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Subject:Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Anita Mui Thu, Aug 28, 2008 IP:

Dear All

Do you remember Shang collar disc that Kevin posted and asked about its authenticity here?

Kevin have sent it to Throckmorton NYC to be examined by Prof.Gu Fang who is sometime at Throckmorton Fineart, and it happended to be of Shang Dynasty as its was claimed from the beginning.

Prof.Gu Fang, Institute of Archeology Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the authur of 15 Volumns of jades unearthed in China.

I asked Kevin for his permission to post certificate and his jade already.

Congratulations for your successful hunting, Kevin.

Attached is a copy of certificate by Gu Fang.

Have fun
Anita Mui

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Bill Fri, Aug 29, 2008

Congratulation, Kevin! You have found your “gem” jade piece! Anita, thank you for posting all these here, it shows once a while if one tries hard enough one can still find some great jades.

In the origina message posted by you:

Both Anita and I just happened to post pictures and/or reference of another Shang disc that is similar to yours.

Anita said, “Your piece look very nice and posssibly authentic, without personal handling and better detailed pictures. I can not confirm.”

I commented, “Nice disc. I wonder if the picture shows the true color of your disc, or it is more a darker black green.” “Look at the circular carving lines (or marks) found on the surface of your disc, they were old and made with Tu. Hard to tell the material, color says serpentine but textures looks like nephrite, if I can just put it in my hand, I would be able to tell immediately. I can almost feel it would have that "heavy feel" of nephrite. Very good luster. Low resolution pictures are simple not good enough to tell too much about your disc.”

Diasai commented, “Qijia culture disc, nice object. From your bad photos it is impossible to say weather it is authentic or not. If authentic it is valuable. I presume it is authentic.”

Now another member commented:

“Both are very beautifull objects.

Bill, the pic you posted here clearly shows the lime deposits between the circles, created by the hearth humidity during the thousands or so years of being burried.
I'm very sure it cannot be removed easily at all.Very good sign of age.

On the other hand, Kevin's disc doesn't show any such signs.

Just an observation.”

Then you posted more pictures on a second thread.

Then Anita commented:

“I can not say, the condition is too good to be genuince, but the workmanship and material is supurb.

Any modern tool marks found? it is slipery or non-slipery when you use your thumb to rub on it?

I saw Shang and Neolithic jades without any kind of depisits, alterations, whithening, just like yesterday made exhibited at HK museum of art before. This piece is convincingly authentic.

To fake the neat work like this, not cheap and not easy.”

I commented:

“If I remember correctly, there are six types of jade carvings in ancient China, the top two are jade Bi and jade cong (tsung). Jade bi are used for making offering (or sacrifice) to the sky (or heaven) while jade congs are used for making sacrifice to the earth.

Therefore jade bi were never intended for burials until Han dynasty when such bi became much more abundant and the Han dynasty people put a lot of important in extravagant burial. It is a also possible jade bi from earlier dynasties were being used in burial during Han or later dynasties and that may be why we would see Shang bi found in burial. However, during Shang dynasty, jade bi were not intended for burials. Now, on the other hands, one would find more congs in burial.

Now of course I can be wrong, but it would be an interesting topic for jade collectors to discuss, would it?”

Then the other member who commented that there was no weathering seen on Kevin’s disc commented:

“That this piece, or others, are made for burial or not is another story.

Old pieces are found deep in the ground, water or caves, whatever their use is.
If this disc was not made to follow it's owner to the coffin, it would still be burried and exposed when archeologist are digging some old sites.

I sometime goes around construction sites and have evaluate the deepness, according to the period of the shards I found.
In general, Qing dy, up to 2 metres deep, Ming deeper etc, etc...
I found some Tang dy shards at around 4 metres and a Han brick at about 5.
This is valid for the area where I live. Of course the deepness will depend of the nature of the soil of the area.

But yes, let's be LOGIC, such old pieces are not kept on someone mantelpiece for thousand of years.”

I had since found that there indeed were jade discs being found in Shang burial sites. There are three different Chinese terms used for jade disc based on the sizes of the jade portion and hole (or their ratio) of a disc.

Most of the large jade discs used for paying tributes to the Sky are always made of dark green jade without any decorations on them. (they were called Cang Bi, Cang means dark green and Bi means disc) They can be found as early as Neolithic times (including Liangzhu and Hongshan culture). Most of the Hongshan jade disc have sharp edges. The Liangzhu one were narrower on the outside edges and thicker inside. Some Shang discs did have collars. Beside using for paying tributes to the Sky, these disc were used for burial, some times more than one were being placed on the top or bottom of the deceased and sometimes just laying around the body. Some even were placed on top of the coffin. Some discs were actually used for decoration purposes and as ornaments. From some literatures a while ago, I also learned that at one time, some discs (smaller one I presume) were actually being laid on top of each other and placed inside a Cong. Disc were found more prevalently in Han burials.

The interesting questions regarding using “weathering” as a major criterion in deciding the “authenticity” and “age” of an archaic jade piece as suggested by one of the members here is actually nothing new. It was widely adapated as the “standard” by many of the Chicochai members. Many Chinese collectors also believe “Chum-sik” (color stain and/or weathering) and “Bao-jaing” (gel-like luster wrapped around the jade) must be present on an archaic jade piece for it to be genuine.

However, would it be possible that some of these archaic jade pieces including Keven’s jade disc had never be buried (either in a site or as burial goods). It is not uncommon for the royal valut of emperors in different dynasty to pass archaic jade collections from one emperor to the other. Then when it was overthrown by a different dynasty, the new dynasty just took over all the archaic jade carvings from the past dynasty.

Secondly, why would so many collectors would automatically assume that all archaic jade carvings would have weahtering or color stains found on them? Many dark green nephrite jade (made of actinolite or ferro-actinolite) carving are of such high quality (high S.G., high hardness) that almost no chemicals or soil environments can cause changes on them.

Thirdly, why would we assume all burial jades would have direct contacts with soil or water? Some of the Hongshan jades were buried inside stone coffins that were buried in high grounds. Many of the ancient wooden coffins were sometimes made of wood so dense that they would last over a thousand years without rotting. Many had special preservaties placed inside the coffin to keep the contents dry.

May be we should rethink about using “weathering” as the sole criterion in judging the authenticity and age of an archaic jade carving. Just like Anita said,

“I saw Shang and Neolithic jades without any kind of depisits, alterations, whithening, just like yesterday made exhibited at HK museum of art before.”

To me this will be evidence that using “weathering” alone as the SOLE criterion would be both invalid and absurd.



Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Anita Mui Thu, Sep 04, 2008

Dear Bill

Gu fang's opinion is final, how can anyone compatible with people who wrote 15 Volumn of jade unearthed in China.

We judge from pictures, but Gu Fang examined the real piece.

Anyway, authentic jade artefacts are running out as well as Xinjiang's jade mine. Kevin Shang disc would worth millions of dollar soon...

Have fun
Anita Mui

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Bill Fri, Sep 05, 2008

Hi, Anita:

I believe you should reread my messages because I was not disagreeing with you. I agree that Kevin's jade bi can indeed be that of late Shang as appraised by Gu Fang. I also used the archaic jade discs you saw in museum to show that there would not be necessarily any weathering found on archaic jade carvings for them to be authentic.

Now, just to be the Devil's advocate, without examining Kevin's jade disc yourself, you cannot say with 100% certainty that his piece is absolutely Shang. As you seemed to indicate that in your previous e-mails, you did not seem to put too much weight on a piece of paper (COA) including those issued by Gu Fang. Therefore, should Kevin's jade disc all of a sudden is worth millions of dollars because of this one piece of paper? Are the jade collectors buying the jade piece or the paper?

Are there any jade experts who are infallible?


Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Anita Mui Mon, Sep 08, 2008

Dear Bill

As jade collectors, we are living in "fear". Fear to be called "fake" by the turely experts who are on the digs, who really examined the excavation pieces, who really wrote the world renounced books...those qualities are accepatable, respectful and "no more question ask"..

In contrast to the people who bought vast collection from eBay (not you) with SELF-PROCLAIMED AUTHENTICATION that "those things are real, from the tomb raiders..and they sell so cheap..I won!!!!"

Then those guys traveled to the excavated sites in China (arranged a Nui tour, but only familiar faces from the family joined the team) and those things came along with that those guys could proudly show to those experts to examine those eBay treasure.

Those experts said .."wow!they are fakes."..

Those guys said "how?", Those experts said "I don't know!".

Those guys said "you are not real experts, you know only what you dug out of here!"

On the way back to Nui's hotel, those guys accidently found an ancient refusal hole on the excavated site, and then SELF-PROCLAIMED AUTHENTICATED that it was dug by tomb raider, then those jades were filled in eBay's warehouse.


Those guys took a rest in HK before heading back to Mediteranian Cliff. With unreliable high confidence, those guys went to HK Museum and handed over a discovery report together with eBay treasure as "donation with COA paper". HK museum returned those treasure back to those guys few munites after pretending to accept those treasure as a "host with a good manner".

Finally, those guys were back to where they are from, then re-arranged and re-catagorized their eBay treasure (hongshan Micky mouse, Hongshan Pooh Bear, Hongshan Pikaju, Hongshan Tamagoji..blah..blah..blah) to be displayed in self-funded garage turned to be a "Museum", attached with self-proclaimed COA on every pieces of those treasure...end of part one.
Everybody have dream, but it must rely on the reality.

Above is my fiction, but based on a true story.

Sad but true, isn't it.

Have fun
Anita Mui

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Anita Mui Tue, Sep 09, 2008

Dear Bill

Sorry, I have not read your long post. My English is not good, sometimes I was confused what you have just said.
Your question:-

Therefore, should Kevin's jade disc all of a sudden is worth millions of dollars because of this one piece of paper? Are the jade collectors buying the jade piece or the paper?

My reply:-

"Absolutely, YES!" And we are not takling about appreciation of art here. That's why people come here to ask "true or fake".

Have fun
Anita Mui

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Bill Tue, Sep 09, 2008

Hi, Anita:

Thanks for the analogy. I know whom you are referred to.

I was as blind as any novice jade collector could be when I first started collecting jades and were repeatedly duped and paid for my errors. Therefore it is sad to see this happens again and again to some unexpected new jade collectors.

It always puzzles me why some collectors can be so blind. Many of these members posted on the other forum would only believe in "forum jades" and reject any other jade pieces. The only criterion they used in authenticating and dating a jade piece is "weathering" or "crystallization". They did not understand such phenomenon is not necessarily found on all archaic jade pieces and the degree of weathering and/or crystallization has no direct relationship to the age of the jade piece but more to do with the jade material and its burial environment.

It is truly sad that one of them had such great opportunities in learning from experienced jade experts including a Hongshan jade guru, in visiting ancient Hongshan sites, but all he did was to propose some ridiculous hypothesis regarding the authentication of Hongshan jades in order to prove that his jade collections are indeed authentic. How does such blindness start?

Unfortunately, very often I am equally guilty of such blindness and therefore it leaves with me with no choice but to keep studying and learning about jade everyday. If one stops learning in what one loves and just collects non-discriminatively, what would one become:

A garbage collector?

Thanks for sharing.


Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Anita Mui Thu, Sep 11, 2008

Dear Bill

The correct way to look at jade artefacts is to imagine when it was newly made. What it true function was once served.

So...what to look:-

1st)style (what dynasty?)

2nd)function (what was it used for?)

For example:- Pinocchio's Han ryton cups with openworks at the mouths and baby toads at the stands. They can not be used for drinking. Han Dynasty had never made flower vase. flower vase came with Mahayana Buddhism from India, called "Buranakata", the vase of good fortune, giving to Buddha as offerings.

3rd)material (is it jade, and is it right to the trend of the period?)

for example:- fake Liangzhu Culture shaman's plaque made of dyed and stained Myanmar Jadeite selling on eBay by TJR..claimed as of the period.

4th)craftmanship / tool marks


Last thing to be considered:-

5th)aging evidence, "weathering" or "crystallization".

Have fun
Anita Mui

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Anthony M. Lee Mon, Oct 06, 2008

Dear All,

I have been out these conversations for almost a year at this point and really do not want to jump into the debate as to whether something is or isn't. It seems very clear that there are those in the discussion who believe and those who do not and tons of discussion that is not really convincing either side to change opinions.
I would however caution all those interested in jades of this period to continue to be sceptical about all authentications and tests and opinions. Without wishing to cast aspersions or judging anyone - the New York and London art communities are divided between those who respect Throckmorton and the specialists connected with the dating and authentication of their jades and those who find much of it questionable. Reputations can be bought (even those high up in major auction houses and galleries). Opinions purchased. Neither publication nor academic position necessarily denote reputation in the field.
This is a forum of opinions - facts are less easily obtained.

Asian Art Research

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Bill Thu, Oct 09, 2008

Hi, Mr. Lee:

Welcome back. It is really great to hear your opinions from which I surely learn a great deal.



Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Mehmet Hassan Sun, Nov 02, 2008

Dear Anita,
The art business is now full of fools and fraudsters using academics and quack scientists to authenticate their fake pieces.That piece of paper is worthless and guarantees nothing.
What on earth does "Good" mean, and since when has Throckmorton Fine Arts become a scientific laboratory for authenticating jades?


Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Kevin Martin Tue, Nov 04, 2008

Mr.Hassan, thanks for your comments. Are you familiar with the Throckmorton Gallery and Mr.Gu Fang ? Any info is always greatly appreciated.

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Mehmet Hassan Wed, Nov 05, 2008

Dear Kevin,

the certificate that you have is a personal opinion of Professor Gu Fang and is based on his own experiences. Whilst Professor Gu Fang has a lot of experience, there have been many instances of academics getting it horribly wrong. In many cases these were backed up by very dubious scientific reports that were manipulated to argue in favour of the authenticity of the pieces. In the last twenty years I can recall many such instances, involving Jade, SE Asian Bronzes, Indian and Chinese Stones etc.

In all the cases an academic gave the all clear and was subsequently proved to have gotten it horribly wrong. Museums and institutions were the recipients of these fake pieces, and there have been several lawsuits as a result.

Academics often have expertise in a very narrow field, which means that their knowledge is confined to pieces in their own museum or academies collections. Objects that they have studied for a lifetime are not often representative of objects found in other collections or museums.

So I would not accept this certificate as other than an opinion, and am troubled that a well-known Chinese academic has teamed up with a NYC art gallery to issue certificates of authenticity. My own belief is that academics should not be involved in commercial ventures of this kind.

Jade is the most difficult of all mediums to evaluate and date.
Copies of ancient jades are mass-produced in China and galleries worldwide are supplied with material from the backstreets of Hong Kong.

The problem is a huge one now as fake jades have now entered into many collections as genuine.The buyers appetite is insatiable and so the cycle goes on.

How much did you pay for your report Kevin, and where did your disc actually come from?


Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Mehmet Hassan Sat, Nov 22, 2008

Dear Kevin,
can you answer the following question that I asked you earlier?

"How much did you pay for your report Kevin, and where did your disc actually come from?"

Mehmet Hassan

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Kevin Martin Fri, Nov 28, 2008

I am curious, what does it matter how much I paid for the certificate ? What would that have to do with anything ?
Thank you

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Mehmet Hassan Mon, Dec 01, 2008

Dear Kevin,
I have no ulterior motives here but did want to compare the cost of your certificate with known scientific tests and services.

A C14 from ETH Zurich costs 900 Swiss francs (US $742)
A TL test from Oxford costs £180 - £250 + VAT
Skilled conservation scientists in the USA will charge between $100 – 150 per hour.

Having started a public discussion, you shouldn’t be surprised when people start asking you questions. You can decline to answer any of them.

Kind regards

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Cal Mon, Nov 03, 2008

Not to mention, who on earth actually signed the certificate, and why does the purported signature of the Notary not match the name on the black notary's stamp?

Anyone can make up any kind of certificate, as readily seen on eB**.

Good luck,

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Oriental Treasures Mon, Nov 03, 2008

We totally agree with your view that the “certificate of authenticity” is not worth much. To us, for an object to be certified as authentic, it must be subject to scientific tests or published archaeological excavations or both.

Since there is no scientific test for the age of jade carvings we believe a “certificate of authenticity” must include material composition, SG, hardness, refractive infex, i.e. gemological test, and/or from a known archaeological excavation. If these parameters are not forthcoming, then at least it should be compared with a known sample from archaeological excavation, such as the tomb of Madam Fu Hao. But the latter can not then use the word “authentic”.

We all know (or should know) that the biggest auction houses have either turned a blind eye or in cahoots in cheating the public (wealthy but not well informed). Two of their Chairmen were sent to prison! Even the best of museums are not immune. Quite a while back we visited a very well known museum with a permanent collection of fabulous jade (for the most part). However, there were a few pieces that didn’t look right. Since we knew the curator we politely asked him about those pieces. He sheepishly confirmed that those pieces were suspect but they were part of a larger donation from a wealthy patron and the museum could not afford to “offend” the donor.

Besides tomb excavations, pretty precise dates and provenance can also be established for artifacts from shipwrecks.

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Anita Mui Tue, Nov 04, 2008

Dear Guys

I must have some people to rely on, otherwise I have nothing to authenticate jades. Jades are very difficult to authenticate, you know that. And for me, Gu Fang, Throck and Elizabeth Child Johnsons are there for me to learn from them.

I do not think that Gu Fang who went to the digs, wrote reports, talked to persons in charge of the sites, wrote the most important of jade reference book (15 volume of jade unearthed in China) will be corrupted for a little fee for personal observation and then certified that certificate (the signature is Gu Fang's himself).

I have no idea that Throck is trying to find the scientific ways to date jades, if his medthod is reliable / believable / practical, it would be the most easy way for others to follow, and to date jades which will not cause us headache with the word "POSSIBLY" follow the dating anymore.

So, buy what you like, and believe what you want to...Obama or McCain??

Have fun
Anita Mui

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Oriental Treasures Thu, Nov 06, 2008

Bonjour Anita,

Perhaps it might help to clarify our position that it is a question of semantics. We believe that it would be more appropriate if it was called "Certificate of Appraisal" instead of "Certificate of Authenticity", that's all.


Oriental Treasures (still learning)

Subject:Re: Kevin's Shang jade and Gu Fang
Posted By: Tom Wed, Jul 31, 2019

There is no denying the enormous amount of experience Dr. Gu Fang has with Chinese jades. He has spent decades building his reputation and is highly regarded by universities around the world and museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he conducts research for and appraisals of their Chinese jade acquisitions. He has published many books and publications on jades. In his certificates, he is simply stating that based on his knowledge and experience, he is confident that the piece is/is not from the period/culture claimed. I do not believe he would jeopardize his stellar reputation to certify a fake artifact. Throckmorton FA uses him to assess their jades, as they are not in the business of scientific testing. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |