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Wednesday
Sep052007

The Reds are coming - New copies of Liangzhu Jades

In May 2005 I reported in my contribution “Red Jade” about the efforts of local jade carvers to reproduce Neolithic Liangzhu with their typical red blotches.

Last month, being again in Hangzhou and scouring the local antiquity markets, I came across now of  many examples, more or less accomplished, of Liangzhu Bi’s, pendants and axe blades showing the famous red blotches.

This hitherto difficult to achieve “ancient Liangzhu red jade stain” seems to have been be mastered by more cravers and is used to help to convince unaware buyers that they are getting a 4000 year jade old artifacts for few hundreds of dollars.

As reported earlier, the base material is nephrite jade from Liaoning, in the North East of China, which is more colorful than Jade from Xinjiang and which, via a chemical treatment is whitened. In this process certain areas of the jade turn into a brick to orangey red not unlikely the coloring which real Liangzhu jades have experienced during a prolonged residence in waterlogged and slightly acidic ground. This staining is not the red stain found in Shang and Western Zhou burials and jades.

For those which track “unauthorized” copies of Liangzhu Jades, I suggest that they should use x-ray diffraction and x-ray fluorescence analysis to compare Liaoning jade material with the offered “guaranteed 4000 year old” Liangzhu jades in collections.

Here some examples of real Liangzhu Jades with red stains.

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Liangzhu culture cong  from the Fan Shan site

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Monster riding a mythical animal on the great cong - Red stains developed during residence in the ground

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Detailed view of the reddish stain

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Ancient Liangzhu Fan Shan Bi

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Ancient Liangzhu Fan Shan pendants with red stains

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Ancient Liangzhu Fan Shan Bi

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Liangzhu Culture reddish Bi as reported by Jessica Rawson in her book on Chinese Jades  on page 132

 

And now the Liangzhu Jade copies with reddish stains as actually found on the antiquity markets in Hangzhou

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A large Bi with carved monster faces and reddish stains not unlikely the Rawson Bi

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Another view of this Liangzhu Bi copy

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Price of this Bi: about 200$US when purchased in Hangzhou - it may be sold for 20 to 50x more via unscrupulous
antiquity dealers in Chinese and foreign marketplaces

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Small Bi copy with carvings and reddish staining. Note that this red stain is not on the surface only but has depth

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Large Liangzhu Culture Bi copy with reddish stains made by my "deep throat" contact  just north of the Fan Shan site

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Detail view of the red areas

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Large Liangzhu culture pendant copy

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Detailed view of the surface

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Liangzhu culture axe blade copy with red areas

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Detailed view of the red areas in the hole area showing the depth of the local color change.

 

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