Dummies’ Guide to the Jade Belt

Xuefei-jun, the author of the jade-belt tutorial. He is wearing a blue yesa with an embroidered zhaojia.

Source: http://tieba.baidu.com/p/1722124683?pn=1
Original title: 明代 革带 玉带 制作研习 [Ming era leather belt/jade belt making exercise]
By: Xuefeiun 雪飛君
Translation: Juni Yeung

Translation foreword: There is not much to translate for this post. The author’s photo essay is very intuitive and descriptive in its images, but it lacks descriptions in the materials and techniques in the carving and resin preparation. He attributes the resin-making expertise to another group in Beijing, so staying true to the original text, no addendum will be added on the resin preparation method.

According to Dong Jin’s Daming Yiguan Tuzhi, this tutorial lacks detailing on the metal hook and buckle work, as well as the absence of two small pieces of jade known as the Zuofu and Youbi , situated between the Yuantao and Tawei. For a glossary of the Chinese terms, please refer to the image below:

A glossary of the Jade Belt’s parts’ names. Image from Daming Yiguan Tuzhi.


Because of the high prices of jade, custom orders of jade carvings is only even more restrictive. So, why not enrich our own life by doing it ourselves? I have collected a lot of materials on the jade belt, and Jiefang Zhuren’s Daming Yiguan Tuzhi has given me great help. Ming-era jade belts are mostly worn loose and are seldom strapped tightly around the body. But, I still made it tight. Due to the length constraints, the Paifang squares are now arranged vertically.

Let’s take a look at the final product first:

The jade belt.

Let us begin, by carving the leather strips: 

Leather strips for the 3-part belt.

And then let us begin carving. Our models will be made in fine oil clay.
The Santai [“three platforms”, front buckle] part consists of five-clawed dragon and auspicious cloud motifs. 

Carving the Santai.

The Yuantao [“round peach”, front decor plates] is a Chrysanthemum-out-of-Water motif. I couldn’t wait and wanted to try putting it onto the belt to see the effect first!

Carving the Yuantao.

The Tawei [“tail weights”, belt tips] is made with the douniu [“dipper-ox”, one of the 28 Chinese constellations] motif. For a moment, it turned out to be really a ‘bull’ of a job! 

Carving the Tawei.

The Paifang [“aligned squares”, back decor plates] making details are as follows. 

Carving the Paifang.

After the models are made, time to make the moulds. Thanks to “Perfect World [wanmei shijie]” and “Tiangong Modellers [tiangong muojie shoubanzu]” for their assistance!

Making the moulds for resin replicas.

Fine-tuning the resin material, quality check and installation. 

Moulding and assembly of the Jade belt.


The completed jade belt, with all its parts separated.


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July 2012
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