Chinese jade is any of the carved-jade objects produced in China from the Neolithic Period (c. 3000–1500 BC) onward. The Chinese regarded carved-jade objects as intrinsically valuable, and they metaphorically equated jade with human virtues because of its hardness, durability, and (moral) beauty.
Jade has been used in virtually all periods of Chinese history and generally accords with the style of decorative art characteristic of each period. Thus, the earliest jades, of the Neolithic Period, are quite simple and unornamented; those of the Shang (18th–12th century BC), Zhou (1111–255 BC), and Han (206 BC–AD 220) dynasties are increasingly embellished with animal and other decorative motifs characteristic of those times; in later periods ancient jade shapes, shapes derived from bronze vessels, and motifs of painting were used, essentially to demonstrate the craftsman's extraordinary technical facility.
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