Antique Hand Carved Dark Green Jade Nephrite Galloping Horse Figurine

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The galloping horse is a spirit animal universally symbolizing great strength, power, & leadership.  

This lovely Asian art piece, an antique green jade galloping horse, is hand carved with simple and clean, yet exquisite and dynamic lines, popular in the carving styles of early 20th century China sculptors (ca. 1900-1940). The rich hues of green are far more saturated than the lighter shades of jade seen on similar carved horses from this era, and feature attractive contrasting dark matrix throughout similar to the nephrite jade that was imported into China from British Columbia, Western Canada during this era.

Horses have a very high status in traditional Chinese culture. In ancient China, there were six main kinds of domestic animals: horse, cattle, sheep, chicken, dog and pig. The horse was the most important one. It represents the image of courage, integrity, diligence and power. In addition to its contribution to transportation, horse was also an important part of the military force.

There are countless literature works and idioms about horses in China. Many of the idioms are used frequently in the daily life of the Chinese. Here are a few of them.

Mǎ dào chéng gōng (马到成功)
Success when the horse arrives.

Translation: To achieve immediate success / victory. People often use it as a blessing at the start of a new task.

Tiān mǎ xíng kōng (天马行空)
The horse gallops so rapidly as if it is flying in the air.

Translation: Used to describe a powerful and unconstrained style as well as someone who is not down-to-earth.

Yī mǎ dāng xiān (一马当先)
Take a lead with a horse when fight in the war.

Translation: Being ahead of people, also means take a lead in doing things with people.

Canadian Jade (Nephrite)

According to some documents, nephrite jade deposits in BC were first identified by Chinese settlers in 1886 when passing through Victoria for the gold fields along the Fraser River and the Dewdney Trail from Hope to Kootenays hunting for gold, when nephrite jade was considered worthless by European miners.

There were documents mentioning that Cixi, the powerful Queen of Qing Dynasty loved jadeware made from Canadian green nephrite jade. It is highly possible that when the Chinese settlers in Canada found green jade in BC in 1886, they found a way to ship some of the BC jades to China, and part of these BC nephrite jades ended in the palace.

Canada had exported jade to Taiwan, which then had re-exported Canadian jade to mainland China, Hong Kong and other countries, claiming it was Taiwan jade.

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  • Type - Carved Jade Horse Figurine
  • Composition - Nephrite
  • Origin - Nephrite (Chinese Carving / Nephrite Possibly Imported From Canada)
  • Date- ca. 1920s - 1930s - Carving Characteristics Of Chinese Work From This Era
  • Condition - Pre-Owned - Very Good Condition
  • Weight - 59.0 Grams
  • Dimensions - 3" Wide x 2.5" Tall x 1" Wide