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Subject:Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Richard Sun, Apr 08, 2018 IP:

I hope someone can help me identify this mask.
I bought it in an antique store in Madrid (Spain). The mask looks very old to me.
Hope some one can help me.
The mesures are 13 cm higth x 18 cm wide and weight 900 gr.
Thank you in advance.

Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Corey Mon, Apr 09, 2018

No, sorry. It's not old. It's modern repro of excavated Xia/Shang dynasty bronzes and jades.

Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Richard Tue, Apr 10, 2018

Thank very much for your opinion.

I did though so as well when I bought it!!!!
But some details that I saw on the piece, made me change my mind and give the piece second change!!!

Please allow me ask you a question.

How do you come to this conclusion?

It is because the carving style does not mach with the carving style your previous pointed?
Or it is the overall impression?

The reason because Im asking you this it is because you don’t
mention anything about the veins formations on the cavities..
and some others evidence like the “Dissolved pints” with clear mineral formation.

Do you think they are fake?

I really don’t know how easy it is to falsify those evidence in ancient objects now days.

For me mineral formations on cavities, calcification among other factors are a good sing to continue showing interes in the object and spend some time doing research.

Please don’t miss understand me!!!! I see you are an active member of the forum and I do respect your opinion. Im always willing yo learn.

I will try to post some others pictures with a better resolution.

Please note, in the pictures I attach I try to show the details I mentioned before.

Best regards.


Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Corey Thu, Apr 12, 2018

It's almost certain to be fake. These things are produced in huge numbers in China. They use all kinds of treatment to make them look old. The change you've got a real one is very small in my opinion. Some of the older 19th/20th ct. reproductions might be worth collecting because somcetimes they are well-carved and even made in Khotan pebble meterial. But the majority of them are more or less massproduced for the tourist market, an very ofthe made in other materials the nephrite jade. That's just my thougths. You can find authentic archaic jade out there, sometimes for bargains, but you need to have an eye for it. And even then I'd guess it's almost impossible to sell them for the prices you see at Sotheby's, unless you have solid provenance. A bit unfair actually, if the objects are legally acquired, but that's the way things are

Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Super Thu, Apr 12, 2018

Hi, Richard:

I have to agree with Corey in his evaluation of this piece. I saw similar pieces being sold as that of Lungshan (Longshan) culture or other Neolithic cultures a while ago.

There is always a misconception of many jade collectors/lovers that to be authentic Neolithic or archaic jade carvings, their surfaces must be very corroded or have all these weathering. To me that is not necessarily true. Please see my recent thread:

Authentic large Neolithic and archaic jade carvings, with excavation documentations, are actually quite rare. Most of them can only be found in reputable museums or hands of well known jade experts. Even the several well known (about 8 pieces?)large Hongshan C dragons, in the best of my knowledge, were not documented for their excavations, but their authenticity were later established by Hongshan experts.

I would stay far away from any Chicken-bone-white jade carvings,especially those large sized ones because I believe 99.9999% of them are "fakes" and some are go good that they even fooled auction houses and museums. Large jade carvings, even today are both costly and time consuming to "make". During Neolithic and ancient China, without any iron tools and high polishing material, it would be almost impossible or extremely difficult to cut or "carve" any large jade pieces. Most large jade carvings were used in different rituals and burials and therefor they would be well preserved, protected and treasured. Therefore their numbers were extremely rare during Neolithic time and early Chinese dynasties such as the Shang and Zhou dynasty. The burning of them in rituals or burials occurred in Neolithic time and Shang dynasty. The Liangzhu culture was known to burn Congs and therefore many of the authentic Liangzhu congs were chicken bone white.
Some zongs, even they were burnt but due to the fire temperature (not high enough) or jade material, their color would be brown instead of chicken bone white. The abstract of this article:
A Review of Some Recent Research on Early Chinese Jades

Janet G. Douglas

discussed early jade carving methods and talked about jade burning (heating):


Some physical and chemical changes that occur with the heating of nephrite are known from studies of the amphibole group minerals, tremolite-actinolite (Whittels, 1951; Vermaas, 1952). The dehydration of actinolite occurs in three stages, including the loss of adsorbed water, the loss of structural water, and a very small quantity of absorbed water. Studies using differential thermal analysis (DTA) show that an exothermic reaction takes place between 815°C and 824°C, and is associated with the oxidation of the small amounts of ferrous iron present in the mineral. This oxidation is not associated with any structural change in the crystal structure. Structural water is liberated at temperatures between 930°C and 988°C, and at lower temperatures with increasing iron in the mineral structure. This change occurs through a solid-state reaction:


Detection of heating in jades using minimally invasive analytical methods is of interest because some jades may have been heated in antiquity prior to working or during burial rituals involving burning. Heat treatment may also be used in the production of modern-day forgeries to make jade appear older due to natural weathering or alteration. At the Freer and Sacker galleries, XRD and FTIR have been used to detect heating in jade, but these techniques have been found to be successful only if the object has been heated to at least 900°C (Douglas, 2001).

In this study a nephrite pebble was sliced and heated in 100°C increments"

Therefore, IMHO, your large jade mask, its chicken bone white appearance was create by burning, heating or chemical. Its weathered surface was created by hitting the surface with sharp metal objects and then corroded its surface with either acid or alkaline (like NaOH) Then added some cinnabar or other chemicals to create the illusion that this was an archaic burial piece.

The telltale sign though, IMHO, is its material. I had spent more than a decade in studying jade material, because it is extremely difficult and time consuming to learn about ancient jade carving methods without accesses to large quantity of authentic archaic and antique jades, and without a good jade teacher while studying jade material is a bit easier. The material of this jade mask, again IMHO, is cheap serpentine (you can see the light green color under its chicken bone white surface) and this material is still readily available in today's China. This type of serpentine, unlike some so called bowenite, can be easily scratched, it was rare for any Neolithic cultures or during Shang dynasty to choose this type of material to make large ritual carvings.
As a matter of fact, most chicken bone white Lianzhu style congs such as this one:

were not even made of jade,but instead were made in large scale in jade factories inside China by molds (with white powder). You can goggle or search in this forum and will find pictures of these fake congs piled up inside the factory.
In short, I had yet seen any Liangzhu piecs, big or small, that are available for sales outside museums, including those from large auction houses, that appeared to be authentic to me.
My advise is staying far far away from buying any Liangzhu pieces. They could not be found and are very hard to be authenticated. For that matter, stay away from Neolithic jades. You may have better luck in finding a diamond in a public diamond mine. (we have a few of these public diamond mines in USA where you can search for real diamonds that can be worth thousands of dollars)

That said, it is not really a bad idea in buying some study pieces, if they are not expensive and it is fun to discuss them with others. I once bought a large Liangzhu piece, with the ghost fact, that were made of nephrite with great weathering but finally learned it could only be a fake. But since it was made with nephrite and with delicate carving of its ghost face, even in today's market, it would be expensive to make similar fakes. I also bought another beautiful jadeite dragon turtle, supposedly antique, only concluded that it was made withing the last century, but due to sharp price rise of jadeite, I believe my pieces is now worth a lot more than what I originally paid for it. Therefore, I always judge any jade pieces first by their material. Do you know that some nice Qing dynasty Hetian jade carvings that were available in the USA are actually cheaper that modern Hetian jade carvings sold in mainland China? Therefore there are still bargains to be found. One just need to have sharp eyes and the know-how. These days, I would avoid any jade carvings from China though because if they are good, they would already be sold inside China. Again, thanks for sharing with us.


Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Richard Tue, Apr 17, 2018

Dear Super.

First of all I would like to thank you and all of the forum members for your time and explanations.

Special mention to the time you dedicate sharing your knowledge with others members!!

The ability to falsify and reproduce any type of piece nowadays makes the art of collecting very worrying.

Before finishing with this post I would like to mention a couple of things.
In the area of ​​the nose the figure presents a significant amount of alienated fractures.
Those fractures are almost impossible to do by hand with out breaking this fragile and fine area of the mask.
Also small minerals formations inside the cavities are something very interesting when studying all kinds of ancient objects not only jades or similars.

Minerals formations don’t take place from one day to another and not easy to fake.

This is just an appreciation and dont have to mean any thing.

Best regards


Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Super Wed, Apr 25, 2018

Dear Richard:

Thanks for sharing your jade carvings and thoughts on them with us. You did bring up some very good points in supporting the authenticity of this jade mask. A while ago there was a jade forum which was sponsored by Skylink at Hong Kong and a few jade lovers also used mineralization found on jade pieces as evidence for their authenticity and ages. Unfortunately, very often broken or damaged archaic jade pieces were used to "make" imitation archaic jade pieces. Any stones could be centuries old and all mineralization found on them could be genuine, yet they could be used to make "new" pieces. During the Qing dynasty, the royal jade carvers "made" quality fake Neolithic jade carvings so good that even the Emperor Qianlong was fooled. (Of course he was told they were fakes).

The problem with any large Neolithic or archaic jade masks are:

They more than likely were made to be burial pieces which would be used to cover the faces of the deceased and therefore they should be well protected. Therefore, why would they be turned chicken bone white color (resulted from burning or heating in very high temperature)? Why would there be any fractures on this jade mask and why would it have contacts with soil which resulted in any types of mineralizations? Most important of all, where can one see this type of jade mask from either Neolithic China or ancient China?

On page 71 of this jade article:"The Circulation of Jades in Early China":

it shows the picture of a late Western Zhou burial jade mask which was made of many smaller pieces and not one single piece.

Because it was extremely difficult to find large jade material and very costly to carve a big jade mask in Neolithic time or ancient China. (see pic)
Also, there was always an urgency in the timing of any burials and therefore it really did not have enough time to prepare any large burial jade pieces.

But the telltale sign of any large "Neolithic" "jade" pieces are the material used to make them.
To be called jade, by the definition of Chinese, it has to be a stone that is beautiful and possess the five virtues of a gentleman. Therefore, material of most archaic or ancient Chinese jade pieces are beautiful and cannot be scratched. Unfortunately, the material of this jade mask shown here, IMHO, was made of readily available Xiu Yan jade (Xiu Yu or serpentine), that could be scratched, that was burned (or heated, or treated by chemical), fractured and being altered to look "old". If you are willing to gamble, you can wash this piece, dry it and then use Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to polish it (or just leave Vaseline on its surface) for a while, all of the chicken bone white color will disappear and the celadon (light green) color of serpentine jade will appear. Of course, the resulted piece will just look like a modern piece.

In short, I really do not believe this jade mask can be an authentic Neolithic jade piece. No disrespect intended and again thanks for sharing with us.


These are two Neolithic jade masks that were being passed: (i.e. no bids)

Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Corey Thu, Apr 12, 2018

There is also the issue withe the more sophisticated fakes with calcification or weathering that looks almost excatly like the real thing. The calcification of your jade might look like real calficication at first glance, but I think it's somehow artificially applied. I bought some Zhou dynasty style jade carvings some years ago from Chinese dealers, that are really well carved, made in mutton fat quality pebble material and with convinglingly looking calcification, but they somehow lacks the refinement of the real ones. Probably older copies made when mutton fat quality jade was still relatively inexpensive.

There is an old thread on this board about a Han dynasty jade plaque of mine, where the other commenters said that the calcification is artificial. But I later posted examples from reliable sources with similar calcification. The other commenters have still to this date failed to explain how they can tell the difference. The material of the jade plaque also turned out to be pebble material mutton fat quality. That one I hold for a "possible" or "likely" authentic Han dynasty jade carving, although I don't expect to sell it for a fortune. Link:

Subject:Re: Help with this Jade mask .
Posted By: Skeeter Johnson Thu, Apr 12, 2018

Correct. Commercially made copy of an archaeological mask made in Guangzhou in the 1990's. The surface affect is superficial from brief burial. Some artificial staining using chemicals. Value is primarily decorative. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |