In the mid-fifteenth century a unique piece of jade is discovered in south-western China. Within days its discoverer is murdered. The jade is stolen, but the thieves themselves die at the hands of a cousin of the emperor Dai Zong, a powerful military leader, who sends the jade to Beijing where is it carved into a masterpiece depicting two identical dragons. Identical, that is, but for one remarkable feature. The sculpture is presented to the emperor by his kinsman but he spurns the gift and the jade is stolen once again and sold out of China along the Silk Road to Arabia.
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