Three Climaxes of Colored Gems & Jades Utilization in Ancient China and Their Relations with Ancient Silk Roads
MO Mo;QIU Zhili;ZHANG Yuefeng; LI Liufen;WU Mo;LUO Han
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Based on abundant archaeological findings as well as documentary records, three climaxes of colored gems and jades utilization were indentified in Chinese history, which were naturally formed in the communication between Chinese and foreign cuture along ancient silk roads. The first climax occurred in Han-Wei Period with colored jewelries such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, red gems, coral, amber, agate, etc. in the archaeological findings. The second climax were in Tang-Song (Liao) Dynasty being accompanied by the utilization of the most precious gems like ruby, sapphire and topaz as well as those in the first climax. The third climax occurred in Ming-Qing Dynasty with important gems & jades such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, cat's eye, lapis lazuli, tourmaline and green jadeite. The first peak utilization of colored gems and jades is initiated by Chinese people exploring central Asia through Northern Silk Road. The second is rooted in the prosperous Sino-western commercial and cultural connections during Tang-Song (Liao) Dynasty. The third climax, being born with relatively complex reasons, first derived from the active goods trade in Ming Dynasty along the Maritime Silk Road because of China's open to the west, and finally formed in the military pressure from western countries in the Qing Dynasty. In the third climax, introduction of green jadeites along Southeast Maritime Silk Road led Chinese jade culture into a new period with a transition from nephrite-dominated to jadeite & nephrite-dominated jade culture. Archaeological findings reveal that China's colored gems & jades culture was developed in the communication between Chinese and western culture along ancient silk roads. In the meantime, major colored gems and jades were imported from overseas countries. So the colored gems & jades culture in China, valuing more color rather than texture, is a kind of exotic culture.