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Endocrine Abstracts (2009) 19 S86

SFEBES2009 Retired Endocrinologists' Session (1) (6 abstracts)

Jade, sex and a Chinese neolithic culture

D Anderson


Retired Endocrinologist, Montecastello di Vibio, Umbria 06057, Italy.

I propose to take you on a journey, which started in 2000, when I bought my first Hongshan jade carving, a reproductive piece, in Hong Kong. Since then, as my collection and my obsession have grown at very low financial cost, I have been trying to fathom out why so many ‘experts’ are completely wrong about jade, and especially Neolithic jade. This corner of collecting is truly in the dark ages, where expert opinion rules over evidence, and this is providing me with the sort of experience, albeit in a small field, that must have faced Galileo, Vesalius, or Semmelweiss. This sounds pretentious, of course, as Neolithic jade is a backwater. Or is it really?

I shall present an overwhelming artistic and scientific case for the veracity of many pieces available on Ebay, and in shops if you know where to look and if you care more for evidence than opinion. This applies to nephrite jade, and increasingly to agate, turquoise and even a unique kind of natural silica glass. I shall argue that what is happening here is nothing less than a deliberate denial of an important part of man’s Neolithic past. This follows neatly in the tradition set by the Emperor Qin (he of the terracotta warriors), around 220 BC when he destroyed all the records of China’s prehistory, as well as the more recent practices in Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’. The secrets of China’s ancienty past may be hidden in the buried jade that is currently being unearthed illegally, and under the blind eye of the authorities, faster than ever.

The problem is confounded by a big Chinese industry and market in genuine fakes; by ‘Christebys’ need for rarity to maintain prices for collectors with a high M to S ratio; and by International treaties, arising from the Cultural Heritage Crusade, which now tie the hands of museums the world over. To retain a reproductive endocrine slant and sustain interest I shall illustrate my talk with some of the best erotic art ever made; with sex, it is clear that the position may also have changed in the past 5000 years!

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