Jade is one of the stones with a long history because from earliest time Man used this mineral among other to make his tools. Among the archaeological finds excavated in both Europe and Asia were artifacts of a wide variety. Swiss Lake dwellings, Neolithic sites in Ireland, England, Sicily and parts of Europe, Central Asia and China yielded objects to archaeologists.
Old nephrite workshops were found near Maurach in Switzerland, Austria, North Germany, Italy and among the Alps. The earliest relics discovered so far in this country date back to the time of ancient Pyus (A.D. 3rd to 9th century). They include ornaments and beads, rings and carvings of elephant figurines.
Ancient people used the mineral not only for practical purpose but also for serving their superstitions. Polished axe-pendants found in Malta were used to ward off evil spirits. Greeks called jade “kidney stone” because they discovered that it cured the diseases of the kidney. When the Spanish annexed Mexico they discovered a kind of jade there and called it the loin stone.
Historians say that Sir Walter Raleigh introduced it to England and used the Spanish name for it. To a layman the term ‘jade” is rather misleading, Myanmars call it nkyauk sein” which literally means green stone, but this is not necessarily of green color only, and there are stones with other colors, but Burmese jadeite is probably the best green stone.
This has a high commercial value and the area around the confluence of the Uru stream and the Ayeyarwady or Irrawaddy River in the Kachin State of Myanmar is the main source of supply.
But curiously enough this semiprecious stone in the past had little or no use in its native land although it plays an important role in the cultural life of the Chinese.
History is a long one
and it seems to have been known to the Chinese since the dawn, for they used it for a variety of purpose: social, religious and ceremonial. Excavations at the prehistoric and historic sites in various parts of China produced numerous artifacts and relics made of the mineral ranging from hunting and agricultural implements such as flint, axes, arrowheads, knives, daggers, chisels, spearheads to religious and cultural symbols.
Also insignias such as status figurines, seals, mirrors, mortuary amulets, ornaments, jewellery, musical instruments, flute and gong.
Chinese craftsmen through the ages have shown their extraordinary skill in jade carving. The Han Period (200 B.0 – A.D. 200) achieved a high degree of excellence in carving and engraving.
Chinese superstitions regarding the stone
is well documented. They believed that the mineral possessed
supernatural powers and transcendental values. It is imbued with “Yang” which means soul substance associated with all gods. Hence to possess this stone is to fulfill one’s physical and spiritual needs. According to ancient Chinese, all elixirs of life were concentrated in it. Pounded jade and gold, if taken, is believed to renew youth and promote longevity. Bits of the mineral were swallowed with water by Chinese royalty and nobility.
The mineral was also regarded as protection against all natural and supernatural disturbances. Thus sages, philosophers and alchemists drank dew from jade cups and stored their food and medicine amulets, etc., in bowls or covered containers. To prevent putrefaction nine apertures of the corpse of a high-born were blocked with the stones.
While ancient Egyptians preserved the dead body by mummifications, ancient Chinese encased the corpse with nephrite to prevent decomposition. Green stone coffins were excavated from royal tombs, suits sewn with golden threads draping bodies of a Han dynasty prince and princess are on display at
The translucent Myanmar Jade Buddha shown here are in a price range of $ 2000,- to 3000,-
This version of art is a very skilful one, considering the immense hardness of the material its unbelievable to create such artwork, Chinese jade history tells more about it.
the Beijing Palace Museum. Ancient Chinese belief in life thereafter developed the custom of burying objects with the dead.
Mortuary objects were generally of two kinds– first, representatives of articles of which the dead person was particularly fond of and everyday items which he or she had used, and second, charms and amulets which would keep the body intact and help its resurrection when the spirit returns to its abode. Those who could not afford the stone made paper dummies to be burnt at the grave.
Ancient Jade Art
Taiwan was a Export Center already up to 5000 years ago. Export of the green stone was once the heart of a thriving business. Southeast Asia was the main market for their products, as researchers found out in 2007. At that time Southeast Asia had a widespread trading network.
The Jadeite from Feng Tian in the east of Taiwan was apparently so popular that it become an export hit. 144 artifacts were examined by Hsiao-Chun Hung from the Australian National University in Canberra and his team of researchers. Old samples were found in Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The material, of 116 of the surveyed items, had the same origin: Feng Tian, jewelry from Vietnam and the Philippines had astonishing similarities.
“The chemical composition shows their origin,” the researchers report in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. The composition show that 116 jade artworks are of Feng Tian Jade, “the origin of the rest remains unknown.” Feng Tian-Jade is characterized by a translucent light green with darker spots.
The 144 surveyed pieces were found during excavations in the Asian countries. It appears that several countries had workshops, in which Feng Tian-Jade was processed. The items were very small, produced and exported in constant volume plus re exported again.
Especially interesting was that the products of all these different workshops are very similar. Across Southeast Asia between 500 and 500 AD, earrings, jewelry beads, bracelets and pendants, often in the form of two headed animals were popular.
Apparently, a veritable fashion wave with similar designs rolled over Asia. In the years before 500 BC, the Feng Tian material was processed in Taiwan only.
Already around 3000 BC were workshop in Feng Tian. The earliest mineral found in the Philippines were from around 2000 BC. Before it was assumed that all of the Jadeite in the Philippines came from China but now its sure that the bulk came from Feng Tian. The export operations of the Taiwanese were surprisingly extensive, in .
particular the navigation skills of the ship crew’s must have been extraordinary not only with ancient jade.
Nephrite was was also regarded as protection
against all natural and supernatural disturbances. Thus sages, philosophers and alchemists drank tea from jade cups and stored their food and medicine amulets, etc., in the bowls or containers. To prevent putrefaction nine apertures of the corpse of a high-born were blocked with gold. While ancient Egyptians preserved the dead body by mummifications, ancient Chinese encased the corpse with the mineral to prevent decomposition. Stone coffins were excavated from royal tombs. Suits sewn with golden threads draping bodies of a Han dynasty prince and princess are on display at the Beijing Palace Museum.