What Is in a Date? The Implications of Misdating a Jade Camel
Haverford College. Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
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In an attempt to reveal the vulnerabilities and limitations of existing methodologies used to date jade objects, this thesis closely analyzes the Tan Camel (Figure 1a-f), a carved Chinese jade camel owned by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Through the examination of current scholarship, as well as defining and examining the specific methodologies of formal analysis and stylistic comparison, this study addresses the complexity and subjectivity of dating jade. This thesis argues the critical need for scholars and museum curators to be more transparent by providing well-cited rationale and explanations for the dates attributed to the jade in their collections. It concludes by recommending further research on jade history and carving techniques as those findings are key to creating a more accurate and reliable dating methodology.