Ancient Chinese Art of Jade Carving

Once, the famous Renaissance artist Michelangelo was asked how he overcame the difficulty of carving his masterpiece — David. Michelangelo replied:

“It is easy, you just chip away at the stone that does not look like David.”

In China, the buying and carving of jade can be a very lucrative business.

 (Image Credit: James St.John, Flickr, CC2.0)

Uncarved jadeite jade. (Image: James St.John, Flickr, CC2.0)

A buyer will purchase a rough piece of jade stone. If he’s lucky, the value of the jade will increase immensely once it has been carved by a jade master.

It is said that jade masters have hands that can create miracles, as they are capable of making beautiful looking jade jewelry out of ordinary looking jade stones.

 (Image Credit: Zhangyu_5, Pixabay, CC0)

Jade carvers carving raw jade stone pieces. (Image: Zhangyu_5, Pixabay, CC0)

However, there is no telling how a jade stone will look inside.

Many times, especially if the jade carving master is inexperienced, he will lose a great deal of money on the jade stone piece when it turns out to be more worthless then he thought.

Due to the risk involved, the process of buying and carving jade is considered a gamble.

Ling Charming is a jade carving master from the Yang Mei Village of Guandong, China. He once purchased a piece of jade for 4,000 Yuan (US$600) and made a pot decorated with the pattern of winter blossoms. He sold the finished piece to a collector for 80,000 Yuan ($US12,000).

It can sometimes take a jade carving master as long as one month to contemplate and decide on the design he would like to carve out of the jade stone.

Some masters have such a high expertise and skill that they are capable of dividing a stone while still keeping the parts essentially whole. Like a piece of jade, carved into three pieces while still keeping each piece connected via a chain made of the single piece of jade itself.

Natural jade stone is usually covered with an eroded layer. A good jade carving-master knows how to make full use of the jade stone’s original color.

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Taiwan’s National Center for Traditional Arts (國立傳統藝術中心)