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African, Asian, and Islamic Art

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Dragon Plaque

Artist: Unknown Chinese Artist Primary
3rd century BCE
Dimensions: 3.19 x 9.5 x 0.13 in. (8.1 x 24.13 x 0.32 cm)
Object Type: Relief Sculpture
Creation Place: Asia, China
Medium and Support: Jade
Credit Line: On loan from Art Properties, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, Sackler Collections (S3686)
Accession Number: L2017.33.04
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

In its own category and prized above all other stones in Chinese culture since Neolithic times, jade (nephrite) is a mineral found within metamorphic rocks in mountains. An extremely hard stone to carve, it is valued for its color and translucency when polished. Plaques like this were originally placed in tombs as protection. Intricately carved jade objects are used and appreciated in the scholar's studio.

This object was featured in the Fairfield University Art Museum's exhibition ink/stone (January 21-March 5, 2022). To see a virtual recreation of this exhibition, you can access our Matterport tour


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Three-dimensional works of art in which images and forms are produced in relief, in intaglio, or in the round. The term refers particularly to art works created by carving or engraving a hard material, by molding or casting a malleable material (which usually then hardens), or by assembling parts to create a three-dimensional object. It is typically used to refer to large or medium-sized objects made of stone, wood, bronze, or another metal. Small objects are typically referred to as "carvings" or another appropriate term. "Sculpture" refers to works that represent tangible beings, objects, or groups of objects, or are abstract works that have defined edges and boundaries and can be measured. As three-dimensional works become more diffused in space or time, or less tangible, use appropriate specific terms, such as "mail art" or "environmental art."

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