One of the very first objects of long lasting value to be carved by humans was a rock, and to this day the fascination with this art has never decreased with the Chinese. Because of the longevity of the material, many were passed down from generation to generation or put into tombs to accompany the dead to the afterlife.

The stones that the Chinese communists confiscated from its own people, Tibetans as well as those caught up in looting during the cultural revolution (and afterward) are all seen being sold for a fraction of their value on Ebay- being sold en masse after being stockpiled for decades. Though those of the highest value are true jades and many of these might be sold using other auction houses and fronts because of the higher price- there are many, many stones in China and throughout the world that are carved, bought and sold by them, not just jade. Some people think these are just “fakes”, but the fact of the matter is that these were all owned and prized by someone who perhaps couldn’t afford more, and some are even more valuable than jade like Shoushan stone. This page highlights some of the stone pieces which were once someone’s prized possession and often a sign of wealth and status which was something Communist China despised and sought to eradicate for years.

Dushan Jade

Search for “Dushan” on Ebay

  • 2,796 on 07/29/2016 including 35 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,914 on 08/12/2016 including 56 auctioned in 10 days
  • 3,387 on 09/01/2016 including 56 auctioned in 10 days
  • 3,428 on 09/15/2016 including 73 auctioned in 10 days
  • 3,546 on 09/29/2016 including 75 auctioned in 10 days
  • 3,625 on 10/13/2016 including 73 auctioned in 10 days
  • 4,251 on 11/18/2016 including 63 auctioned in 10 days
  • 4,153 on 12/05/2016 including 34 auctioned in 10 days
  • 4,398 on 01/10/2017 including 51 auctioned in 10 days
  • 4,675 on 01/29/2017 including 27 auctioned in 10 days
  • 4,189 on 03/09/2017 including 76 auctioned in 10 days
  • 3,795 on 03/25/2017 including 103 auctioned in 10 days
  • 4,178 on 05/05/2017 including 167 auctioned in 10 days
  • 4,195 on 06/05/2017 including 203 auctioned in 10 days

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This type of greenish stone is called “Dushan Jade” by Ebay sellers, however not being a true jade, but another stone, they might be difficult to sell at upper end markets- hence the reason they are being sold on Ebay- though the carvings are often quite exceptional. Dushan jade is actually a composite mineral called Saussurite  -a product of some basaltic composition igneous rocks that is a plagioclase stone and contains mainly felspars. It is closely related to labradorite, and derived from a similar processes and conditions. It is also sometimes called Nanyang Jade, named for its source in Nanyang, Henan Province, China.

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Chinese both love and celebrate food, and what better what to glorify what you love, than to carve it in stone and admire it everyday? The carving above is of bean sprouts, an important staple in the diets of many and where tofu comes from. This may have been owned by someone who made good money from the sprouts as well, who owned such an item to honor them and the good fortune they had brought to their life and business.

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Peas, another beloved vegetable, are featured above.

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Ginseng root is craved in lighter Dushan stone while the ruyi is carved from a darker portion of the stone above. Ginsing is a symbol of longetivity or immortality, while the ruyi means “as you wish”. It would have been quite an auspicious gift to the original recipient, and might be taken as a wish to that they might do what they would like- and have power- forever. Ruyis, because of their association with traditional rulers and Chinese government are not necessarily so auspicious to Chinese Communists however.

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Cabbages are quite popular carved from Dushan stone, perhaps because its natural color is so similar. Chinese cabbage is different from the European cabbage and either refers to Bok choy or Napa cabbage. Bok choy is popular in southern China and SE Asia, while in the north pickled Napa cabbage became a staple of the diet and is called suan cai. The cabbages shown are of Napa or the northern Chinese cabbage which develops into an elongate head.

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Dushan Stone Cabbage
  • Buy It Now page (was $385.00, price increased to $457.00 by 09/2016): no longer listed by 01/2016, may have sold by holypardom193

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Lotuses carved in Dushan stone are also very popular. Below is also a lotus in the waves next to a grape leaf (?). There is also a scroll, a helmet, yuan bao and other important symbols on top of that as well.

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  • Buy It Now page ($4,675.00): may have been sold in 2016, no longer listed by museumshop2012

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Guanyin, a Chinese bodhisatta who is known as The Godess of Mercy, carved out of Dushan stone.

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Rooster among flowers carved from Dushan stone above.

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Red headed cranes are represented in these carvings, and the cranes’ foreheads are a darker color of the natural stone, a difficult thing to place and takes exceptional skill as a carver.

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  • See this auction: no longer a registered user when checked back on the auction 01/29/2017, may have taken people’s money and never shipped:  “Seller wont answer messages and no shipment sent yet. Reported to ebay”- Buyer: a***m “NEVER SEND THE ITEM TO THE CUSTOMER ,Given out FAKE TRACKING, PAYPAL WILL HELP” -Buyer: u***h; sold by gmk80819334jul-9

Lotus and cranes above in Dushan stone.Phoenix below.

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The subject matter of parrots and bamboo give away the origin of this Dushan carving as probably southern China or Sichuan, not further north or west.

Hetian Jade

Search for “Hetian” on Ebay

  • 8,655 on 07/29/2016 including 963 auctioned within 10 days
  • 8,561 on 08/12/2016 including 810 auctioned within 10 days
  • 8,863 on 09/01/2016 including 1,043 auctioned within 10 days
  • 8,670 on 09/15/2016 including 842 auctioned within 10 days
  • 8,950 on 09/29/2016 including 1,191 auctioned within 10 days
  • 9,335 on 10/13/2016 including 1,205 auctioned within 10 days
  • 9,983 on 11/18/2016 including 1,001 auctioned within 10 days
  • 10,265 on 01/10/2017 including 721 auctioned within 10 days
  • 9,175 on 01/29/2017 including 451 auctioned within 10 days
  • 10,948 on 03/09/2017 including 829 auctioned within 10 days
  • 11,228 on 03/25/2017 including 726 auctioned within 10 days
  • 11,946 on 05/05/2017 including 862 auctioned within 10 days
  • 11,572 on 06/05/2017 including 903 auctioned within 10 days

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A type of nephrite jade found in China’s northwest Xingjing Province, Hetian jade it is a true jade and one of the finest being a translucent white color. It was most commonly found as rounded rocks in river beds- hence the reason many also have a colored “rind” to the carvings, this was the rock’s original skin that has been left on in places like the back of the carving above, though most of the alluvial deposits are now gone. Some rocks are still mined in mountains, but the quality and quantity of this stone has decreased as prices have increased. The stones on Ebay are quite old and being sold for a fraction of their value just like so many other prized personal possessions.

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This is old Hetian jade carved without the discolored outer rind. It is a very white and greasy kind of stone with high natural luster as nephrite should be. Something like the pendant above- with the amount of dirt on it- may have came directly from a grave. The nine piece set below, if real, definitely would have came from a tomb and is carved into very formalized shapes and a specific number.

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Also see Nephrite below for more examples of Hetian jade.

Jadeite

Jadeite is metamorphic rock composed of silicate materials like nephrite, but its a sodium- and aluminium-rich pyroxene. Jadite shows more color variation, and is also rarer than nephrite. The most prized type is a translucent emerald green. Burma became a popular source of rock for Chinese carvings in the 1800’s, and today most jadeite comes from Myanmar and Guatemala.

Search for “Jadeite” on Ebay (many of these are actually mislabeled forms of other stone, not actual jadeite, particularly on the lower end of the price range- so the numbers are somewhat misleading)

  • 106,485 on 07/29/2016 including 12,497 auctioned within 10 days
  • 110,202 on 08/12/2016 including 12,509 auctioned within 10 days
  • 112,425 on 09/01/2016 including 11,880 auctioned within 10 days
  • 114,015 on 09/15/2016 including 11,171 auctioned within 10 days
  • 109,005 on 09/29/2016 including 10,394 auctioned within 10 days
  • 101,410 on 10/13/2016 including 14,018 auctioned within 10 days
  • 128,057 on 11/18/2016 including 12,843 auctioned within 10 days
  • 125,661 on 01/10/2017 including 12,068 auctioned within 10 days
  • 114,725 on 01/29/2017 including 7,055 auctioned within 10 days (week of Chinese New Year)
  • 127,140 on 03/09/2017 including 11,516 auctioned within 10 days
  • 126,002 on 03/25/2017 including 11,115 auctioned within 10 days
  • 128,244 on 05/05/2017 including 11,669 auctioned within 10 days
  • 102,208 on 06/05/2017 including 12,240 auctioned within 10 days

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Lantian Jade

Not a true jade but tremolite, a form of serpentine rock that is softer than a jade even. It is very light in color and often yellow or light green. It is much less translucent of a stone and less reflective, even when highly polished. Its name comes from where it is mined in Lantian County, north of Xian in Shaanxi Province.

Search for “Lantian” on Ebay

  • 345 on 07/29/2016 including 63 auctioned in 10 days
  • 329 on 08/12/2016 including 26 auctioned in 10 days
  • 353 on 09/01/2016 including 51 auctioned in 10 days
  • 375 on 09/15/2016 including 55 auctioned in 10 days
  • 550 on 10/13/2016 including 66 auctioned in 10 days
  • 564 on 11/18/2016 including 58 auctioned in 10 days
  • 556 on 01/10/2017 including 101 auctioned in 10 days
  • 429 on 01/29/2017 including 15 auctioned in 10 days
  • 506 on 03/09/2017 including 31 auctioned in 10 days
  • 538 on 03/25/2017 including 27 auctioned in 10 days
  • 652 on 05/05/2017 including 22 auctioned in 10 days
  • 736 on 06/05/2017 including 21 auctioned in 10 days

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A ruyi made from Lanatian jade above, which would have been bought as a sign of prestige, or given as a gift.

  • Buy It Now page using all the above photos (was $2.84- 9 available, 9 sold 4/2016; price raised to $3.55- 1 available, 9 sold 08/2016; price raised to $3.80- 2 available, 9 sold 03/2017; 1 available, 9 sold 05/2017) by ly780202
  • Auction, same photos, same seller: no sale 05/09/2017 at $2.99 minimum by ly780202
  • Auction, same photo, different seller: no sale 09/07/2016 at $2.98 minimum by sky_chi
  • Another Buy It Now page, same photo, same seller as previous ($3.20- 4 available, 1 sold 06/2017) by sky_chi
  • Another Buy It Now page, same photo, different seller by wggc5785

The pendants above show some of the color variation that comes with stone, and also a good example of what Chinese sellers like to call “new without tags” when in fact they are selling used antiques (see accumulated dirt on pendants). Why be dishonest about antiques if you could make more money by selling them as such?

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Obviously this kirin pendant above is not new by any means, you can see wear as well as dirt in the cracks just in this seller’s photograph, but is being sold as “new without tags” nonetheless. One of the other clues that these may have all came from graves (besides sellers outright lies), is although these are often antiques- and certainly not new- they’ve all been restrung with newer cord- and typically in a very generic fashion and very simply with few fancy knots or fringes, and unlike the original silk cords which might have been attached, the newer are all polyester.

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Though the seller themselves state this is a butterfly, chances are that it was meant to depict the far more culturally and economically important silk worm moth.

Nephrite Jade

This is the real stone that everyone gets so excited about, however it is not the typical green color westerners associate with “jade”, but whitish with a cast of green often referred to as celadon. It is found in alluvial deposits as well as mined, though much of it that is readily accessible and high quality has been used up over the centuries. Most of the nephrite jade comes from Xinjiang Province in China’s NW.

Search for “Nephrite” on Ebay

  • 11,897 on 07/29/2016 including 1,365 auctioned in 10 days
  • 11,984 on 08/12/2016 including 1,432 auctioned in 10 days
  • 12,058 on 10/13/2016 including 1,388 auctioned in 10 days
  • 12,318 on 11/18/2016 including 1,215 auctioned in 10 days
  • 12,251 on 01/10/2017 including 1,170 auctioned in 10 days
  • 11,425 on 01/29/2017 including 1,048 auctioned in 10 days
  • 12,356 on 03/09/2017 including 1,154 auctioned in 10 days
  • 12,473 on 03/25/2017 including 1,163 auctioned in 10 days
  • 13,026 on 05/05/2017 including 1,052 auctioned in 10 days
  • 13,896 on 06/05/2017 including 1,702 auctioned in 10 days

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Dish in the shape of a lotus leaf and seed pod to the right.

Apparently a lot of the higher quality jade- a true Hetian or nephrite- has been given to this particular seller prue-tibet to sell, who always has very fine stuff week after week along side ancient dzi beads and horn seals- and occassionally other seals of high quality like shoushan. It shows some favoritism towards the distributors of the Chinese goods, since this seller might have to sell very little to make quite a lot compared to others who have been given lesser quality jade to sell.

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But something like this mermaid of such high quality jade didn’t get this dirty on its own, and indicates that this stockpile of the world’s finest nephrite jade may have been robbed from Chinese tombs, not just sold by a poor Chinese person who needed the money.

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Nephrite Jade Peacock

This peacock could have been worn as a head ornament, and is very similar to those found on Imperial jade helmets.

Serpentine jade

Called Xiu yu in Chinese, it mainly comes Xiuyan County in Liaoning Province. Serpentine jade is semi-transparent or even opaque like wax, and can have many colors including white, yellow, light yellow, pink, green, dark green, and light green.

Shoushan Stone

“Shoushan Jade” (also called “Shoushan Stone”) is sometimes called “jade”, but is not truly jade. It was mined and quarried from historically from a mountain called Shoushou in Fujian Province, though by the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), the stones in Mt. Shoushan had already been largely exploited. It is comprised of lava and crystalline ore called agalmatolite (synonymous with pagodite), and comes in a wide range of colors including white, gray, brownish-yellow, reddish-brown, or green and sometimes has a colored pattern or spots. It is quite soft and easily carved and polished like jade.

Search for “Shoushan” on Ebay

  • 5,818 on 07/29/2016 including 325 auctioned in 10 days
  • 5,874 on 08/12/2016 including 349 auctioned in 10 days
  • 6,276 on 09/01/2016 including 302 auctioned in 10 days
  • 6,368 on 09/15/2016 including 250 auctioned in 10 days
  • 7,800 on 10/13/2016 including 432 auctioned in 10 days
  • 8,817 on 11/18/2016 including 324 auctioned in 10 days
  • 12,958 on 01/10/2017 including 341 auctioned in 10 days
  • 13,720 on 01/29/2017 including 132 auctioned in 10 days
  • 14,970 on 03/09/2017 including 340 auctioned in 10 days
  • 15,577 on 03/25/2017 including 342 auctioned in 10 days
  • 14,400 on 05/05/2017 including 364 auctioned in 10 days

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Shoushan stone is often carved into seals for signing letters, calligraphy and paintings and even the Qing emperors had seals made from it. There is a tremendous diversity of this stone in China with over one hundred different types. The most precious kind – called Tianhuang stone – is more valuable than gold and enjoys a reputation as “the king of stones.” It is said that one liang (50 grams) of Tianhuang stone is equal to three liang (150 grams) of gold. Coincidentally, a large number of the carvings for sale on Ebay seem to be made of this variety of more-expensive-than-gold stone.

The very ancient seal above says “precious” or “treasure”, very appropriate for a stone so greatly revered even beyond jade itself.  Inappropriately, it has been devalued to a price $30 bucks instead of being placed in a museum.

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Though some of these “shoushan” stone carvings may actually be fakes- like these smaller carvings depicting the Chinese god of longevity- they still belonged to someone and were taken from them against their will. The rightful owners will never see a penny from these sales, and may be dead or still incarcerated in China- which is very real.

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The Chinese God of Longevity is the old man depicted in Chinese art again and again, commonly portrayed with an enormous bald head, holding a peach and supporting himself with a staff. He is also often seen with a deer by his side. His Chinese name is Shou-lao or Shou-xing, and he is also called Nan-ji-Xian-weng (“the Old Man of the South Pole“). Because long life is often wished for and highly valued in Chinese society, he is greatly beloved and appears time and again in represented in art.

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Though the names of the sellers above may be all about “honesty”, I sure would find it difficult to trust someone with thousands of my dollars who used the exact same photograph of a unique carving that a totally different seller was using.

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The scene above showing peaches being pointed to and given to the boy by the old man, a very auspicious carving (and ancient, though this may be a more recent copy). The peaches themselves are symbolic of longevity. Though it is quite sad to have so many priceless belongings to have been looted and robbed from many a good family (who also may have been murdered by the Japanese for all we know), it is quite phenomenal that this piece of Shoushan carving has survived all that it has in one piece and a sign that the peaches on it truly are long-lived.

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