Archaistic jade ring

From China
Ming dynasty, 15th-16th century AD

Modelled on an ancient pendant

Archaism (Chinese: fang-gu) is an important aspect of Chinese art history. The Chinese have always admired and collected objects inspired by past traditions. It was a way of showing their veneration for the past.

The archaistic style of the fifteenth century is a notable example. The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) had re-established Chinese rule, taking over from the Mongols (Yuan dynasty, 1279-1368). Chinese traditions and styles were revived in all things. Many ceramics and jades, in particular, were modelled on ancient forms.

This archaistic jade ring is in the shape of a dragon and a boy. Pendants in the shape of coiled dragons were made as early as 4000 BC, in the Hongshan culture, and the form continued into the Shang and Zhou periods (1500-221 BC). This one is ornately carved, in an archaistic fashion.

Find in the collection online

More information


J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)

J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Diameter: 11.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1885.12-27.93


Gift of Sir A.W. Franks


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore