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Central Asian Plains
Islamic Expansion into Southern Asia
Classic Mughal Style Jades
Non-Classic Mughal Style Indian Jades
A Comparison between Mughal and Ottoman Jades
Western Asian and Eastern European Symmetry
Fragrant Concubine Brings Islamic Jades to Eastern Asia
Prosperity Comes with Hindustan Jades
Cross-cultural Exchange
The distribution of Islamic jade._open new window

Although Muslim cultures settled expansively in the past, areas where Islamic jades have been recovered are relatively few and far between. The Kunlun mountains in eastern Central Asia are the most significant source of nephrite jade; not only providing Chinese artisans with raw materials, but also those in the Timurid Empire in Central Asia (1370-1506), the Mughal Empire (1526-1857) in Southern Asia, the Ottoman Empire (1300-1923) in Western Asia, and even Eastern Europe as well.

The Huang-ming Pao-shun, or "Imperial Ming Treasured Instructions," records that, in the fourth year of the Yung-lo reign (1406), a jade bowl was received from the the Muslim inhabitants of Central Asia, but that it was returned. The Ming History also records that in 1445, the Chinese emperor Ying-tsung sent the Timurid ruler, Ulugh Beg, gifts of gold and jade.

In the early 16th century, the Timurid Empire collapsed, and descendants of the imperial line moved south to India to establish a new empire. As the emperor was descended from the Mongols on his mother's side, the empire was given the name "Mughal." The Mughal Empire was powerful and prospered through the 17th century. Emperor Shah Jahan recruited artisans from Europe and Persia to serve at the Mughal court, successfully melding European, Chinese, Central Asian and Indian artistic styles. The combination of these influences resulted in the classical Mughal-style of jade carvings, defined by plant, fruit and flower ornamentation , using the hard and cold qualities of jade to give praise to the liveliness of the natural world. The regions not ruled by the Mughal Empire in India, moreover, might also have been sites for jade carving as well.

Turkic peoples in Central Asia expanded westward into Western Asia and Eastern Europe to eventually found the Ottoman Empire. Even though Ottoman jade arts were not as highly developed as those of India, they nevertheless featured unique characteristics defined by stiffer, more symmetrical and stylized floral motifs.

In the second half of the 18th century, the Ch'ien-lung Emperor conquered the eastern part of Central Asia and renamed it "Sinkiang." A Uighur noblewoman was even sent to the Ch'ing court to be his concubine. Islamic jade arts from Central, Southern and Western Asia and Eastern Europe eventually flooded into Sinkiang and were in turn imported into the Chinese capital of Peking. Due to the emperor's appreciation of this so-called "Islamic style," it became fashionable in the jade markets in the late 18th century. New market demand not only resulted in jade forgeries being sent to the court as tribute, but it also stimulated Chinese jade artisans to incorporate exotic styles into their own works.

Cup in the Shape of a Bottle Gourd Cup in the Shape of a Bottle Gourd
Mughal Empire
Length: 16.6 cm, width: 12.8 cm, height: 4.7 cm
Enlargement 123

This blue green jade cup was carved in the shape of half a bottle gourd. The inside where the curving handle meets the body of the cup is carved in relief with a six-petal flower, the stamen of which is inlaid with gold thread and red precious stones. On the other side of the cup there is a lotus flower in bloom carved in relief, the stem and leaves of which extend down along the spine to the base of the handle. The flowers and leaves are carved in a natural, realistic way. This example probably dates to the mid 17th century, and entered the Ch'ing court in 1773. The Ch'ien-lung emperor composed a poem for it, which he had inscribed on the inside. He also had a silk tassel made for it.

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展期:2007/08/19~2007/12/20 陳列室:306  Period:2007/08/19~2007/12/20 Gallery:306