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|Tuesday, May 01, 2001, updated at 12:06(GMT+8)|
King of Stones Takes Central StageIn preparation for the selection of the national stone of China in September, "The First Exhibition of Precious Shoushan Stones and China Shoushan Stones Industry Development Seminar" sponsored by the Fuzhou Municipal Government and the Cangtianyuan Group opened on April 28 at the Beijing Antique City, China Daily reports.
Shoushan stone, also known as agalmatolite, is commonly used for carving or collection. Shoushan stone is named after the richest resource area of agalmatolite in China -Shoushan village, located about 40 kilometres north of Fuzhou, capital city of Fujian Province.
It has been more than 1,500 years since Shoushan stone was exploited as a precious stone for its gorgeous colours, smooth and moist character and its various and changeable veins.
There are around one hundred sorts of Shoushan stone. The most precious kind - "tianhuang stone" - is more valuable than gold and enjoys a reputation as "the king of stones."
Various Shoushan stone carvings by celebrated artists are well-known in the world and are most celebrated in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, America, France, Italy and Australia.
China was one of the first countries in the world to make use of Shoushan stone.
As a carving material, Shoushan stone has a long history. According to archaeological reports, the stonewares unearthed from the Fucun Village New Stone Age Ruins near Fuzhou were mostly made of Shoushan stone.
Handicrafts made of Shoushan stone can be traced to the Southern Dynasties ��AD 420-589����
In the Tang Dynasty ��AD 618-907��, Buddhist temples in Fuzhou used to give travellers figures of Buddha, incense burners and beads made of Shoushan stone to spread it to other places.
Shoushan stone became more and more popular in the Tang and Song ��960-1279�� dynasties, when literati wrote poems about them.
In the Song Dynasty, Shoushan stone was also a common room decoration and funerary object.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, thousands of Shoushan stone figurines were unearthed from dozens of Song Dynasty tombs in Fuzhou, Minhou, Lianjiang, Jian'ou and Shaowu. The Song Dynasty was a time of fast development in Shoushan stone carving.
During the Yuan ��1271-1368 �� and Ming ��1368-1644�� dynasties, Shoushan stones were widely used to make seals. Since Cao Xuequan found out about the "king of stones," the Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang sent officials to Shoushan to collect tianhuang stone for the court.
The price of tianhuang stone has increased to more than 20,000 yuan per liang ��one liang equals 50 grams��, which is partly due to its rarity. Some good quality tianhuang stone even costs over 100,000 yuan per liang.
The development of Shoushan stone has become an important industry in Fujian Province. Carvers of Shoushan stone and related workers have reached more than 200,000.
The "Exhibition of Precious Shoushan Stones" will last until May 8.
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