"Stone of Heaven" at Koldinghus - 2nd part

The "Stone of Heaven" exhibition at Koldhinghus, Denmark

22 January 2017 - 27 August 2017

2nd part

Intrigued by the jade collection of Prince Henrik of Denmark, we decided to make the trip to Denmark to discover a part of this collection which was displayed at Koldinghus, in Kolding, Denmark.

The truth is that we have never been more puzzled than when we got out of the exhibition.

We knew that Prince Henrik of Denmark, born in Talence (France) had spent the first years of his life in Indochina and that he was fond of jade. We also knew that his jade collection was displayed in three places: Fredensborg Palace (Denmark), Amalienborg Palace (Denmark), and Cayx Castle (France), and that part of this collection had been gathered at Koldinghus for this special exhibition.

Why are we puzzled? Because we thought that exhibiting Prince Henrik's collection would give a clearer view of jade to the public, with explanations about meanings of jade, as well as historical and gemmological points. And that the focus would be made between "real" jade and fake jade (the latter might represents 90 to 95 % of the world market)

The exhibition is pleasant, especially since Koldinhus is a well restaured castle, but we have the feeling that pieces are more present in quantity than quality.

Of course it is difficult to judge by seeing pieces through a showcase but it seems that the great majority of the pieces is not jade. Adding to the confusion, except in the second room where pieces from the National Museum of Danemark are displayed and their composition is stated, no indication of origin is mentioned.

Information panels indicate the various kinds of jade, jadeite and nephrite, but without any relationship with the items displayed above. All materials are mixed, without any explanation. 

The Prince seems to show the most objects possible, without focusing on jade (or more widely material) quality. He says in a video that he only buys what he likes, which is a good thing. But when items are displayed in a museum exhibition, one expects more rigour, particularly concerning comments: in a video, the Prince takes a carving out of a carboard box and is ectatic about this beautiful "jade" object which can be seen in the exhibition but the problem is that this statue does not seem to be jade, but serpentine (which is often called by the commercial name "China jade" in Asie).

The piece that the Prince takes off the carboard box seems to be the same that the one displayed in the exhibition: 

No explanation is made about treated (and often dyed) jade while several specimens are a crying example of poor quality dyed jade/stone. 

above, the green and purple piece displays colours which are probably due to a dying process

Whether it be in Denmark or elsewhere, the public has often a very confusing, and sometimes erroneous idea about jad. So we can only regret that this exhibition gives a more confusing idea about jade. We are sorry, but we think that this exhibition would have never taken place should the owner have not been the Prince of Danemark.

We want to thank the team of Koldinghus for their warm welcome as well as Ms Nanna Ebert, Head of Communication. This visit was a way to discover this superb castle with very interesting rooms, especially the ones with exceptional silver pieces.

Koldinghus, South of Denmark

medals and Danish medal winners of the Beijing Olympic Games (2008); jade used for the gold medal is very rare white nephrite jade

the right pendant, worn by the Prince on the poster of the exhibition, is a very beautiful green imperial jadeite jade from Myanmar