To the great advantage of the beauty of their art, Chinese carvers of jade were guided by themes and decorative motifs in the shaping of their carvings and the choices of decorative motifs adorning them[Ref1-7]. 

In the Neolithic Era of China ritual jade carvings found in burials reflecting the cosmology of the heavens and the social status of the buried person appeared. The bi disc appeared circa 3400 BC and the cong appearing circa 3300 BC were complementary to each other[Ref8,9]. The circular bi disc with a hole at its center as shown in Figure 1 represented the heavens and the cong with its square cross section with a hole at its center as shown in Figure 2 represented the earth below appeared. Jade carvings of burial objects which reflected attributes of social status, such as authority and power such as the beautiful blade shown in Figure 3 and the coiled dragon amulet shown in Figure 4 appeared in the late Neolithic era 

Themes and design motifs from the philosophies of Taoism beginning in the 3rd-4th Centuries BC[Ref10] and Confucianism beginning within the time span of 551-479 BC[Ref11], the Buddhist Religion from the 1st Century AD[Ref12], and mythology with a timeline spanning from 36,0000 years before The Creation to 2852 BC[Ref13] have been lasting influences in jade and jadeite carving into the present day

Taoism embraces nature in its emphasizing the coexistence and harmony between humanity and nature[Ref14]. These relationships can be seen in the jade mountain carvings featuring notable men, such as scholars or leaders of society or of villagers in forest settings as shown in Figures 5 and 6 Appreciation of nature in Taoism also appears in the rich symbology accorded to both animal and plant forms adorning carved jade art objects as shown and described in Figures 7-10. 

The innate respect accorded to men of learning and leaders of the royal court and of society in Confucianism[Ref15] may also have influenced the symbology of jade mountain carvings and statues of court functionaries as shown in Figures 11-15.

Four categories of images of different levels of beings in Buddhist cosmology are found in Chinese jade carvings: images of The Buddha, images of Bodhisattvas, images of deities, spirits, heavenly beings, kings of wisdom, and guardian god that serve as protectors of Buddhism[Ref17]. Carved images of The Buddha and other deities are shown and described in Figures 16-22.

Themes from Chinese mythology have been richly incorporated in jade carvings. Carvings of historical humans, animals, plants, and places from Chinese mythology are shown and described in Figures 23-29.

Neolithic Ritual and Ornamental Jade Carvings

Figure 1. Late Neolithic Bi disc carved from nephrite jade, Liangshu culture circa 3300-2400 BC[Ref18].

Figure 2. Late Neolithic cong carved from nephrite jade Liangzhu culture circa 2200 BC[Ref19].

Figure 3. Ritualistic Chinese jade blade, Neolithic Longshan culture (2900 Bc to 2100 BC)[Ref 20,21]

Figure 4. Neolithic carved jade dragon amulet, Neolithicc[Ref22]

Jade and Jadeite Carvings with Taoist Themes and Motifs

Figure 5. Carved jade mountain depicting gathering of scholar-officials composing poetry at Lanting, the Orchid Pavilion[Ref23]. Carvings of mountains embody respect for nature and the desire to find refuge in tranquility[Ref14]. The presence of scholars reflects the respect for them embodied in Confucianism[Ref23,24,25].

Figure 6. Carved jade mountain with villagers working in the field with poem by Emperor Quinlong praising village farmers[Ref27].

Figure 7. Carved jade tree with birds[Ref28].

Figure 8. Carved jade deer which are symbols of wealth and long life[Ref29,30].

Figure 9. Carved jade vase decorated with a Zingzhi mushroom which a symbol of long life[Ref30,31].

Figure 10. Carved jadeite peach with monkeys; the peach is a symbol of both
Longevity and springtime, where somewhat ironically the monkey can symbolize trickery[Ref]30,32.

Jade Carvings with Confuscian Themes and Motifs

Figure 11. Carved jade mountain with Confucius and student[Ref33]

Figure 12. Statue of General Kwan Guan carved from white jade[Ref34,35].

Figure 13. Carved mossy jade statues of male and female court officials[Ref36,37].

Figure 14. Decoration on Royal Seal of  the Chinese Emperor Quinlong. 18th Century AD[Ref38].

Figure 15. Printing surface of Royal Seal of the Chinese emperor Quinlong, 18th Century AD[Ref38].

Figure 16. Chinese carved jadeite statue of The Buddha, Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912 AD[Ref39,40]

Figure 17. Jade statue of reclining Chinese Emperor Shouhao[Ref41,42].
Figure 18. Celadon jade statue with pearls of the Buddha Shakyamuni,
the founder of Buddhism, Quinlong Period (1736-1795)[Ref43,44].

Figure 19. Chinese carved jade statue of the Maitreya Buddha (Happy Buddha)[Ref45.46].

Figure 20. Chines carved white jade statue of Vidyaraja a Wisdom King and deity in Buddhism[Ref47.48].

Figure 21. Jadeite statue of the Bodhisattva Guan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion

Figure 22. Jade carving of a lotus blossom, the flower of Buddhism[Ref51,52].

Jade and Jadeite Carvings with Themes and Motifs from Chinese Mythology

Figure 23. Celadon jade statue of a recumbent Qilin (Dragon Chimera)[Ref53,54].

Figure 24. Chinese grey-green and russet jade mountain with Pangu, the 
Creator of earth, holding a shovel and emerging a cave with whorls of
smoke and a dragon beneath[Ref55,56].

Figure 25. Chinese yellow jade carving of monkey[Ref57].

Figure 26. Nephrite jade carving of a Rui Shi (Guardian Lion, Foo Dog)[Ref58,59].

Figure 27. Carved jade mountain with Yu the Great subduing the Great Flood with hammers, axes, and levers by redirecting the flow of water[Ref60,61].

Figure 28. Chinese jade carving of a Fenghuang (Phoenix) with lotus flower[Ref62.63.

Figure 29. Jade carving of Nuwa, the mother goddess of Chinese mythology, repairing the sky[Ref64,65].


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Ref 11. Professing Faith: For Confucius, teaching and service was his prayer – Redlands Daily Facts

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