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Jade Masterpiece


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I first met Whittaker Freegard (Whit) in about 1979 maybe 1980. At this time both Whit and myself were up and coming lapidary artists. One of the first things I ever saw that Whit had made was a carved black jade Shakuhachi.


Your probably asking yourself what’s a Shakuhachi, well it’s a Japanese traditional flute that is made from bamboo, and here Whit is showing me one carved from black jade in miniature, his was about 6 inches long while the real bamboo flutes are about 18 to 24 inches. The detail on Whits carving was hard to believe, looked exactly like a small piece bamboo but it was carved from jade ........... Needless to say this made quite the impression on me, when he played it for me I was even more impressed, absolutely beautiful notes emanated.


From this time until his death a few years ago Whit and I remained very close friends and every time I saw Whit it was time for many new treats for the eye and ear. Whit had a booth at one of the Tucson shows for years, I’d walk up and he’d start to show me his latest, every time we’d do this I’d ask him to play one of his new musical carvings, as soon as Whit would start to play a crowd would gather ........ Again needless to say the tones that emanated could not be resisted.


About twenty years ago when I walked up to Whits booth I saw a carving that was obviously inspired by the same source that had inspired me some years prior. I asked Whit “Is this inspired from the Faberge book ? ” He said yes, I said its pretty amazing, I carved this same carving from fossil ivory in 1980 and always wished I’d kept it. Whit thought it was great that we’d both been inspired by the same carving from the same book and told me he would make a trade with me if I had the interest .......... I had the interest.


I have had this carving in storage for over ten years and when I got to unpack it the other day one of my first thoughts, you need to share this with those on the carving path.


Well here it is I took an image of the piece in my hand so you can get a good idea of its size, as you can see it’s a hear no evil, see on evil, speak no evil monkey carving all in one. The piece is carved from Jadeite (Whits stone of choice) a superior jade carving in itself if that was all it was. Well this jade carving is far more it’s a tuned Ocarina in G major, when you play it, it is hard to believe that the tonal quality is perfect and that the volume of tone it produces can almost hurt your ears ............. Wish I could let you all hear it.


I put a close up of Whits MOP reserve so you can all see how he signed his pieces, perhaps one day you will be in the right place at the right time and have one of his pieces offered for sale or trade ......... If so do it if at all possible.



Hope all of you get some inspiration .......... All my best ........ Danny







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That's a beautiful piece, thank you for sharing it with us all Danny!


I can only aspire to carve that well one day, especially to carve something that has actual functionality.


I have a respect for all artwork that is Japanese to begin with, (especially Netsuke) and their culture, having spent since 1989 on Vancouver island where there is a huge Asian population, I kinda miss it now that I'm back home in nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada where there really is no Asian population.1


I actually got kinda "burned out" of "Chinese" artwork, having been immersed in it for so long, and that is also why I'm so drawn to the ancient Olmec, Mayan and all Central American artwork, but Japanese art has never failed to impress me and give me inspiration, especially Netsuke.


Thanks again for posting that Danny, you are a true inspiration!


Chris ;)

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Thanks for sharing that Danny. I met Whit through the netsuke world. We met a few times at conventions and Jean and I spent some time in Arizona with him and Linda. Whit was an amazing artist and musician. We had the same experience at the Netsuke conventions of hearing his notes enlivening the occasions. He was a gentleman who, if he sensed your unease, would try to ease a situation.


He is missed and I meet people in many fields who were touched by his quality.



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