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Chinese Jade: Culture, Meaning & Buy Online

Updated on January 5, 2014
Green Jade (Fei Cui)
Green Jade (Fei Cui)

Jade Culture

The so-called jade culture is a unique cultural phenomenon that was gradually formed and arose during a variety of jade production processes, by the continuous development of aesthetic appreciation and sublimation over the years. It is one noticeable characteristic that differs Chinese culture and other cultures. The Stone Age marked the beginning of its origin, it has then developed, endured, and improved so much more with the times and the trend still continues. Jade jewelry is very popular around the world, especially in Asia, and China stands on the top for many good reasons, among them jade amulet is probably the most popular, a gift idea appropriate for all ages. Jade seems to be a valuable stone that will forever hold its popularity.

Crystallization Essence of Heaven & Earth

Chinese people regard jade as the crystallization essence of heaven and earth, used it as an intermediary to communicate the mind of people and God, thus giving jade with unusual religious symbolism. Taken from nature, refined jades were seen as symbols for levels of status in the imperial palace, it became the important component in maintaining social order and rules of the so-called Etiquette. Jade's special role in funerals also gives it very mysterious religious meanings.

Red Jade Amulet

Beauty of All Stones

Jade has fine texture, elegant colors, and softly smooth skin, is considered the beauty of all stones. It stands out among all gemstones and has been truly loved around the world. Technically speaking, jade is categorized as nephrite and jadeite and has broad and narrow meanings. The broad meaning covers not only nephrite and jadeite, it also includes crystal, agate, serpentine, marble, turquoise, lapis lazuli and other varieties; while the narrow meaning refers to the mineralogy of jade specifically, which is sub-divided as nephrite (soft jade) and jadeite (hard jade). Nephrite has the Mohs hardness scale of 6 to 6.5, and density of 2.55 to 2.65, the main ingredient is fiber calcium silicate. Jadeite, on the other hand, is specifically refers to what we call jade, of which Mohs hardness scale is 6.75 to 7, the density is 3.2-3.3, the main ingredients are sodium silicate and aluminum silicate. Only after the 18th century, jadeite began to be widely used by artisans in China, so the vast majority of ancient Chinese jade products were made of nephrite.

Red Jade Peacock Charm Pendant
Red Jade Peacock Charm Pendant

Gentleman as Jade

Beauty of jade comes from nature, which is reflected from the inside penetration, subtle, implicit, and full of endless charm. Therefore, the process of jade appreciation is often the formation of special kind of aesthetic ideas, and it then produces pleasure. Jade is round and smooth outside, but the nature is hard as steel, so the jade itself has some of the natural characteristics of analogy in the moral quality, and it is perfectly consistent with the realm of morality sought by gentlemen. During the Era Warring States period, as the emergence of the Confucian culture, ghost culture and ancestors living became further apart, the nobility of State who advocated "watch objects and compare them to morality" were proclaiming "gentleman as jade", and the wise have likened jade to virtue that a gentleman should possess and praise, and jade became the standard for judging people. "When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade". It was recorded as the great creation of Chinese people. The fact that jade in ancient China created spiritual and cultural civilization is a very interesting special case in the world, it is the lively materialization of eastern spirits, and the foundation of the essence of traditional Chinese culture.

White Jade Sculpture
White Jade Sculpture

Ward Off Evil

Back in ancient times, the Chinese ancestors already began jade exploration. In the eyes of their ancestors, the natural world itself contains all the potential inherent energy in life, all share the same spiritual characteristics as human. This is a concept known as "animism". The spirit for the origin of life and the power for the mysterious life force is filled in all kinds of materials, create mutual penetration through contact and sense with humans. Thus, the original religion came into being. Driven by such Religious Complex, the ancestors worked very hard to create an atmosphere full of spiritual mystery, and its specific manifestation was to communicate with the invisible mysterious objects through tattoos and wearing accessories, thus gain possession of all things spiritual and vitality. Historically in China, jade has been used largely for this purpose. When the quality and grade of jade requirements became more sophisticated, only the hard and tough, colorful, delicate and transparent jade could be crowned "beauty". The amphibole comes out from Hetian, Xinjiang is regarded the most authentic and priceless due to its suet-like and mellow feel. Ancient shamans gave jade the function of warding off evil and eliminating disaster, so the society generally believed that carved jade dragon and phoenix could forever preserve peace; jade mythical beasts could conquer the evil and hazard; wearing jade amulet would work similar.

Beautiful Jade Sculpture
Beautiful Jade Sculpture

Jade Is Priceless

Since ancient times, the word "jade" has been a wonderful, noble word. In ancient poetry, "jade" was commonly used to describe all the good people or things. For example, Yu Rong and Yu Mian (both refers to "jade face" which means beautiful face), Yu girl (beautiful girl), Yu Shan and Yu Shi (delicious meal), Yu Quan (sweet spring water), etc.; since jade represents beauty, grace and purity, it has been used in quite a long list of idioms or phrases to denote beautiful things and people, many of them are frequently used by the Chinese today. The Chinese character Yu is often used in Chinese names (my name happens to have this word).

The polish and brilliancy represent purity; its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent the sureness of intelligence; its angles represent justice; the pure and prolonged sound represents music; its color represents loyalty; its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind sincerity; its iridescent brightness represents heaven; its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth; used alone without ornamentation, it represents chastity. The price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth.

Chinese Jade Culture

Different Chinese Jade

Comments

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    • snakebaby profile imageAUTHOR

      Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) 

      7 years ago from Boston, MA, USA

      Hi Philip, nice to see you again here. Some of amazon listings are not single product, therefore there's no specific price, but why not just take it as priceless jade? hehe... Thanks for the complement and your support. I've been addicted to jade these days, and learned a lot about it, and correcting any wrong info along the way. If you see anything that is not accurate, please let me know :)

    • sgphilgoh profile image

      sgphilgoh 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Yu Quan (sweet spring water)

      What a beautifully written article. I notice that some pieces have no price tags, particularly the more beautiful ones. Does that mean that these are priceless and not for sale?

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