When a stone is not just a stone.
In Chinese culture, jade is more than an ornamental mineral. For millennia, jade has been described as possessing five virtues: benevolence, loyalty, wisdom, courage, and integrity.
In the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Hall of Jades, more than 450 jade objects from our collection tell the story of jade’s enduring importance to Chinese cultural traditions. Jade was a symbol of wealth, influence, and power throughout China’s history. In Neolithic China, the stone was used in burial rituals, and artists today create arresting jade pieces honoring the past, using intricate new techniques.
Tour this permanent exhibition to learn more about jade’s iconic role in Chinese society.
Learn about the history and importance of jade in Chinese culture, and see its role change over time.
- Ceremonial jade objects used in Neolithic burials
- Status symbols displayed by Bronze Age kings and warriors
- Qing dynasty pieces commissioned by imperial patronage
- Modern jade pieces inspired by traditional forms
What is jade?
What we call jade is actually, geologically speaking, two different types of stone: nephrite and jadeite. They have similar characteristics—including incredible durability—but are structurally different.
The stone is found all over the world, from China to New Zealand, from Europe to the Americas.
And although we immediately associate jade with the color green, this stone naturally occurs in many colors, including yellow, brown, lavender, light blue, and red-orange.