Jade, The Essence of Heaven and Earth
Jade was considered more precious than diamonds in pre-Hispanic Mexico. This captivating green stone was valued with the same mystical properties in pre-historic Asian cultures. Named the “Stone from Heaven” jade has been prized in both Mesoamerica and China for thousands of years. The earliest jade object found by archeologists in China was a piece of a serpentine jade discovered in the Immortal Cave in Haicheng in the Liaoning Province. This artifact dates back to the Stone Age, more than 12,000 years ago.
How important was jade to the ancient Chinese civilization? The Philosopher Confucius was recorded reflecting on the qualities of this powerful stone. “Soft, smooth and glossy, it appeared to them like benevolence; fine, compact and strong - like intelligence.”
Called “yu” in Chinese and “ya’ax chin hun” in Mayan, the term “jade” roughly refers to a variety of metamorphic green stones including jadeites and nephrite. It cannot be fully understood by today’s culture the enormous value attributed to this stone by early civilizations.
Pure white jade was rare and highly valued in ancient times, reserved in china for Emperors and royalty. When green jade was introduced it then became the favored color by the elite.
Jade was often used as intricate ornaments for the very wealthy and symbolized the noble bearings of a gentleman. There is a Chinese saying: "The gentleman's morals are like jade." Meaning, his comportment is impeccable as jade was prized above silver and gold.
Myths and Lore:
In ancient Egypt and China, jade was used as a talisman to promote good luck and strong bonds of friendship. It was also believed to protect the wearer from malevolent spirits and promote long life. Jade is said to protect the heart, kidneys, spleen, and thyroid and in general to strengthen the body.
Symbolically jade was associated with human virtues because of its hardness, durability, and beauty. It was also esteemed by the Chinese for its lovely musical qualities, its delicate, translucent colors, and its purported safeguarding powers.
Since ancient times, songs, poems, and stories have been composed about the virtues of jade, playing upon its otherworldly and heavenly qualities.
The most prized form of jade is known as imperial jade and comes from Myanmar. It is a rich emerald green color. Jade most commonly appears in mottled green and white. The range of greens is light to dark, creamy, grayish, and varies according to location. Jade can occasionally be found in the lovely but unusual colors of yellow, pink, purple, and black. Jade is the mystical birthstone for March and for the zodiac sign Virgo. As a wedding anniversary gift, it is associated with the 12th, 30th, and 35th years.
Although much is known of the multitude of uses of this elusive and beautiful stone over the past millennia, there are still many mysteries remaining that archeologists and historians have yet to solve. While hundreds of carved jade “congs” have been found in numerous ancient sites, dating back many thousands of years, their exact religious significance remains unknown. The square carved on the outside, tubular and round on the inside artifacts are suggested to represent the connection of the earth, (square) and heavens, (round). We still, to this day, say, “the four corners of the earth,” so perhaps we are closer than we realize to solving the mystery of jade, the essence of heaven and earth.
We invite you to look over the vast assortment of beguiling jade handmade jewelry by Stephanie White and see if adding this celestial stone to your wardrobe will create a touch of heaven on earth for you.
Article by: Diane Weisbeck