DirectoryJewelry.com/blog provides all useful topics such as gemstone jewelry, diamonds, costume jewelry, pearls, charm jewelry, silver, wedding jewelry.
Since 2003

Posts Tagged ‘Jade’

The History of Jade in China

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Jade has a history in China of at least four thousands years. Unknown to some, it is found contained within the development of religion and civilization, having moved from the use of decoration on to the others such as the rites of worship and burial. Although other materials like gold, silver and bronze were also used, none of these have ever exceeded the spiritual position that jade has acquired in peoples’ minds – it is associated with merit, morality, grace and dignity. In the funeral objects of the people of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD), for example, we can see only high officials were buried with jade articles.

In the West, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds were the expensive gemstones worn by high-ranking people as status symbols, but in China, nephrite (ruan yu, 軟玉) was regarded as a status symbol, and was used for jewelry and expensive decorations.The character for jade 玉 looks almost like the character for emperor 王, with the addition of the small stroke on the bottom right that might represent a stone. The character for jade may mean “the emperor’s stone”.

During the Chinese Bronze Age and before, jade was valuable as a material for making weapons and axes. At the time, durable luxury objects, such as cups and buttons, were also made from jade.Its scarcity, because it had to be imported from Xinjiang and other faraway places, and the powers it was thought to possess to bring health and cure diseases, may be why it came to be considered the gemstone of the Emperors.

It is interesting that nephrite was imported from as far away as the region of the Taklamakan Desert, in what is now Xinjiang, 3,000 years ago.At that time, Caucasian people lived in the area. It may be that these people traded with the Shang Dynasty (1766 -1122 B.C.) of China, because all the nephrite pieces found in the Shang Dynasty tombs are from that area of Xinjiang.

During the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD), the Emperor’s burial suits were made entirely of jade pieces that were pieced together.As the various empires came and went, the intricacy of the carvings increased. Craftsmen spent more and more time to carve more intricate designs.

Jadeite wasn’t mined in China, Mongolia or Xinjiang, so when green jadeite from Burma became available after 1800, during the Qing Dynasty, it became the preferred imperial form of jade.Looking at nephrite articles of the various eras, the designs progressively became recognizably more like modern Chinese designs, like the ones from Qing Dynasty (1636–1911).