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Jade in Iran

part 1

jade

(nephrite; Pers. yašm, yašb, yašf, yaṣb). An extremely small range of pre-Islamic Iranian jades have thus far been published, despite the very ancient employment of jade in eastern Iran.

 The known material is often of extraordinary refinement, and testifies to an extensive influence on other jadecarving cultures, including the Chinese.

 

JADE (nephrite; Pers. yašm, yašb, yašf, yaṣb). For at least two and a half millennia, Jade has been carved in the lands where Iranian languages have prevailed in various eras. The known material is often of extraordinary refinement, and testifies to an extensive influence on other jadecarving cultures, including the Chinese. Most of the major lapidary regions were in the eastern Iranian world, particularly in ancient and medieval Central Asia (q.v.), encompassing Sogdiana, Khotan (Ḵotan), and Bactria, as far as Farḡāna (qq.v.). This entry will be divided into three sections:

 

i. INTRODUCTION

Regional overview. Jade carving in pre-Islamic Central and Western Asia was largely an east Iranian and Turkic phenomenon, and the same holds true for the Islamic tradition. Under Muslim rule jade carving was probably widespread in the eastern parts of Persia, and it is likely that Samarqand, Balkh, Herat, and Nishapur (Nišāpur) were particularly important centers. This is not surprising, given the sophisticated and age-old lapidary traditions in the region, and the relative proximity to Khotan, the great classic source of rough jade.

The jades of India may be seen as a major but highly individualistic and prolific branch of the Iranian school. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Indian school was much influenced by the European hardstone carving tradition, while continuing to develop within the overwhelming nurture of the Indian artistic tradition and genius. The jade artifacts that originated in India between the 16th and 18th centuries were highly sophisticated, exhibiting refined craftsmanship. They were much appreciated in China, and many pieces have survived in former imperial collections; that of the emperor Qianlong (r.1735-96) is known to have been extensive and distinguished, and particularly noted for his commissioned inscriptions carved on many of the pieces (cf. Skelton, 1972, pp. 106-8; Teng, 1983, 2004).

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com


Other Links:

Seals and Sealings in Iranian History: part 1

Seals and Sealings in Iranian History: part 2

Seals and Sealings in Iranian History: part 3

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