Jade is a very precious gem among the Chinese people and their culture. It is commonly known as ‘YU’ among the Chinese. Chinese culture has always connect this beautiful gem with beauty and it is one of the most recognized gems associated with their history and ancient traditions and culture. The two main classifications of jade are soft jade and hard jade.
History of Jade
There is a Chinese saying that goes ‘Gold has value but jade is invaluable’. This is how much the Chinese treasure the precious and vibrant jade gem. In the western world, people always relate value and beauty to diamonds and gold, however, having such a strong tie to jade, the Chinese value jade much more than any other gem. Throughout Chinese history, respected great leaders always identified themselves with this special and valuable gem.
With such a potent trademark association, Jade was used in carvings, sculptures, ornamental decor, and jewelry making. It was also used by emperors in earlier centuries to show their power and royal status. There is enough historical evidence to suggest that jade was used to make burial suits for some of the great Chinese emperors in early centuries.
Historical and archaeological evidence shows that jade was used among the Chinese as early as 5000B.C and some of the groups that used jade were the Longshan people who lived near Yellow river, Liangzhu people near Lake Tai and Hongshan people who lived along River Lao.
Uses of jade and Its Symbolism
During Han, Zhou and Shan dynasties jade was used to make burial suits for the rich and royal people within their society, including the emperors and rulers. Jade was also important in making different objects that were used domestically and in ceremonies. Components of jade were also used to coat mouthpieces of smoker’s sticks because it was believed that it could help the smoker’s life span and general longevity. Because of its toughness, jade was used to coat weapons and handles of some special tools that were used by military commanders for their safety.
This precious gem was used to symbolize many things among the Chinese. During the various Chinese dynasties, wise leaders and emperors were loved by their people, and were often associated with the idyllic gem jade. This made the Chinese people adore and respect their emperors.
Its physical appearance alone represented justice, power, and sureness among the Chinese. Its recognition from the rest of the world symbolizes the truth and fairness among the Chinese people. Its brilliance stood for the originality of the Chinese culture and firm foundation it lies on. Jade stands for beauty and many Chinese daughters were named Jade in order to symbolize their beauty and to depict their parent’s love for them.
The two main original categories of jade (jadeite and nephrite) come in different sizes and when being carved the artist identified how the two types of jade varied. One was softer than the other and each type was unique on its own. Craftsmen carved the original stone into different shapes and sculptures that represented the Chinese culture. Jade could be carved into belt-hooks, beads and Han. The latter was an ornament placed in the mouth of people before being buried.
Overall, jade has made a tremendous symbolic impact within Chinese culture for the past thousands of years. With such a prominent presence, jade has become a staple to any Chinese home. Jade, the most luxurious gem in China, will continue to flourish in popularity as it has been part of Chinese culture since ancient times.