Chains Carved Out
of a Single Piece of Jade Rock
Chinese Jade Chain Vases
A personal view by
John Neville Cohen
The Chinese have revered and carved Jade and Nephrite for
generations, and still do.
The modern 20th century carvers use all the
latest machinery and technology to carve this very hard, brittle
material. But all of the antique jade carvings were lovingly made
by hand and have been highly valued throughout the ages.
Personally, I far prefer the antique jade carvings (up to the
first part of the 19th century) as these
were always carved from a single stone, with rather basic tools,
and they often took a very long time to complete.
Yet, most of these carvings have qualities that are far
more beautiful than the modern ones.
They managed to carve attractive bottles and vases that are
wonderfully hollowed out, sometimes through such a small opening
at the top, as is the case with Snuff Bottles, it is incredible how they
have been made, so that even the shoulders of the bottles are
What I also find fascinating are the amazing vases, with covers,
which are connected by a chain, where everything has been carved
out of just one stone! I
even know of some jade vases with covers that have a double
chain attaching the lid to the vase on either side.
There are some where the cover is separate and the double
chain is used to hang the vase from an elaborate, often pierced,
carved jade hanger.
I have not found any reference on how jade chains are carved
on the Internet, or anything about jade-chained vases so I
decided to publish this article. But I did find an interesting YouTube.com video, on
how to carve chains from a single piece of wood (by searching
YouTube for ‘wood carving chain’)
and I presume this is how the chains would also have
been carved in other materials, including jade.
But to consider how difficult it must be to conceive of carving a beautiful well
proportioned (well hollowed out) vase, plus a perfectly
fitting cover, with a long chain of evenly formed links, all
to be carved out of a single jade boulder is something I find
Which brings me to the question of value. For some reason, currently, Chinese jade-chained vases
are not that highly valued, in monetary terms, compared with other
antique jade carvings. This is because connoisseurs
and antique jade collectors consider them, as nothing
more than cabinet pieces, simply made for
display rather than for use, and
worse still they were only made for the export market!
too, as a collector, tend to value more the Chinese carvings that
were made for personal use; such as pendants, snuff bottles,
water droppers, archer's rings and handling pieces. But as there are such
an amazing amount of high quality skills involved,
in carving these chained vases, I do feel that these lovely works of art
should be far more highly
Fashions do exist in the collecting world and I am sure one day, these
chained vases will be highly sought after.
The author has been a very keen collector for
many years in helping to create ‘The Cohen Collection’.
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Chains, Carved Out of a Single Piece of Jade Rock - Chinese, Jade, Chain Vases, John Neville Cohen, Chinese, vases, connected by a chain, carved out of a single stone.