Sunday, February 3, 2019

Welcome to Lunar New Year of the Pig 2019

Although Pigs are not one of my favourite collectibles, nevertheless I will still uphold the good ole lunar new year tradition and dig up some odds and ends to celebrate Pig Year 2019

To my surprise I found quite a few, 12 to be exact of pigs made from jade, agate, glass and pottery. Their vintage range from ancient time to present day. Of the 12 pigs below 11 are from Chinese culture with one odd one out,. Can anyone guess which one?😊

12 little piggies

I will describe and enlarge each pig in detail. Starting with the oldest first, below is the little piggie from Xizhou dynasty (1046-771BC) see related link

2cm x 1cm
Next in order of age are 4 pigs made from jade and agate shown below maybe from China's Han dynasty (206BC -220AD) as they exhibit the characteristics and carving styles of Han dynasty pigs. The Han pigs are long and lank carved with the Han ba-dao (8 cut) style. The top two pigs are carved from jade and bottom  two are made from agate. The bottom two are also beads as the have perforations.

Han dynasty pigs made from jade and agate

A pottery pig from Tang dynasty (618-906AD) is shown in following picture.

Pottery pig from Tang dynasty

5 modern day pigs made from jade, glass and crystal  shown below

These 5 are from the 20th century

And so .... reader you guessed it the odd one out is the agate little pig from Myanmar's Pyu Dynasty (around 2nd century BC -11th century AD)

Snout nose pig from Pyu dynasty

The ancient piggies are a bit sombre coloured and so to add de rigueur festive color to this post are 3 little pinkie piggy ang pows.

Happy Lunar New Year of the Pig 2019

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Some of my favourite things

Some of my favourite things....

Purple turtle on golden sand
Wee bird soars high on fragile wings
And a cool cicada that sweetly sings....

my favourite things

...these are some of my favourite beady things that I'd like to share during this season.

All three creatures are beads and have perforations for stringing. They may date as far back as the Pyu dynasty (around 2nd century BC to 11th century AD) and comes from Myanmar.  Here's a closer look at each of them starting from the amethyst  turtle.

Very tiny turtle measures 2 cm in length

Next is the rose quartz bird 

Height of rose quartz bird 1.5cm

Last the cool cicada is also made from rose quartz

Height of cicada 2cm

And to wish beaders and collectors all over the world a Merry Christmas and Beadiful New Year, I have decorated pine cones with assorted beads and topped them with one ancient jade (rein)Deer.

Happy  Jade Collecting and Beading Season

Little green deer from Xizhou dynasty or later sends greetings

Friday, October 5, 2018


This attractive dark green beads' necklace is another junk store purchase. It has a large central bead with 36 smaller  beads

Necklace of dark green beads and a larger central  bead

At a glance the dark green beads resemble jade but are actually made of glass.

Not jade looks more like glass

Could this be a 1920s necklace ? Because the glass, on examination is not so well made and the bead ends show a whitish powdery substance, it may well be modern.  Nevertheless it does look rather attractive at a glance.

Could be modern beads

The large focal bead is different from the other beads and has a perforation on the underside. I wonder what is the purpose of this perforation which does not go through the entire bead. As can be seen from the enlargement the green glaze is also flaking off

a perforation in the largest bead.

Nevertheless it sits well on my old celadon vase.

Green bead necklace on old celadon vase.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A set of Small Jade Ornaments from the Liangzhu Culture 3300-2300BC

A set of ancient jade ornaments  comprising 10 tubular jade beads strung with turquoise beads, a small slit ring (jue), a small disc (bi)and a small huang. All purchased in Hangzhou and purportedly from the Liangzhu Culture (3300-2300 BC) The stone, patina, and shape of the items do resemble Liangzhu artefacts so there is a good chance that these are of the period. Also Hangzhou is the site of Liangzhu culture makes the possibility more likely.

Set of ancient jade ornaments

The ten tubular beads are interspersed with turquoise beads which may not be from the same timeline.

Ten tubular beads with turquoise beads

According to research the slit ring or jue (2.3cm)  on left is an ear ornament and are often strung with the bi disc (2cm) on right and huang below

Slit ring (jue) and small bi (disc)

The small arch shaped huang measures 5cm and must have been part of a longer necklace. Each end of the huang is drilled with a hole and a groove.

Jade huang with hole and groove at both ends

The hole and groove at both ends may represent they eyes and mouths of a dragon. Later versions of  jade huangs have dragon carvings at both ends so this may be an early version. This is entirely my own conjecture.

Looks like an eye and a mouth

Unlike large ceremonial ritualistic objects  of the Neolithic period, these ornaments are small and minimalist but have a life of their own  If these beads and ornaments were exhibited in a museum, would they be arranged as below ?

Museum display

I don't have enough beads and ornaments to string into an elaborate strand but still managed to make quite a decent one. :)😊

Strung as a strand

Thursday, April 19, 2018

4 Ancient Jade Plaques with Line Carving

Here are 4 jade plaques or pendants that had me intrigued

Mottled olive green jade infused with cloudy patina

The jade is a light olive green, infused with cloudy white patina which does not corrode the jade. Instead oddly it seems to enhance it. With white  patina blooming all over them I cannot help but guess they are ancient pieces but I cannot really identify the exact period or which Chinese cultural group they belong to.

Which dynasty and which Chinese cultural group?

Round shaped and measuring 3 cm  diameter, each plaque has  3 small holes drilled near the edge . Each piece has a carving of  mythical  animal on one side. The line carvings retain traces of cinnabar.  Not sure if these red lines are the remains of cinnabar or some dealer just outlined it in red to make the drawings stand out. I have soaked the pieces in soapy water and the red lines have not disappeared. The reverse side is plain.

No Carvings on the back

To show  a better view I have lined up the following enlargements



Snake wrapped round a turtle


To add to the mystery each plaque is also very thin. What tools were used to carve these mythological animals without damaging the delicate jade. Or are these jade of younger vintage, although patina says otherwise. Another possibility,  were drawings newly added using modern tools ?

Finally, were they used as pendants, or worn as belts, strung as chatelaines or hung as part of a veil ??

Whatever, their history or vintage, I would still find them attractive and collectible.

Very collectible !

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lunar New Year of the Dog 2018

To usher in Year of the Dog 2018 I have assembled 9 Doggies from my collection. Here are the first 3 which hail from different periods of Chinese culture or history  bearing auspicious greetings on them.

 pottery dogs with auspicious greetings

Spotted dog on the right from Cizhou kilns of Sung dynasty (960-1279 AD)  In the centre dog with black nose likely from 19th century  and brown dog on left may date as far back as Chinese prehistory.

More doggie themes on snuff bottles  and one carved from rock crystal shown below. Strictly speaking these three are not mine but borrowed from Heng.

More doggie themes  for Year if the Dog

I could not find a single bead with dog motif  but manage to unearth 2 jade pendants with carvings of dogs

White jade pendants with dog carving.

Little Sophie my granddaughter has loaned me her gold hair toy dog to wish blog reader's good health and peace for CNY 2018

Gold Hair toy dog welcomes Year of the Dog 2018

And here is little Sophie's version of Welcome to  Spring (Chun Jie)

Sophie's Song of Spring

Monday, June 19, 2017

Jade Leis

I have found yet another use for my miscellaneous jade charms. By attaching them to a vintage silver chain,  a " jade lei" is formed.

Jade Lei composed of jade charms or amulets

According to wikipedia a lei is defined as :

Lei is a garland or wreath. More loosely defined, a lei is any series of objects strung together ... Often the composition of a lei determine the meaning behind a lei; a lei made using a hala fruit for instance is said to be connected to love, desire, ... etc 
For me the meaning behind my jade lei is just my love for jade, and here's a closeup look at my lucky charms.

close up of  charms on lei

The second lei I made mostly from white and off white pieces of vintage jade.

jade lei 2 on qing dynasty silver chain

Although carved from   lower quality jade  the charms in the second lei are no less interesting. An eclectic assortment of jade charms including  animals and insects,  as fish, rabbit, cicada and several  fruits, a hand and a fan are represented in the closeup below.

an assortment of jade charms from fan to hand

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Praise of Ancient Chinese Ornaments

This group of beads and pendants is made up of an interesting mix of bird and animal forms together with cylinders, barrel and tabular shapes. As they show characteristics of the middle Neolithic, Shang, Xizhou and Han dynasties (about 4000 BC - 220 AD) I am relating them broadly to these periods.

A selection of ancient beads and pendants

 There are four birds in the set and  I have a soft spot for the first three. Each bird measures approximately 2cm x 1.7cm. They have line carvings all over their bodies with holes drilled from head to feet and must have been used for stringing. Could date from Han dynasty (206BC- 220AD) or earlier.

Petite bird beads

 The fourth bird with outstretched wings  is also one of my favourites. Such birds have been recovered  from Hongshan Culture sites (about 4700Bc - 2900BC) but it's hard to confirm whether mine is Hongshan or Shang dynasty (1600 -1046BC) vintage. Because of its smaller size 3.2cm x3 cm I tend to believe it is a Shang model.  This is a soulful looking bird and the stone has been  abraded to show raised eyes and breast. There is also a centre band with minimal carving below the breast.
Soulful bird

 The reverse shows ox nose suspension holes  and a pair of grooves around the tail and wings. Toomarks are seen in the holes and grooves.
Reverse showing ox-nose holes and pair of grooves
Next are 2 small animals,  a pig bead (2cm x 1cm) pierced from top to bottom and a rabbit pendant (2.2cm x 1cm)with attachement hole at the nose.  I speculate that these are from Xizhou dynasty (1046-771 BC) which has many tiny animals in its repertoire.

Pig and rabbit

 These three cylindrical faience beads can also be dated to Xizhou dynasty  as they are commonly used in necklace assemblages (pei)of that dynasty. Longest cylinder measures 1.4cm

Faience beads

Barrel bead is 1.4cm long with  a foetus like (or maybe its a silkworm) carved in high relief,  with double collars on both ends. Need to do further research on the carving style to establish its time in history.

Foetus or silkworm carving

Tabular bead with turtle shell pattern is likely to be Shang dynasty vintage given the Shang dynasty's  frequent use of turtle shells for oracle divination. Measures 1.8 cm x 1.5 cm

Tabular bead with turtle shell pattern

There are grooves on both sides of the bead.

Grooves at both sides

 Bead with taotie motif is the next intriguing bead coming up.  According to Wikipedia
The taotie is a mofif commonly found on Chinese ritual bronze vessels from the Shang and Zhou dynasty. The design typically consists of a zoomorphic mask described as being frontal, bilaterally symmetrical with a pair of raised eyes and no lower jaw area.

The specimen I show measures 1.2 cm , is curved inwards ,with the top wider than the bottom. It has a large drilled hole from top to bottom with  the top part of the hole larger than the bottom and another perforation in the centre. The curved surface shows a pair of slanted eyes with cloud pattern eyebrows but lacks a lower jaw or mouth. Beads of this ilk have been used among other things,  as  finial or closing device  for necklaces particularly in the Xizhou dynasty.

Intriguing bead with taotie mask pattern

Showing the large drilled hole

And the uncarved reverse is slightly curved with two dents  at both ends. I am not sure what purpose the dents serve.
Reverse has two dents at the sid

Last but not least is the pendant with monster head motif. It is decorated with striations at  the top of the head perhaps indicating hair, with large slanting eyes and long nose but the mouth is not shown. Not sure whether this is the head of a monster or some fearsome animal but its portrayal is simply unforgettable.  It measures 2.7cm x 1.8cm  This bead pendant may be as early as Neolithic times.

Monster head or wild beast ?
 The reverse shows ox-nose perforations with toolmarks visible

Ox-nose perforations with tool marks

And to round up here is my priceless collection of ancient beads, birds, animals, monsters and taotie again.

In praise of ancient Chinese ornaments.

 Finally I'd like to add that none of these ornaments,  beads, pendants have been authenticated. I am just recording them for my own indulgence and to share with whoever cares to look. 😄
 I am also apologetic that I am not clear about the names of the stones or minerals that these ornaments were made from.

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