At least 8,000 years ago, our ancestors discovered a beautiful stone – jade, while making polished stone tools – the start of a distinct jade-carving tradition. Ancient Chinese beliefs held jade to be the crystallization of the quintessence of heaven and earth. Thus, jade was sacred and often personified as well as endowed with aesthetic values. In remote antiquity, this translucent and elegant stone was not only a symbol of religious piety, wealth, and authority; it also embodied ideal rituals and morals. Following the Qin and Han Dynasties, Chinese jades gradually became less sacred and evolved into objects portending good luck and happiness.
In 2010, under the auspices of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, more than 80,000 ancient Chinese jades previously in the repository of the Chinese Cultural Heritage Information Centre became part of the National Museum of China collection. For this special exhibition we have selected some of the finest jade objects dating from the Neolithic times to the Qing Dynasty to be displayed together with pieces from the museum’s original collection that have seldom been on public view. These timeless treasures, with their exceptional enduring charm, reflect the traditions and tastes of the Chinese people throughout history.