This intriguing and extremely accurately carved adze-shaped jade has a very straightforward, slender and simple form: what makes it really fascinating is the combination of black and white colours which creates a sort of ‘yin-yang’ effect. The surface on one side is mostly white and smooth with only small areas of black and russet coloured striations, while the opposite side is almost completely black. The adze provides a perfect example of how imaginative the ancient jade carvers were when exploiting the natural characteristics inherent in the stone. The darker side of the jade is probably the ‘skin’ that covered the block of white jade, most likely from Qinghai province: instead of removing it, the carver integrated the black-coloured section into the finished object, creating a striking and unique visual effect. The chisel has a squared off oval shape with a hole drilled near one of the shorter edges: the opposite, cutting side is sloped and thinned.
Literature comparison/Archaeological sites: Two comparable jades of similar form but in different, more ordinary qualities of jade from the collection of Robert H. Ellsworth were auctioned at Christie’s New York on 19 March 2015, sale 11420, lots no.467 and 477: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/a-pale-greyish-green-hardstone-slender-axe-or-5876524-details.aspx?from=salesummery&intObjectID=5876524&sid=c6e71fd6-749f-4820-b99c-e537a22014eb and http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/an-opaque-greyish-olive-jade-slender-blade-northwest-5876534-details.aspx?from=salesummery&intObjectID=5876534&sid=c6e71fd6-749f-4820-b99c-e537a22014eb.
All jades in this catalogue have been professionally examined, authenticated and described by Prof. Fillipo Salviati. Professor Salviati teaches Chinese and Korean art at Sapienza University in Rome, in the Italian Institute of Oriental Studies. He is a world expert on archaic Chinese jades, having released multiple publications and being cited by renowned auction houses such as Sotheby’s.