The word "jade" communicates a sense of mystery. In Chinese, "jade" (yu) refers to a fine and beautiful stone with a warm color and rich luster, which is skillfully and delicately carved. Jade in China is still seen as containing properties that promote good health, good luck and protection. Carved ritualistic and ornamental objects continue to play an indispensable role in many aspects of Chinese life. They are an eternal symbol of an ancient civilization.
Of all materials in the world of Chinese antiquities, jade best exemplifies the essential aspects of Chinese culture, such as nobility, perfection, constancy, and immortality. Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC) even concluded jade had many virtues, namely benevolence, fidelity, courtesy, etiquette, wisdom and sincerity, etc.
As Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC) said, there are 10 De (virtue) in jade:
- its polish and brilliancy represent the whole of purity;
- its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent the sureness of intelligence;
- its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp, represent justice;
- its pure and prolonged sound represents music;
- its color represents loyalty;
- its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, represents sincerity;
- its iridescent brightness represents heaven;
- its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth;
- used alone without ornamentation it represents chastity;
- the value that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth.
In Asia, jade has influenced all walks of life. Jade was a Royal Gemstone in China and Asia, used as the Emperor Seal in the Palace, as the totems and the Essence of Heaven and the Earth in eastern religion. The imperial seal of the Qin dynasty, the first feudal society in China, was made of jade.
Jade also has been the symbol of love and virtue for thousands of years in China. It is used for both spiritual and ornamental purposes. It is the symbol of power and associated with heroes, the symbols of pure, noble and sublime, and stands for morality. It was used for ritual utensil, funeral utensils, accessories, currency, weapons, diplomatic gifts, musical instruments (since the sound is pleasing to the ear and travels far) and food containers.
It is also a symbol of ethics and norms. In ancient times, only aristocrats could own jade wares. It was not just a piece of jewelry, it was a part of one's being—a gentleman would never discard his jade ornaments in Chinese culture.
Chinese people believed that jade ornaments could resist invasion of evil influence and create safety. The Taoists believed jade could keep one immortal physically. Jade carvings are used as amulets to protect people from disease and calm their emotions with spirituality in Buddhism.
Jade ornaments have remained popular up until the present day. Purchasing, wearing, and giving of jade items as gifts are still very popular. Today, too, this gem is regarded as a symbol of the good, the beautiful and the precious. It embodies the Confucian virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage. It is revered by Asians as the most precious stone to possess the power of good luck, good health, and the ability to resist evil spirit and to get rid of bad luck.
Learn more About Jade:
History of Jade
How Jade Differs
How to Make Jade Jewelry
How to Identify Jade Quality
How to Care For Jade Jewelry