The Chinese exalted jade. Their name for it, “yu,” means “pure” and “valuable.” Chinese poet T’ang Jung-two wrote: “The magic power of heaven and earth are combined to form perfect results; so the pure essences of hill and water become solidified into precious jade.” Jade amulets were popular in China; women wore jade earrings, necklaces, and rings. Because the Chinese viewed jade with such reverence, they rarely used it for something purely utilitarian. However, a vase, cup, plate, bowl, or snuff bottle gave Chinese artists – masters of jade carving – the opportunity to combine utility with art. Some 250 stunning examples of their craftsmanship are showcased in an exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, “Jade: Ch’ing Dynasty Treasures from the National Museum of History, Taiwan,” through Sept. 7. Many of the works, which are from Taiwan’s nati

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