The possible origins of the jade stem beaker in China

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Among jade artifacts created in early imperial times, vessels are especially noteworthy in that a large quantity of raw material and extraordinary craftsmanship is required to create them. Indeed, fewer than twenty jade vessels have been excavated to date. Discovered in tombs dated primarily to Western Han, these finds include three distinct vessel types: the ear-cup (erbei 耳杯), goblet (zhi 卮), and stem beaker. Substantial archaeological evidence suggests that the first two were adopted from lacquerware. The origin of the jade stem beaker, however, remains uncertain and invites further research. Focusing on that distinctive form, which seems to have existed for a brief period primarily within the Han period, this paper seeks to investigate its sources as well as its relationship to other finds within and beyond the Han Empire. By examining substantial data from widespread sites, this paper attempts to bring to light the incentives for patrons to select jade as a medium for these vessels. More broadly, it will also examine the contemporary status of jade. Copyright © 2012 EFEO.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-46
JournalArts Asiatiques
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Lam, E. H.-L. (2012). The possible origins of the jade stem beaker in China. Arts Asiatiques, 67, 35-46.


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