During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period (770 – 221 BC), vassals would contend for hegemony and jade ware and bronze ware were produced on a large scale as ritual vessels, heralding in a second peak of rulers’attention to jade ware in the Chinese history. During the period, jade objects were made in large numbers and with high quality material. In addition, lots of beautifully shaped jade ware was innovatively created with ever-maturing jade carving techniques. Numerous jade objects have been unearthed from the tombs of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period in provinces like Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei and Hebei etc.
The jade ware of the early Spring and Autumn Period retains the plane and simple style of the Western Zhou Dynasty, but shows some signs of exquisiteness and elaborateness. The jade sculpture of a human head on a snake body, jade headwear and jade dragons excavated from Huang Junmeng’s tomb in Henan Province are typical fine carving decorative objects in low relief or shade lines. The innovative patterns include dragon head patterns, tiger skin patterns and hornless dragon patterns etc, with the protruding teeth design popular in the Western Zhou Dynasty evolved into square ridge teeth in a straight line.
The jade ware of the early Warring States Period has transitional colors, such as the jade plates excavated from the Tomb of Marquis Yi of the Zeng State. Thanks to the exchanges between jade ware producing areas, a unified style of the times was formed. The gray jade belt hooks unearthed from the Kings’ Tomb of Zhongshan State in Pingshan County, jade earrings from the royal tomb of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty in Jincun Village of Luoyang are representative jade pieces of the middle and late Warring States Period, reflecting the jade ware techniques at that time.
The jade ware of the Warring States Period is featuring high-quality material, exquisite carving techniques, smooth lines, widely used incised lines and the creative paralleled thick and thin lines; but there are just a small number of human figure carvings, which are created using decorative techniques, with the facial features highlighted in short incised lines. The most auspicious animals featured in jade pieces are dragons, followed by tigers and phoenixes. The use range of jade ware became wider during that period, when combined jade plates, jade ornaments for swords and jade belt hooks were created in large numbers. The jade ware of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period has distinctive styles and is exceptionally exquisite, with lifelike animal images.