Learn about Soapstone

Soapstone is a soft rock, that has been carved by the Chinese for centuries, and is still being carved today. The name derives from the soap-like feel that some of the softer grades of soapstone have. The softness of the rock is due to talc in its composition, and the amount of talc can vary from 80% (very soft) to about 30%. On the Mohs scale of hardness, soapstone has a hardness of 1 to 5, whereas jade has a hardness of 6 to 6.5. It is often possible to scratch a piece of soapstone with a fingernail or knife blade. Because of continuing production over several centuries, it can be difficult to date soapstone carvings, and there are many that were made for the tourist market. Soapstone carvings are generally not expensive and the quality of the carving and the size and colouring of the soapstone contribute to the determination of value. Colours of soapstone can vary and include off-white, red, green and brown.

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These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.

Oriental soapstone figural mounted inkwell, 25 cm high, 31 cm wide, 11 cm D

i) a Chinese jadeite birds figure group, mid 20th century, with wooden stand. Height 14 cm, ii) a Chinese carved soapstone mantle piece early 20th Cenuty, the upper dection carved with encrusted flowers with onlooking bird lower. Height 33.5 cm

A Chinese soapstone oval trough, carved with the grape & Squirrel, design on the front, the back plain, 20th century, on four low legs, Length 20 cm, H 9.5 cm

Two porcelain ducks with Nao chicken and chicks two small soapstone chickens and a glass bied 19.5 cm ht tallest

Chinese Shoushan (soapstone) carved temple measures 10 cm x 18 cm

A Chinese soapstone Buddha figure. In mottled grey cream flecked with iron red colours and touches of amber, a semi reclining figure draped in flowing robes, lightly engraved with floral patterns; upon a fabric covered display stand. Height 7 cm. Width 9 c

A Chinese carved soapstone mantle piece, early 20th century, the upper section carved with encrusted flowers, with onlooking bird lower. Height 33.5 cm

A Chinese carved soapstone Recumbent deer, mid 20th century, with carved ebonised wood base. Height 13 cm. Length 17 cm

A Chinese soapstone Guanyin, Republic era, mid 20th century, the amber toned figure of a serene Guanyin with a diadem, and ornately relief carved wave and flower scrolled robes, with a jewelled bodice and raised upon a double lotus base, the standing figur

A Chinese soapstone carved mountain, people's Republic era, second half 20th century, Utilising the natural contours of the stone, the rich amber toned stone delicately relief carved with a narrative comprising two seated figures in a traditional lands

A pair of Chinese soapstone seals, Qing Dynasty, late 19th to 20th century, in mellow amber tones, the small plinth style seals surmounted by crouching and snarling lion dog figures, one face of each with script and having seal marks underside with remnant

A Chinese soapstone figure of a monk, finely carved with floring robes, depicted holding an interesting staff featuring a skeleton, height 25 cm

A Chinese soapstone deity figure, in rich semi translucent amber tones, depicting a deity figure with a tall head dress and flowing beard and seated upon a throne like chair, holding a rugged timber staff with a double gourd in his right hand, upon a fitte

Near pair of Chinese soapstone vases, carved with flowers (2). Approx. Height 25 cm

A white soapstone carved Buddha halo origin unknown, possibly Chinese 13 cm high

A small soapstone Buddha with halo surround missing fingers to one hand 11 cm high

A vintage soapstone bearded Buddha seating on plinth 16 cm high

Chinese soapstone gentleman and temple dog figure on timber base, height 15 cm approx

A pair of Chinese carved soapstone vases on carved stone stands, 20th century. 20 cm

A Chinese carved soapstone mountain, utilising the natural arching shape of the amber coloured stone and relief carved with figures playing chess in a pavilion and traditional landscape setting, with a fitted timber stand. Height 9 cm. (on stand)

A Chinese soapstone sage figure, in rich amber coloured soapstone, the contemplative elder figure with a long beard and coiffed hair and a small Crown seated upon a rocky base, the right arm raised in a gesture of karana mudra, and the left cradling a whis

A Chinese soapstone bird carving, the olive green grey stone modulating to amber with touches of red, well carved and pierced in a striking asymmetric arrangement depicting birds upon a gnarled pine tree branch and a rockwork base. Height 18 cm. Width 30 c

Chinese Carved soapstone 'Temple Dog' (A/F), approx 13 cm high, 18 cm long

Large Chinese carved soapstone chop, the square shape decorated on top with lions above figures flanked by pillars, height 21 cm

Tall soapstone figure, woman and child (slight A/F)

Chinese soapstone brush pot. Mountain scene cartouches. Height 20 cm

An embellished hardwood portable chest, Guanpixiang, 19th/20th century the wood probably huanghuali, of square form, the flat topped hinged cover with metal ruyi -head clasp and corner mounts, lifting to reveal a shallow compartment over a pair of panelled

A Chinese zitan and soapstone figure of Guanyin, carved with downcast gaze, wearing her hair in a high chignon, depicted holding a scroll, with flowing robes, seated on a rock formation, 36.5 cm high

A late 19th / early 20th century Chinese soapstone or jade bowl decorated with a dragon in high relief, a mythical frog and two organic form handles. Archaic characters to body, unknown mark to base. Height 10 cm. Width 25 cm. Provenance: E.A Stanton estat

Chinese carved soapstone sensor with dragon head to both sides and lid, height 14 cm approx

Korean soapstone carving of a lion with brocade ball, on wooden stand. Height 12 cm. Provenance: purchased from Shureck collection Sydney, 1955. Estate of D'Arcy Ryan labels: cf. For comparison Christies, 11.10.73, lot 308

A Chinese soapstone carving of a lohan, 11 cm high. Provenance: NSW Private Collection, purchased in Stanley and Co. on 22 Feb 2004

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