Qiu Changchun, the forefather of Jade Carving in Beijing
Qiu Chuji, also known as Taoist Changchun, was the earliest ancestor of jade trade in Beijing and was called Ancestor Qiu by artisans. As the end of the Southern Song Dynasty, Ancestor Qiu was born in a town in Shangdong and his family financial situation was poverty-stricken. Not far away from his home, there was a small jade workshop, where he acknowledged somebody as his master and learned the skills of jade carving. Due to this father’s early death of illness, Ancestor Qiu discontinued his apprenticeship. Later, during the chaos caused by war, he could live on nothing but to make a living on carrying people across the river on his back.
At the riverside he happened to meet a Taoist priest. On seeing that the young man was intelligent by natural endowments, the Taoist priest accepted him as a disciple and let him roam everywhere to study jadeware as his main job so that he could learn skills and help the distressed. Afterwards, Ancestor Qiu had the opportunity to tour around China to those places rich in jade, such as Xinjiang. He learned the skills of how to look at a piece of jade and judge its worth. Besides, he also studied hard to master various kinds of workmanship for artisans.
After the Yuan Dynasty founded its capital in Beijing, Ancestor Qiu came all the way to Beijing through the northwest and settled down at the Baiyun Guan (The White Cloud Taoist Temple) to devote himself to jadeware fabrication. His nationwide touring widened his field of vision. By drawing on other people’s merits and making use of the knowledge passed on to him by the Taoist priest, every piece of jadeware he fabricated was exquisite. Not only was Ancestor Qiu proficient in jadeware himself, he also passed on his jade carving skills to others in accordance with their aptitude. With his advocate and support, the jadeware trade came into being in Beijing and the Baiyun Guan became an institute for Ancestor Qiu to pass on his skills.