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Chinese Jade

chinese-character-jade.jpg

Chinese jade has been around for a long time. Jade ornaments have been unearthed in the tomb of the Shang kings so it is evident jade has been mined from as early as 6000BC.

In fact during Neolithic times, the known sources of nephrite jade in China were the now exhausted deposits in the Ningshao area in the Yangtze River Delta (Lanzhou 3400 - 2250 BC) and also in an area of the Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia (Hongshan culture 4700 - 2200 BC).

Since time immemorial jade has had great significance in the Chinese Empire comparable to that of diamonds and gold in the west.

As early as 6000 BC Dushan Jade has been mined. Jade was used to create many utilitarian and ceremonial objects, ranging from indoor decorative items to jade burial suits. Jade was considered the "imperial gem".

laughing-jade-buddhaJade has been found in many parts of China. From the region of Khotan in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang regions to other regions such as Lantian, Shaanxi. There, white and greenish nephrite jade can be found in small quarries and as pebbles and boulders in the rivers that flow from the Kuen-Lun mountain range northward into the Takla-Makan desert area.

According to Wikipedia, "River jade collection was concentrated in the Yarkand, the White Jades (Yurungkash) and Black Jade (Karakash) Rivers. From the Kingdom of Khotan, on the southern leg of the Silk Road, yearly tribute payments consisting of the most precious white jade were made to the Chinese Imperial court and there transformed into objets d'art by skilled artisans as jade was considered more valuable than gold or silver. Jade became a favorite material for the crafting of Chinese scholars objects, such as rests for calligraphy brushes, as well as the mouthpieces of some opium pipes, due to the belief that breathing through jade would bestow longevity upon smokers who used such a pipe."

Jadeite, with its bright emerald-green, pink, lavender, orange and brown colours was also only imported from Burma to China after 1800. The vivid green variety, known as Feicui or Kingfisher (feathers) Jade, quickly replaced nephrite as the imperial variety of jade.

In the Imperial Chinese empire, jade has always been regarded with a special significance, comparable with that of gold and diamonds in the West. Chinese artisans have produced some of the finest jade sculptures and figurines ever seen in Chinese jade.

Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC) once stated that there are 11 De (virtue) in jade.

"The wise have likened jade to virtue. For them, 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; the pure and prolonged sound, which it gives forth when one strikes it, represents music. Its color represents loyalty; its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind 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 price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth. To support these comparisons, the Book of Verse says: "When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade."

Here is a list of the various periods going from the Neolithic period, around 7000 to 1600 BC and back up to the present day (in antique terms) to Xuantong of the 1909 to 1911 period.

Period
date
Neolithic
HongShan Culture
LiangZhu Culture
Henan LongShan
circa 7000 - 1600 BC
circa 3500 - 2200 BC
circa 3400 - 2250 BC
circa 2300 - 1700 BC
Shang circa 1600 - 1027 BC
Zhou 7000 - 1600 BC
Western Zhou 1027 - 771 BC
Eastern Zhou
Spring and Autumn period
Warring states period
770 - 256 BC
770 - 476 BC
475 - 221 BC

Imperial Dynasties

Period
date
Qin 221-206 BC
Han
Western (early) Han
Xin dynasty (Wang Mang interregnum)
Eastern (later)
206 BC - AD 220
206 BC - AD 8
AD 9 - 23
Han 25 - 220
Wei-jin period
Three Kingdoms
Wei
Shu
Wu
220 - 265
220 - 265
221 - 263
222 - 280
Jin
Western Jin
Eastern Jin
Sixteen Kingdoms
265 - 419
265 - 317
317 - 420
304 - 439
Six Dynasties (Southern Dynasties and Sui)
Southern and Northern Dynasties
Southern Dynasties
Eastern Jin
Former Song (Liu)
Southern Qi
Southern Liang
Southern Chen
Northern Dynasties
Northern Wei
Eastern Wei
Western Wei
Northern Qi
Northern Zhou
317 - 618


317 - 420
420 - 479
479 - 502
502 - 557
557 - 569

386 - 535
534 - 550
535 - 556
550 - 577
557 - 581

Sui 581 - 618
Tang 618 - 906
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
Five Dynasties
Later Liang
Later Tang
Later Jin
Later Han
Ten Kingdoms

907 - 960
907 - 923
923 - 936
936 - 947
947 - 950
902 - 979
Song
Northern Song
Southern Song
960 - 1279
960 - 1127
1127 - 1279
Liao 907 - 1125
Xixia 71032 - 1227
Jin 1115 - 1234
Yuan 1279 - 1368
Ming
Hongwu
Jianwen
Yongle
Xuande
Zhengtong
Jingtai
Tianshun
Chenghua
Hongzhi
Zhengde
Jiajing
Longqing
Wanli
Tianqi
Chongzhen
1368 - 1644
1368 - 1398
1399 - 1402
1403 - 1425
1426 - 1435
1436 - 1449
1450 - 1456
1457 - 1464
1465 - 1487
1488 - 1505
1506 - 1521
1522 - 1566
1567 - 1572
1573 - 1620
1621 - 1627
1628 - 1644
Qing
Shunzhi
Kangxi
Yongzheng
Qianlong
Jiaqing
Daoguang
Xianfeng
Tongzhi
Guangxu
Xuantong
1644 - 1911
1644 - 1661
1662 - 1722
1723 - 1735
1736 - 1795
1796 - 1820
1821 - 1850
1851 - 1861
1862 - 1874
1875 - 1908
1909 - 1911

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