Subject:Re: hongshan jade
Posted By: Bill Mon, Apr 23, 2012
Hi, Lee: Thanks for posting your pig dragon. Is its real color more celadon than its picture shows? It looks kind of celadon (inside) with a brown crust outside.
With such low resolution picture, it was very difficult to see how good your zhulong is. If it was indeed made of high quality celadon nephrite jade (S.G. equals to and higher than 2.92 and MOH hardness of 6.0 or higher), then it is quite possible that it was made of those old xiu yu (nephrite) there used to be available in Liaoning area which are now extinct. This type of nephrite is very similar to the quality of Hetian nephrite jade but there was no record of its original source. There is rumor that nephrite rocks can still be found in Liaoning area but those are sugar jade (tan color) and I cannot confirm its availability. So far almost most of the xiu yu (xiu yan jade) that came out of Xiu Yan (or Liaoning area) now are basically serpentine that can be scratched. I did see some dark green (some almost black) older serpentine jade that could not be scratched but with low SG (2.50 or lower). The dark green (bi yu) nephrite jade used to make large Hongshan C dragons is the type of Manassa bi yu that Mr. Chou Nam Chuen believes was one of the credible material used for authentic Honshan pieces due to their non-availiabilities. The problem is if my memory serves me correctly, none of the large C-dragons were ever excavated (documented). Also, I have yet seen the pictures of any known excavated pig dragons (may be on purpose so that forgers cannot fake them) on any books or web sites. Therefore, I cannot say for sure there are any known excavated pig dragons (documented). Since pig dragon is the most faked Hongshan carving because if its popularity, therefore unless one can study those pig dragons in reputable Chinese museums or study under Prof. Gao Dashun, most of us simply lack the knowledge of hoping to authenticate a HS pig dragon, especially by pictures alone. I would like to see the top of this pig dragon and some close ups of its small hole, large center hole and its mouth, also its nostril, these are the places which may give you some hints in how good your pig dragon is. Hopefully, may be Diasai can drop in and say a few words here because one time there was a guy who e-mailed me after reading some of my postings here, then sent me two of his "genuine" pig dragons (made of celadon nephrite jade) to trade for some of my HS pieces. He also said he was an HS jade expert and volunteered to teach me how to appraise and authenticate pig dragons. Luckily, Diasai told me both of his pig dragons were fakes. I almost could not get back my pieces from him (those are not my best pieces though). Therefore, I understand how difficult it is to acquire any genuine HS jade carvings. Everything has to be right and even then it is very difficult to authenticate them because who you can trust? It seems even some of these so-called Chinese HS jade experts had a price.
The really credible Hongshan jade material I had seen on excavated or authenticated HS jade pieces are those that were made of beautiful (with shinny luster) yellow (not greenish yellow) jade. I wish I could test and see if they are nephrite jade because it is almost impossible to find any TRUE yellow nephrite jade. If they are serpentine jade, I believe they cannot be scratched because only good quality jade can have this type of beautiful gem luster and not corroded after such long burials.
One misconception that most Hongshan jade collectors (or should I say HS style jade collectors) has is:
they believe because Hongshan era was Neolithic therefore its jades have to be weathered and corroded on their surfaces and looks
This is simply not true because:
(1) Many genuine Hongshan pieces were made of quality stone that had high SG and hardness and beautiful polishing which protected them from corrosion even after long burials. Many genuine HS pieces look like "new" (gem like) after they were just cleaned/brushed (softly) with nothing but soap and water.
(2) Many HS tombs were on high ground (like in the middle of a hill) and very often the jade pieces were stored in almost air-tight stone coffins that did not allow water to seep through.
The reason any genuine HS jades are so valuable is because of their rarity, quality material and superb workmanship (both quality of carving and polishing). Unfortunately, unless one can examine and study the carving techniques being employed on some known excavated HS pieces, using what they learn to authenticate other non-excavated pieces, the chance of any of us who can tell for sure if any piece is genuine HS is not good. Some time even respected HS jade experts could not agree on a piece. That is simply unfortunate. It would be much appreciated if you would share with us your expertise on the Hongshan jades and tell us how you can authenticate any HS pieces using this pig dragon as an example. I had been studying HS jades very diligently for a while a few years ago but after a while you had to give up on the hope of acquiring any genuine HS pieces on reasonable prices because for every single genuine pieces, there would be about 9,999 fakes. Thanks.
PS If Daisai happens to read my message, please be kind enough to drop me an e-mail on my AOL e-mail address. I tried to send a message to his old address today but it was returned undelivered. Thanks in advance.