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