Yuka Kadoi. Exchanges of Shapes, Exchanges of Materials: Arts of Jade in Islamic Eurasia
Among the media of the decorative arts produced in pre-modern Eurasia, the nephrite hardstone known more commonly as jade exerted a lasting impact on the shaping of cultural identities across great swathes of Asia. A variety of jade objects produced in Islamic Iran and West Central Asia, as well as part of Islamic India, thus serve to illustrate one of the important patterns of cultural interaction between East Asia and the Islamic world.
In early East Asian cultural contexts, jade seems to have been esteemed more highly than gold or silver, reaching an equivalent status to that of diamond in modern times. In addition to its monetary value, this gemstone, together with bronze, became one of the important hierarchical parameters for the understanding of traditional Chinese aesthetical consciousness. The potential of jade and bronze was exploited by Chinese artisans for utilitarian purposes and, more importantly, for ritual use as early as the Neolithic period, and the two media continued to elicit inspiration throughout the ages.