Jade Use in Ancient Mesoamerica and China

Dr. Christina Elson presenting about Jade Use in Ancient Mesoamerica and China in Asia Society Hong Kong Center on November 5, 2013

HONG KONG, November 11, 2013 - Anthropologist Dr. Christina Elson, who was also the co-curator of “Heavenly Jade of the Maya”, an exhibition held in Washington DC in 2012, gave a presentation on “A Gift of Heaven: Comparing Jade Use in Ancient Mesoamerica and China” to compare the use of jade in these two distant cultures. Through an abundant archive of pictures, Elson introduced how Jade was used in sophisticated art styles in Pre-Columbian cultures such as the Olmec, Zapotec and Maya, and Chinese cultures such as the Shang, Zhou and Han to express power, wealth and social status in burials and ceremonies. Elson especially mentioned jade suits, plugs and burial items found in tombs from Han Dynasty that symbolised transformation of the dead bodies to a deathless, jade-like state and ensured eternity, while jade costumes in Classic Maya were vital for showing a ruler’s pole to facilitate communication with ancestors who were critical for helping nobles propitiate the gods.