The Jadeworks of Daffydil

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nephrite pieces from the Ming-Qing Dynasty

In days of yore Chinese ladies wore jade flowers in their hair....and on their garments, sewn on to their collars, sleeves and hems of their jackets and skirts...., and not forgetting hats, hairpins and headgears as well. These tiny, exquisitely carved pieces of jade in the form of flowers, lotus, peach, bamboo, auspicious animals as bats, deers, qilin, birds, symbols as ruyi, eight treasures, .... and too many other motifs to be named have been used for many hundred years.

Long discarded by their owners, ripped out from their original attachements to garments, hats or pins, these whimiscal little jade pieces now lie in dark dank corners of shops, waiting for another rejuvenation.

They make great handicraft pieces and I have been lucky to own some of these treasures. The pieces shown here are an expression of my love for these decorative and nostalgic ornaments from another era. I have cleaned and salvaged them and some have been married to old coral, ancient carnelian, vintage and new silver, turning them into bracelets, bangles, pendants and decorative dangles, girdle-pendants and plaques. In the process I have learnt not only to appreciate the painstaking work but also share a kinship feeling with the old craftsmen who created them. It has been said that love of jade is part of the Chinese psyche and I hope the pieces I show will spark an appreciation in this minor artform.

NECKLACES

The necklaces in this section are made up of carved jade pieces which had probably been used as a centrepiece decoration for gentleman's hats, court headress decorations or ladies' hairpins, during the Qing dynasty. The kidney-shaped pieces were likely to have served as decorations sewn on to ladies' garments.


Necklace composed of a pierced, floral design jadite pendant attached to an antique silver chain and new crystal beads

Necklace composed of a pierced jadite pendant with carving of a bee on both sides. Attached to a silver chain with chinese pearls, and antique silver spacers and terminates with one silver fruit

Necklace composed of a lotus shaped jadite pendant with line carvings on the surface. Pierced with 4 holes and attached to a silver chain with old silver spacers interspersed with jade beads.

Necklace composed of 2 small kidney shaped jadite pieces with coin and bat design and joined at the center by two coral beads and a round jadite carved with head of a heron bird. Attached to a silver chain Choker Necklace composed of 2 small kidney shaped jadite pieces with coin and bat design and joined at the center by a carnelian bead. Attached to a silver chain.

Necklace composed of a jadite shaped as a butterfly with carvings of butterfly motif on both sides. Attached to a silver chain with antique silver spacers and other old components Choker Necklace composed of 2 large kidney shaped jadite pieces with coin and bat design and joined at the center by an amethyst bead. Attached to a silver chain.

BRACELETS

The bracelets in this section comprise tiny pieces of jadite recovered from garment or hat decorations, buttons, hair ornaments especially hairpins used during the Qing dynasty.


Bracelet of 5 small sized jadite pieces in various classic shapes and designs linked with new crystal beads


Bracelet of a pair of jadite Mandarin ducks linked by coral, Chinese pearls and antique silver links.


Bracelet of 5 round pieces of jadite all with a carving of a heron's head.
Joined by 12th century faceted biconical carnelian beads.


Bracelet of 3 round pieces of jadite, joined by antique coral twigs and new silver beads.

GIRDLE-PENDANTS

Jade pendants were worn as girdle ornaments in ancient times by scholars, the noblilty, confucian gentlemen, and ladies. The pendants linked together by means of silk threads would hang chatelaine-like from the girdle. The wearers as they sallied round would delight in the musical sound of tinkling stones rubbing against each other. The jade pieces were often meaningful pieces, gifts expressing friendship among men or tokens of affection and rememberance between lovers. In the period of the Zhou dynasty,(1027-221 BC) the girdle-pendant chateline consisted of seven symetrical pieces of carved jade pendants arranged in classical order. This has evovled with time.

I find the idea of a jade chatelaine interesting and in the following examples have tried to recreate some semblance with pieces of antique jade. The girdle-pendants in the Zhou and Han times must have been chunky, mystical stones. Alas my creations using antique carved pieces can only recall a shadow of their glory. Nevertheless, for whatever its worth, here is my rendition of 3 girdle-pendant chatelaines.

Comprising 2 semi-circular carved jadite and 2 long carved jadite hairpins. All attached to an antique silver chain Comprising a semicircular jadite, a jadite duck, a lotus-shaped jadite ending with three tiny jade flowers. Interspersed by antique coral beads and all attached to an antique silver chain

Comprising a small lotus-shaped jadite, a triangular carved jadite, a semi-circular carved jadite, a rectangular carved 'fu' jadite, a large lotus-shaped jadite and ending with three jadite fishes. Linked by a glass bead and Chinese pearls and attached to antique silver chain

JADE PAIRS

Jade masters in old China seemed to have a fondness for carving jade pieces in pairs. Or is it a Chinese cultural trait to view anything in pairs as auspicious? And so we have pairs of ducks, phoenixes, dragons, bees, butterflies, chickens .......you name it and they come in pairs. Here are my examples of some auspicious pairs.


A pair of nephrite phoenixes
Did they once grace a genteel
ladies' garment ?

A pair of white nephrite bees on a
bamboo branch

A pair of smiling nephrite lions

A pair of white nephrite parrots amidst foliage A pair of jadite roosters. So cute !

LOTUS - A MUCH LOVED SYMBOL

No lotus-eaters, the Chinese are more likely to be lotus worshippers, judging from the prolitferation of lotus motifs on jade carvings that have accumulated over the centuries. Here is my humble collection of jade lotus:


Selection of nephrite and jadite lotuses

JADE ALBUMS

The remaining pieces in my jade collection which have not been used in handicraft projects are kept and displayed in albums. I got the idea from stamp and coin collectors who keep their tiny pieces of art neatly slotted for display in albums. Of late, collectors' albums have included phone card albums, sticker albums and even angpow albums, so the day may yet come when producers of albums may come up with an antique jade album ?? Meanwhile I make do by adapting coin albums for my purpose. Here are glimpses of my nephrite and jadite albums:

From the nephrite album From the jadite album


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