A Brief History on Jade

During Monday’s lecture Professor Watrall lecture on The Ancient Chinese State he about the “Cong & Bi” and how it has significant representations in their culture. But really caught my attention was the material that they were made from-Jade. Usually when I hear someone talking about I instantly think about the old school kung fu movies where there is the “Evil Jade Emperor” and a young village boy who has to master a certain martial art to stop the emperor’s tyranny. Now I know the only reason for the emperor’s to have that jade in their name was to help show that they are elite and I’m not saying that jade represents anything evil but when professor was talking about it in class it peaked my curiosity so I did a little searching and found out some pretty sweet information its involvement with Chinese culture.

Although that jade is found in Central America, Brazil, Burma, India and Canada no other culture able to rival China’s vast amount of jade art and jewelry. The usage of jade in Chinese culture and History dates back to almost nine thousand years ago. During that time many Imperial families used it for grave goods, it was also used for adornment for kings, utilitarian and ceremonial objects. The milky green stone was viewed as a metaphor for human virtues because of its hardness, durability and beauty. There was a Chinese philosopher by the name of Confucius who famously said the good virtue of man is like jade. It represents dignity, blessing, fortune and longevity. White jade is the most highly valued, but the stone comes in a variety of translucent shades of green, brown and black. It was said that jade links both the spiritual and physical world, it encapsulates both the yin and yang qualities of heaven and earth which later gave way to it being nicknamed “The Stone of Heaven”.   There was a record from a 200 A.D. dictionary that defined jade as the “fairest of stones” and enriched with the five virtues charity, rectitude, wisdom, courage and equity. There is a lot of deep meaning with Jade and there is also superstitions that come along with it. Over time jade naturally changes color, it gradually shifts to a darker green. The Chinese believe that jade is a purifier, it helps with blood circulation and also it absorbs bad chi, hints its change to a darker shade. I found this article to really be interesting because I didn’t know that jade had such history and deep meaning.

Here’s a link if you want to know a little more about jade in Chinese culture and to also look at some pretty solid pictures of Jade art: http://history.cultural-china.com/en/182History6209.html

1 thought on “A Brief History on Jade

  1. cermakj1

    As I was reading your article on jade I came to wonder how ancient civilizations could have mined jade seeing as it was such a hard stone and could have been difficult to reach. I looked up some ancient techniques for mining jade and also some modern ones to see how they have evolved.

    Jade is commonly found in veins embedded in walls of rocks, boulders and in river streams in much smaller quantities . At first the ancients most likely just picked the jade out of rivers however when they realized where it could also be found they were forced to use some time consuming techniques such as building a fire near a line of jade and letting the stone warm up so at night the cold temperatures would crack the stone and also the ‘winter’ technique where they would drill holes in the boulder and fill it with water and come back up the mountain in the spring and collect the jade from the split rock. They would then have to put the slabs on the back of camels and carry them back down the mountains.

    The modern technique of jade mining uses earth moving machines such as backhoes to find the line of jade and then creates mining shafts to mine the jade. When they are looking for jade in boulders tap the rock with a metal tool as boulders with jade make a different sound or the look for a different texture of stone. They then drill into the rock.

    (Modern Techniques) http://www.palagems.com/burma_jade.htm
    (Ancient techniques) http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Nephrite

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