The Grace Dee May Museum has a remarkable collection of artifacts from Asia including precious works in both jade and ivory.
For centuries in China, carved jade has been used for jewelry, statues, ritualistic art, decorative swords and daggers, and sculpture in various forms and valued as objects which represent beauty, longevity and purity. Carved jade objects in ancient China date back to the Neolithic Age.
Jade objects are highly prized not only in Asia but around the world for the variety of colors and the unique translucency of the carved or polished stone.
As with jade, the carving of ivory from animal tusks and bones, dates back to prehistoric times. Ancient peoples carved tusks of Eurasian elephants, African elephants, walrus and
hippopotamus tusks, bones and tusks from mammoths, and whale bones.
As civilizations on many continents developed, the carving of ivory from simple talismans to intricate religious relics progressed and became increasingly popular not only in Asia, India and Africa but across all of Europe. From the Middle Ages, ivory was used not only for religious icons but had secular appeal for buttons, jewelry, and items for the home like decorative boxes.
Protecting & Preserving
The desirability of ivory led to indiscriminate hunting of animals to the point of risks of endangerment and extinction. Today, conservationists have worked with governmental agencies to ensure that limitations on the harvesting of ivory are in place restricting the commercial trade, and in some countries, the importation of ivory.