Imitating other materials

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Craftsmen in China became skilled at making glass look like other materials.

In ancient China glass was sometimes used instead of jade for burial items (see the cicadas in the section on Early Glass). It was cheaper than jade and easier to work.

From the eighteenth century (1700-1800) onwards, glass was also made to look like different types of ceramics, lacquer and semi-precious stones.

Workers in the Imperial Palace workshops in Beijing experimented widely to get the desired effects. For example, they took a few years to perfect glass with golden sparkles imitating aventurine stone (‘golden star’ in Chinese).

Click on the images to find out more about them.