“Chinese Jade” at SAMA

“5,000 Years of Chinese Jade” continuing through Feb. 19

San Antonio Museum of Art

Subtle and intricate, Chinese jade carving can seem coolly aloof and perplexing to Western sensibilities, but “5,000 Years of Chinese Jade” presents a tightly focused, high quality, chronological survey of 89 objects drawn from the National Museum of History in Taiwan, the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in Springfield, Mass. Most mysterious are the solemn, minimalistic Neolithic pi discs, made and used by shamans to channel supernatural powers. A 2,500-year-old pendant decorated with undulating dragons is the most spectacular of five national treasures from Taiwan making their U.S. debut. However, realistic animal figures are probably the most endearing works to American tastes, including the Sackler’s famous Han dynasty bear.

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