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Asian Art

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China has the world's oldest living civilization. It's written history goes back almost 3,500 years, and the history told by it's artifacts and artwork goes back much farther. The oldest known works of Chinese art include pottery and jade carvings from the time of 5000 BC. Jade is a general term used to describe either jadeite or nephrite, known as true jade. It's composed of several minerals. It's smooth and rich in texture, but it's also extremely tough. It can be off-white, or dark green, and sometimes has a reddish tint. Authentic jade is cool and never translucent. The philosopher Confucius described jade perfectly when he said: "It is soft, smooth and shining- like intelligence. It's edges seem sharp but do not cut- like justice. It hangs down to the ground- like humility. When struckm, it gives clear, ringing sounds- like music. The strains in it are not hidden and add to it's beauty- like truthfulness. It has brightness- like heaven. It's firm substance is born of the mountains and the waters- like the earth." The material has been used since the Shang dynasty, which lasted from 1766-1022 B.C. They see it as a sign of wealth and authority and also as an object of beauty. The chinese word for jade is yu. During the Ming dynasty, the Chinese people thought that only green or white stones were true jade, and the other colors were called fu yu, or false jade. It was classified into nine different colors during the Tsin dynasty, and has more recently been classified into many different categories.

Jade is one of the touchest stones in the world, near the diamond because of overlapping fibers within the stone. Tons of pressure are needed to crush some of the larger pieces of jade. A single cut through a one foot cube of jade would take several weeks.

The ancient chinese people thought that jade had special powers, and they used it in rituals and ceremonies. It was also beleived to have medical uses, but the most common use is for decoration. Jade is not mined in China, but China is still considered the "home" of jade because the artists from China have learned to carve the stone better than the artists from any other country. The ancient artists would stare at rough pieces of jade, and then decide what they wanted to carve it into.

Chinese pottery is also an ancient form of art in China. It was first created in the pre-dynastic neolithic era. Some fragments of pottery are from 3,000 B.C. 4,000 years after that, the porcelain from the Sung and Ming dynasty, the most famous and beautiful porcelain in the world, was created. Although other countries also created China, the pottery originated in Asia. French porcelain was inspired by the delicate white



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