Jade vessels in the Western Han mortuary context

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Imitation was a prevalent and constant practice in the material world, once distinctions of value occur among various materials. There are myriad examples of imitation throughout the ancient China, such as ceramic ding tripod, wooden bi disc etc., showing that it was popular and understandable to use inexpensive material to imitate objects made of valuable primary material. Jade imitation; however, seems to be a case of an inverse of this logic. Jade is esteemed as a premier artistic medium in China, and among jade artifacts created in early imperial times, vessels are especially sumptuous in the large quantity of raw material and extraordinary craftsmanship required to craft them. Indeed, fewer than twenty jade vessels have been excavated to date. Focusing on the Western Han (206 BC–AD 9) burial context, the discussion seeks to explore the notion of imitation not only for its astonishing jade excavation with jade vessels; but also for the fact some jade vessels have been mingled with their lacquer counterparts. By comparing substantial data from widespread sites, this paper attempts to bring to light patrons’ incentives for selecting jade as a medium for these vessels. More broadly, it will also examine the contemporary status of jade, in relation to the changes in value and position among various materials of the mortuary repertoire.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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Vessel
Imitation
Artifact
Burial
Raw Materials
Repertoire
Incentives
Logic
Artistic Medium
Excavation
China
Material World
Ancient China
Patron
Craftsmanship

Citation

Lam, E. H.-L. (2015, September). Jade vessels in the Western Han mortuary context. Paper presented at The 21st Annual Meeting of The European Association of Archaeologists (EAA GLASOW 2015), University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.