Art history/ Historiography, Museums/ Galleries / Collections / Exhibitions

Jade: Emperor's Pride, Artist's Excellence

Pathak, Anamika

Jade is a rare variety of mineral rock, admired and used for creating exquisite items of multifarious utility in different parts of the world from time immemorial. Its inherent qualities such as hardness yet not appearing so, translucent glossy surface almost to a point of luminescence and beautiful colours fascinated not only the minds of wise men like Confucius, but also craftsmen who exploited these qualities as well as its flaws in creating objects of desire. Soon these became the pride of emperors of the medieval period. The evidence of earliest workings on jade comes from China, sometime in the Neolithic period, and it is the only country having a long and continued tradition of jade carving till date. Jade objects were also immensely popular with the Islamic rulers such as the Timurids of Central Asia, Safavids of Persia, Ottomans of Turkey and Mughals of India and in other cultures too.' Most of these rulers had fascination for jade and had commissioned variety of objects to be made in particular colour, texture, style and design. These objects reflect the distinctive style of their patron's taste. The main thrust here is to highlight the variety of jade objects created during the Sultanate and Mughal period, with special reference to collection housed in the National Museum of India. Etymology of Jade and its Popular Beliefs The English word 'Jade' is basically a misnomer that was derived from the Spanish terms Piedra de hijada meaning stone of the loins and Piedra de rinones meaning stone of the kidneys. Both of these te...
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