Thursday, March 30, 2017

Matching Mum's Pearls with Xizhou Carnelian Disc Beads

Beautiful Beads are a Joy Forever !

Mum's vintage cultured pearls are  around 70 years old while  Xizhou carnelian disc beads are from the 11th century BC. Although several thousand years apart - still I think it worked and  they are well paired.

A Joy to Wear, A Memory to Treasure.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Decorating Braided Bracelets with Antique Jade

Combining my love for braiding and my love for quirky pieces of old jade I have, over time come up with more  braided bracelet items. Each bracelet was painstakingly hand knotted by me and each antique jade ornament just as tirelessly  hand carved by craftsmen from long ago.

My bespoke bracelets

I used embroidery floss and braid patterns like Chevron, Chevron with border, Egyptian and Knitted to knot the bracelets.  Tiny, flat jade ornaments were then added as a centerpiece or as a closure  after the bracelets were completed.

Of the six bracelets 2 were formed by the simple pattern Chevron, shown below

Top pattern: Chevron embellished with jade butterfly as centerpiece
(closure button is modern)
Bottom pattern : Three color Chevron decorated with white jade polygon
as centerpiece and square jade button as closure

Chevron with border is a variation of the chevron pattern. The two bracelets shown below were made to this design.

Top pattern: Aubergine color chevron with contrasting grey border and
white bird as centerpiece (closure button is modern)
Bottom Pattern : Three color chevron with contrasting pink border,
 ending with a carved jade button

Last two  bracelets were made with  more complicated Egyptian and Knitted designs.

Pattern: Reverse side of Knitted pattern is used. Knitted pattern shown below
Decorated in the centre with a white jade bird. (Closure button is modern)

Knitted pattern on other side

The last bracelet was knotted following the Egyptian design

Pattern : Egyptian with spherical jade button closure

Compared with the mass produced stuff of today my self crafted, personalized accessories are real neato !
What a refreshing change !

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A String of Beads and Pendants from early Chinese History

Inspired by the elaborate necklaces of the Xizhou dynasty,(1046-771 BC) I have come up with my own modest strand  using  beads and pendants  from early periods of China's civilization.

Mostly Shang - Zhou beads and pendants

Patina, toolmarks and carving style on these beads and pendants (silkworms, phoenix, turtle shell, disc etc) point tentatively to Shang - Xizhou period (1600-771 BC)  and later.

The strand is made up of  a trapezoidal jade bead, 2 silkworms, a spherical carved bead, a bead of turtle shell carving, two  bamboo shape tube beads and a pair of cicadas interspersed with small carnelian disc beads.

Details of the components given below.

Picture below shows beads with three different shapes. From left spherical bead with c-shaped  motifs (1.4cm), flat turtle shell bead (1.5 x 1cm) and a trapezoidal bead with phoenix carving (2 x 1.5cm at the base)

Bead shapes are spherical, flat and trapezoidal

Next is a pair of silkworm pendants the left worm is 3 cm and right is 2.8 cm.
Pair of silkworms

A pair of  slender bamboo shaped tubes with left tube measuring 2.0cm x 0.5cm and right 2.3cm x 0.5 cm

Left tube is 2cmx0.5cm right tube is 2.3cm x0.5cm

Pair of cicadas measures approximately 1.5cm x 1.2cm and likely to be later than Xizhou period.

Pair of cicadas

The carnelian disc beads used as spacers are the hallmarks of many Xizhou necklaces.

Small discs measures approx. 1 cm across

These red discs also add a touch of color to the otherwise somber hues of my string.

Rosy carnelian beads add a touch of color


Monday, February 13, 2017

A set of Ancient Jade Ornaments

This set of jade ornaments  comprise a lovely arc shaped jade plaque or huang,  purportedly from the Han dynasty (206 BC-24AD) and four cylindrical beads of unknown vintage.

A set of jade ornaments
The top ornament is a an arc shaped plaque or   huang  with dragon heads on both ends while the body is decorated with low relief grain design on one side. Measuring 8cm x 1cm this ornament is often seen in the Han dynasty (206BC-24 AD) as well as earlier dynasties and cultures.

Double headed dragon heads on arc shaped  plaque or huang

The back is plain and uncarved

Uncarved back

The short cylindrical beads have a strange carving of  what looks like a bird at one end....

carved image looks like a bird

..... and an upturned tail at the other..

Looks like a tail?
 The perforation is large and biconical
large bi conical  perforation

The design wraps round the cylindrical bead and can best be seen when impressed against a plasticine  mould somewhat like a seal. The image that appears on the mould looks like a  bird  floating on water the head at one end and an upturned tail at the other. Or  is it a boat ? It could also be some archaic language.  This bird like or boat like image is bordered by two cloud scrolls often seen in the Zhou-Han periods. The beads measure approximately 2cm x 1.3cm. I have not come across this design on jade beads before and am still trying to figure out which era it belongs.  Wish someone could enlighten me!
Design seen when impressed on a mold

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rooster 2017

Cock a doodle dooo....
here come the Roosters....
 I am not a collector of roosters and don't have many rooster artefacts in my collection to crow about. Still I manage to dig up this ancient clay rooster from a bygone age (Han times likely) to welcome the Year of the Rooster 2017

2000 year old Han dynasty clay rooster

And from my treasure chest of miscellaneous items I salvaged these 5 antique jade rooster figurines. Each rooster is perforated vertically and must have been carved for making dangles.
Antique jade roosters.

I have grouped them together for this  auspicious display to usher in  the New Year.
A family of roosters to greet the Lunar New Year

And just for laughs,  here is an impressionistic look at my rooster display :)
Impressionistic art ? :)
Lastly Mr God of Wealth, Cai Shen Ye  is here to give a tip to lucky punters, who can spot the numbers :)

Can you spot the lucky numbers ?

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rooster!


Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas 2016 with Deer

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells..... comes Santa's helpers in the guise of  archaic jade deer to celebrate Christmas 2016. Instead of Santa's traditional reindeer, I will present in this post, my pair of  jade deer purportedly  from Shang-Xizhou dynasty (1600-221BC)
Celebrating Christmas 2016 with my archaic jade deer

 Left deer measures 3.5cm  and right deer measures 3cm. (pic below) They are  simply carved on both sides with heads turned back  and a few incised lines on their bodies. Although much of the jade is still smooth and lustrous the hooves and antlers show signs of patination and alteration. The remains of ancient toolmarks, an indicator of age can be seen in all the  unpolished grooves and perforations.

Reverse view
Left behind quartz stones in the narrow crevices  in between the antlers and the hoofs also point to the great age of these carvings, see enlargements below.

Quartz stone in the antlers

Quartz stone in the hooves
Spots of russet on the noses  remind me of legendry Rudolph  and leaves me wondering if they are indeed the ancient ancestors of the mythical Rudolph!  :)
Rudolph the red nose reindeer.....
.....had a very shiny nose....

....Rudolph the red nose reindeer
you will go down in history.....

Back to the present, here's a contemporary scene with golden deer from Fairprice to celebrate Christmas 2016. 

Merry Christmas 2016 with contemporary reindeer

Merry Christmas to Jade Collectors !

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Revisiting old Haunts and getting a haul....

.....of antique hairpins

I had not visited this shop in over a decade  because of all that's been  happening in my life(both good and bad ) that prevented me from going. Well ten years is  a long time and I did not really expect the shop or the shop keeper to be still in business. So it was pleasantly nostalgic to discover both shop and lady boss to be still in operation albeit shop was reduced to half its size and lady boss had aged by ten years (as I also) Despite the changes we both recognized each other immediately and effusively.

Here are some pictures of the nice haul I got from that impromptu  and  fortuitous visit

Antique hairpins from the Ming - Qing dynasty (1368-1911)
Very-old-world sweet !
Close ups of  the hairpins are shown below

Jade lotuses set in silver gilt evoke nostalgia 

delicate and graceful  bird with dangle, to adorn a ladies' hair

Captivating white jade flower. The 4 petals appear convex but are actually concave!
Silver gilt butterfly with blue enamel ends in a tiny spoon

2 white jade bis set in silver gilt

A pair of colorful hairpins hand wired with jade and beads depicting a floral design

Hairpins look good  displayed in my centuries old pots.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let me count the ways.....

How do I love thee...... (my focal/ancient beads)
           And how do I wear thee .....?
           Let me count the ways.....

 focal ancient beads suitable for making into bracelets

Most beadcollectors like to wear their beads (focal or otherwise) as necklaces but I choose to wear mine as bracelets.  Perhaps the real reason is not so much my unlovely neck (although that is part reason) as that I cannot manage to string together a decent necklace.... too long for me to handle ....lack the so much easier to put together a simple bracelet on an elastic cord and presto I can have my fix !

Some examples :

Biconical amethyst focal bead with truncated biconical crystals

Flat six sided faceted crystal with old green and white glass beads
Top bracelet: Square tube focal turquoise with old coral
beads and two small turquoise flanking beads one carved
in the shape of a yuan bao, the other of a bird
Bottom: Flat oval turquoise bead with cloud  carving 
pattern likely to be from China's Warring state period.
The filler beads are old blue and white glass  melons.

My simplistic bands focus on well, a focal ancient bead strung with plain old filler beads which may or may not be ancient. Pearls in particular make good supporting beads for my projects. Their neutral white color blends well with ancient beads.

Below I show off the  round white pearls I inherited from my Mum (vintage around 70 years) and they have been teamed up with two flat ancient beads.  Focal bead on left is an ancient nephrite tubular bead with 6 facets,  while   on right  the dark red diamond shaped carnelian is from Vietnam's Sa Huynh culture (100 BC-200AD)
Pearls make good companions for ancient focal beads

Freshwater pearls are cheap, comes in an assortment of hues and I use them without fail  to combine  with focal ancient beads.

Fresh water pearls

The gemstone  faceted  tubular bead shown below, likely from Pyu dynasty (100BC-840AD) is a  lovely sapphire blue, am hoping its one :) mixes well with these wee white freshwater pearls.
Sapphire color but is it sapphire ??

Next I've highlighted a rose quartz elephant with pink freshwater pearls. The rose quartz elephant bead is likely to be stuff from Pyu dynasty.
rose quartx elephant flanked by rosy fresh water pearls
Another arrangement with pink freshwater pearls is this  bracelet featuring four focal, blue gemstone  beads, again Pyu dynasty  likely.  The stones are in the most wonderful hues of blue. I am guessing and hoping, aquamarine, blue topaz or blue quartz. All are hand faceted.

favourite bracelet with four focal beads in shades of blue

An unusual ivory or bone (I'm not sure which) grooved tube bead which I interpret as representing  an  elephant is nicely matched with old white coral beads from Sarawak, shown below.

Grooved tubular bead may represent a Pyu elephant
Another favourite of mine featuring a carnelian crown shaped bead which was previously part of a  Qing dynasty hairpin, shown below.  Beside the focal crown bead, the two flanking beads are also way interesting. The small faceted round bead on the right  measures only 0.5 cm is  decorated with  wavy bands that culminate in what looks like a pair of eyes, all courtesy of  nature. By contrast,  the round carnelian  bead on the left is decorated with  a basket ball pattern etched my man thousands of years ago. Some old coral beads act as fillers to this winsome threesome.

Focal crown bead and two flanking carnelian beads make a winsome threesome.
 Here are close ups of the 2 small carnelians.

decorated by Nature
etched by man

No doubt my "creations" are not  really remarkable but still they serve me well. With more than a dozen bracelets at my disposal I get to enjoy a different focal bead each day.

Below are another few more examples :

3 bracelets with focal beads


Focal venetian tube bead with floral design
Early tubular turquoise bead with round pearls
And last, my killer trapezoidal bead with phoenix pattern and red Xizhou  (1027-771BC) carnelian disc beads.

the nonpareil phoenix



Blog Archive

Favourite Books

  • Theft : a love story
  • The Uncommon Reader
  • Never Let me go
  • Angela's Angels
  • Where angels fear to tread