History’s Gems: Chinese Jade

History's Gems

Jade LionsJade is the primary hardstone of Chinese sculpture.  Used since the Neolithic period, Jade has been mined in China along the Henan and Yangtze Rivers since prehistoric times.  Modern Chinese Jade is largely mined from the northwestern province of Xinjiang.  Throughout history, Chinese Jade has been prized for its hardness, durability, musical qualities and beauty.  Jade is wrapped up in many layers of Chinese culture and tradition.  It has been and is still used in traditional Chinese medicine and as an artistic medium.

Jade CarvingsJade Throughout Chinese History

Jade has been used in nearly every period of Chinese history.  The earliest pieces, from the Neolithic period, were typically simple renderings of tools and weapons, thought to be used in political or religious rituals.  Jade pieces from the Shang, Zhou and Han dynasties have increased embellishment in the form of animal and other decorative motives.  Pieces from this time became objects of everyday use for the elite, just as belt hooks, vases and jewelry.

Jade FishJade and the Afterlife

Due to Jade’s ethereal and translucent colours, it has historically been associated with concepts of the soul and immortality.  Jade was used in ancient ceremonies, whose original meanings and purposes have been lost to time.  In the Han dynasty, royalty and the wealthy were buried in suits of Jade that were sewn together with gold thread because they believed it would preserve the body and the soul attached to it.

Jade and Jewelry

Jade has been and continues to be a popular stone choice for jewelry pieces.  Wearing Jade is believed to promote wisdom, balance and peace.  It is also thought to relieve anxiety and fear and protect the wearer from negativity.  Jade is traditionally associated with the planet Neptune and the zodiac signs associated with the water element.  From elaborately carved pendant necklaces to simple bangle bracelets to smooth teardrop earrings, Jade is a beautiful choice to include in your jewelry repertoire.

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