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Lithological Characteristics and Provenance Consideration on the Jade Investiture Books of Joseon Dynasty in National Palace Museum of Korea
국립고궁박물관 소장 조선왕조 옥책의 암석학적 특징과 산지검토
Econ. Environ. Geol. 2019 Oct;52(5):485-97
Published online October 31, 2019;
Copyright © 2019 the Korean society of economic and environmental gelology.

Chan Hee Lee and Jun Hyoung Park*
이찬희 · 박준형*

Department of Cultural Heritage Conservation Sciences, Kongju National University, Gongju, 32588, Korea
공주대학교 문화재보존과학과
Received September 16, 2019; Revised October 10, 2019; Accepted October 10, 2019.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The Jade Investiture Books in Joseon Dynasty shows diverse facies with various petrographic characteristics to green and white based on color. In lithologically, the green rocks are jade composed of calcite and serpentine, and the white ones are marbles consisting mainly in crystalline calcite. As a result of X-ray diffraction of jade rocks, the more green in color, the more increased intensity of serpentine appears. Therefore, the grade of jade is correlated with contents of serpentine. The Jade Investiture Books owned by the National Palace Museum of Korea are subdivided with 104 (41.3%) books made by only jade rocks, 98 (38.9%) books made by only marbles, and 50 (19.8%) books mixed with jade rocks and marbles. Among the mixed ones, 47 (18.6%) books consisted mainly of the marbles. This result shows the superior marble books occupy more than half of the total books. The Jade Investiture Books made in early Joseon Dynasty are composed of high grade jade. However, the grade of jade had decreased as the kings changed in process of time, and the composition of marble had increased in reverse proportion of jade. The quality of letter pigments, metal accessories and fabrics also had decreased with jade. These trends are reflected in the aspect of society such as weakening royal authority, national power and finance with the course of time. The jade of the books has different mineralogical characteristics from some modern jade produced in Chuncheon nephrite and Buyeo precious serpentine in Korea. Meanwhile, there is ancient literature that described quarries from Namyang in Hwaseong of Gyeonggi province. This area has a wide distribution of gneiss, limestone and limesilicate rocks are interbedded between muscovite schist. The limesilicate rocks contain diopside, which produced serpentine through alteration. It has possibility to make the Jade Investiture Books using these small amounts of jade through mining activity.
Keywords : Jade Investiture Books, Joseon Dynasty, Jade, Marble, Serpentine


December 2019, 52 (6)