly prized and often connected to rulers and spirituality. The stone continues to be an important artistic medium to this day. 

Artists need to be highly skilled because working with jade is labor intensive, time-consuming, and detailed. Traditional methods of carving like chipping the surface with a chisel are not effective because of the stone’s hardness. Instead, artists must employ a three-part process that includes cutting, grinding, and polishing. They often allow the material’s natural features to determine the completed form. Dark spots in a stone transform into the details of an animal’s fur or streaks of color delineate the wings of a bird. This exhibition includes 75 objects that illustrate the endless aesthetic possibilities of jade.

To hear the sound of the jade chimes, click here.

From the Exhibition

  • Maya culture, Central America, Mosaic Mask, ca. 600–900. Jade with shell, obsidian, 3 x 3 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches. Gift of Barry Fitzmorris, FIA 2011.219

  • Olmec Culture, Central America. Mask Pendant, 1100 - 300 BCE. Jade, 3 1/2 x 3 in. (8.9 x 7.6 cm). Gift of Barry Fitzmorris 2011.207

  • Maya Culture, Guatemala. Pair of Ear Spools, 600 - 900. Jade, 2 in. (5.1 cm). Gift of Robert Drapkin 2009.122

  • Chinese. Bi Disk with Imperial Decoration, Western Han Dynasty, 206 BCE - 12 CE. Jade, 11 11/16 x 11 5/8 x 1/2 in. (29.7 x 29.5 x 1.3 cm). Gift of Genevieve and Richard Shaw, by exchange 2010.284

  • Maya Culture, Guatemala. Jaguar Bowl, 600 - 900. Jade, 2 x 5 in. (5.1 x 12.7 cm). Gift of Robert Drapkin 2009.121

  • Chinese, Qing Dynasty, 1644–1911/12. Pair of Cranes, late 19th century. Jadeite, 14 1/4 inches high, each. Gift of Miss Carol C. Pierson, 2005.193.1-.2