Published: March 27, 2001
Collecting Jade in Birmingham, Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – An exhibition of one of the most highly treasured stones in the world is on view at the Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) through May 27. “: Fifty Years of Collecting Jade in Birmingham” will feature approximately 80 intricately carved pieces of jade dating from the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) to the Twentieth Century.
The majority of objects are derived from 13 Birmingham collectors; these are augmented with several masterpieces from the museum’s permanent collection. This exhibition will be on view in the Arrington gallery and is part of the Museum 50th Anniversary celebration.
With its dazzling translucency, variegated hues, and smooth even texture, jade has enjoyed a surprising longevity in the history of Chinese art. During the long period of changing social and political climates in China, jade performed a variety of roles and functions. For many Chinese, it possessed magical powers used to bring good luck, protect from misfortune and ward off evil omens. For scholars and the wealthy, it represented superior virtues, a respect for antiquity, and signified social status within society.
“” will present objects used in ceremonies in the palace (musical chimes, scepter), writing implements for scholars (ink stones, brush holders), and personal ornaments for members of both wealthy and common households (fan holders, vases, pendants). Highlights include “Reclining Horse,” “Cup and Saucer,” and an intricately carved “Incense Burner,” each illustrating the variety of hues and textures found in this precious stone.
Beyond maintaining its traditional significance and value, jade continues to remain popular and is adored by the Chinese of all ranks and classes. Specifically for jade collectors, it continues to be viewed as the most valuable of all precious stones. By combining traditional forms with modern styles, the art of jade carving has reached a new summit in its artistic development, while still remaining an eternal symbol of China’s magnificent culture.
The exhibition will also present visitors with illuminating about the various colors and materials of jade, the process of jade-making and the cultural associations of jade. A 32-page full-color catalogue will be available featuring more than 40 objects from the exhibition and essays on the development and connoisseurship of Chinese jade.
Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to view the Museum’s Asian Art Collection, the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind in the Southeast, comprising well over 3000 objects.
For information, 205-254-2565.
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