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[Tidbits] Jade Mantis Pendant


#1

I use two criteria to judge art. If it looks exactly like what it’s
supposed to be. then it’s art. If it looks nothing like what it’s
supposed to be. then it’s art. There is of course. a third criteria.
If it only looks something like what it’s supposed to be. then it is
also art.?

That said. I bring you a jade praying mantis. Using the criteria set
above. it is art. Definitely! Not only that. but it’s rather pretty
too. Now here’s the thing of it. jade–as it turns out–is one of
the most difficult stones to carve. On the Mohs scale of material
hardness. nephrite and jadeite are 6.5 and 6.75 respectively. You can
not carve jade with steel. It’s not hard enough.?

But the Chinese craftsmen of the Neolithic era–around 1200 BC or
so–managed it with great skill. They used abrasive sands. They used
quartzite (7-7.5) and maybe even garnets (7.5) and they may even
have used diamond tipped tools (10). It is said they may also have
used sharks’ teeth. How did they do that back then? Hey…

let’s go fishing. I hear the sharks are abitin’. And so they popped
into their sampans and began their chants.

Here sharkie sharkie sharkie. It gets the Great Whites every time I
hear. And when Monstro reared up in front of their toothpick of a
boat. how did they kill it? Hey. Wu. Who me? Yeah. you, Wu. Punch it
in the nose. You punch it in the nose Chen.

But these are all technical details not worth delving into. What’s
important here is that they did catch the shark. pulled its teeth.
and used them to carve jade.

Jade played an important part in Chinese ornamentation. One quick
example is used in nuptial feasts. It is a cup having the form of a
cock (I assume they’re talking rooster here) from which both bride
and groom drank. This honor is due to a myth depicting the bird as
being so faithful to its mistress that it decided to die rather than
live without her should she happen to die first.

This has nothing to do with my mantis. it’s just a little lore I
thought I’d throw in gratuitously for the education of those who
strive for knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

Our mantis was found as part of a magnificent collection? of goods
found in the grave of queen Fu Hao. She had a collected of 755 jades.
of which our little beastie was but one. Jade work reached its
highest artistic levels during the period starting from 3600BC and
going forward to 2000BC. After that I guess it went somewhat
downhill.

So here it is. everything you ever wanted to know about jade but
didn’t ever really give enough of a rat’s tail to bother to ask. It
is this gap that I live to fill. So. you want to see? Hmm. You know
the routine by now. Go. Enjoy. Knock yourselves out.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits. may I
direct you to my home page at http://www.tyler-adam.com where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits. click it. and you will see represented on our
pages an image of a jade mantis which may or may not look like what
it is.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks.

Catch you all next week.

Benjamin Mark


#2
Our mantis was found as part of a magnificent collection? of goods
found in the grave of queen Fu Hao. She had a collected of 755
jades. of which our little beastie was but one. Jade work reached
its highest artistic levels during the period starting from 3600BC
and going forward to 2000BC. After that I guess it went somewhat
downhill. 

Thanks for the “historical jewelry” note. Her collection is referred
to at wiki/Tomb_of_Fu_Hao but the details are scant. What more can
you tell us about the others among the 755 jades? What are the
dimensions of your mantis? Drilling holes in jade must have been a
big accomplishment then. Is the mantis drilled?

Also, are there similar jade finds in other ancient Chinese tombs?
Is there enough to make some historical analyses of the
art and science of jade carving over the centuries in China? That
would be a great story.


#3

Benjamin,

Wonderful writing! I need another mantis in my garden and this one is
an extraordinary specimen. As soon as everyone is able to view her
and praise her, could you please send her to me for the summer? I
know she would thrive among my green beans and tomatoes.

Many thanks. Mary


#4
Unfortunately, right now I don't see any other jade pieces of that
era. 

Fair enough Benjamin. I understand that the thousands of jades from
Ancient Mexican cultures are now in museums and private collections.
Has anyone on Orchid made a study of those pieces from a historic
jewelry perspective? I think a world trip (tax deductible) by a
"jadeologist" for this purpose just might lead to a profitable book
and think of how enjoyable those business trips to Mexico, China,
Europe etc would be.