This jade is published in Filippo Salviati 4000 YEARS OF CHINESE ARCHAIC JADES Edition Zacke, Vienna 2017, no. 265
龍形玉佩- 東周晚期, 西漢早期, 公元前3世紀-前2世紀
This peculiar pendant, carved in the shape of a dragon, is so richly detailed that it is almost impossible to decipher the full image at a first glance, if not for the head of the animal which stands out clearly. The difficulty in reading the whole design is also due to the particular type of stone chosen by the carver and its intrinsic characteristics. The jade is in fact dark green in colour, with a lighter patch on one side of the carving showing the distinctive compact crystal aggregates which characterize the structure of nephrite jade. In addition, two light brown bands run along the top and bottom sides, creating a visual contrast with the central, green section of the stone. In all likelihood, these brown stripes correspond to the external layer – the so-called ‘skin’- of the pebble from which the jade was carved. This might also explain the peculiar, almost rectangular conformation of the pendant and the complexity of its design: the carver had to adjust the image to the size and shape of the thin slab of jade, which explains why the features of the dragon are so difficult to recognize. The mythical animal is represented with a twisted body in a compressed, “S”-shaped form. The head, provided with a long, elaborate crest extending along the bottom side of the ornament, shows all the features of similar Eastern Zhou dragons carved in jade. The four paws, each stemming from twisted lower limbs, and which seem to be grasping at different parts of the animal, can be detected by following the contour of the body. Despite the small dimensions of the object, the entire surface is enriched by additional decorative details, mostly thin engraved lines and comma-shaped patterns which mark the four limbs. Another subtlety of the carving is represented by the fact that all of the animal’s features are slightly raised above the surface of the jade: this creates a subtle interplay between all the details and gives the whole composition an almost three-dimensional effect, fully manifesting the cleverness and the mastery of the anonymous carver.
Provenance: From an old Austrian-Hungarian collection