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
Jade and Jadeite Carvings with Taoist Themes and Motifs
Jade Carvings with Confuscian Themes and Motifs
Jade and Jadeite Carvings with Themes and Motifs from Chinese Mythology