玉   History of Jade  


Cochise College Student Papers on Geology
 Paper on Jade by George Soong

Home        |        History        |        Types

 

            A Chinese myth says a man stumbled helplessly over the earth, beset by wild beasts, until the storm God took pity.  He forged a rainbow into jade axes and tossed them to earth for man to discover.  The story might be a myth, but jade as "Stone of Heaven" since nearly the beginning of Chinese civilization is fact.  The Chinese considered Jade to be "the essence of Heaven and Earth."  Jade is an essence produced through the natural forces of rivers and mountains over a long period of time.  Archaeological data indicate that the ancient Chinese from seven to eight thousand years ago were acquainted with  nephrite.

            The Chinese character for Emperor was also represented by a similar symbol. Each line represented Heaven, Earth and the Underworld. The vertical line running through the three horizontal lines represented the Emperor. There were three Emperors, one for each plane of existence. Chinese scholars today believe that the dot in the jade symbol might have been the same as the symbol for Emperor, and that the extra dot was a simple clerical error that eventually caused the symbols to be different. Jade in Chinese is pronounced (Yu).

A nephrite head was part of a full suit that encased a local king, Liu Yen buried in A.D. 90

            The word "Jade" used in modern language comes from Spanish "piedra de hijada," it means "kidney stone".  It was how the Spanish conquerors used to call the flat and rounded shiny pebbles which were used by the South American Indians to cure kidney illnesses.  It was because of their kidney shaped pieces, jade was used as amulets.  In French, the word appear in a feminine substantive which translated into "le jade."  It in turn lead to the German and English versions which are written the same way.   

   

Jadeite jade

            To old Asian and European cultures, jade was known as a stone with some healing power, specially against illnesses of the kidneys because nephrite was kidney shaped.  Also, Jade is the mystical birthstone for March, the alternative birthstone for August and the birthstone for the astrological sign of Virgo. Itís the anniversary gemstone for the 12th, 30th and 35th years of marriage. 

Jade ring with diamonds

    For the Chinese culture one of the most popular symbols to carve from jade is the sacred image of Buddha.

 

Produced by George S.

© 2003 - 2008