The Chinese word "YU" for Jade is a collective name for several kinds of stone, as Jadeit, Nephrit, Serpentin and Aventurin, for which the last two kinds nowadays not described any more for Jade.
The name "YU" is quite extensive and means translated: "noble", "pure", "treasure" "jewel", or in general, a stone, which is valied to be polished".
Jade/Jadeit, (Mohs)-hardness 6-6,5, belongs to the group of Augite (Greek brightness) or also called Pyroxene (Greek fire). Jade is counted as one of the precious stones.
Described as "Jade", is also Nephrit, (Mohs)-hardness 5,5-6, which is a "Hornblende" variation. Very often it will be used instead of Jade, because it is more easily to work.
The primary colour of the Jade is colourless, however, mostly whitish -- milky, non-transparent (so-called Mutton Fat Jade).
As most minerals, the large colour variety of Jade arises from different mineralogical contamination:
For example, Chrome contamination will give the Jade a beautiful emerald green (Emerald Jade), with Iron compounds it is brown, Manganese contamination will get violet colours and a Calzium contamination lets to a lot of different colours as white, pale greenly, red, brown and sometimes also blue.
Because of his colour variety, hardness, smoothness and his durability, it got very esteemed for the artists of the old time, yes, even until our time, for the production of all sorts of use objects, like jewellery and even musical instruments.
Today Fakes are offered on the market from the much more softer Serpentin, a magnesium silicate with (Mohs)-hardness 3-4. The expensive emerald green Jade is produced by artificial colouring of white Jade. Please note, that this also happened in prehistoric times. One goes even so far to sell pieces as Jade, produced from (Lead) crystal glass.
Feminine Figur made of white Jade.
(220 - 586 AD)
One thought the Jade would bring rain, kept demons and poisonous animals away, would bring honour, success, and at apart set reeds got the victory and quenched the thirst. Furthermore It should guarantee long life, if it was cut as a stork or a bat.
Jade Bangles are used to this day, since one still thinks, that these protect themselves from rheumatism.
Jade Cups were used for serving the meal since one was of the opinion that the power of the Jade would transfer into the meal. A beverage produced from Jade Powder should work against cold and hunger and should be blood-cleansing.
During her conferences and negotiations merchants and court official held Jade Objects in their hands to attain strength management and wisdom.
Even if Jade couldn't prevent the death, so one thought, that Jade anyway could preserve the body. Therefore had Jade, particularly Bi-Disks, a solid place at the funeral ceremonies.
Going out from neolithic periods, Bi-Disks were lay down into the graves of the dead.
The summary of old ritual texts has recognized, that the Bi-Disk as sky symbol, should accompany the dead into the sky, in which these rites were only left for the aristocratic class.
A dead man, all body openings got closed with Jade Pieces. Different Bi-Disks were placed in the back, the thoracic region, at the head and bottom-end and to the right and to the left of the dead person.
A black Bi-Disk which was used for dead man rituals.
A BLACK Jade Bi-Disk, dating to
Ming Dynasty, 1368 - 1644 AD
In principle, the Bi-Disk is a carved, mostly a round Jade Disk, with one middle hole of most various size. It will be used as status symbol, for ritual and/or symbolic purposes. The oldest pieces are dating from the neolithic period (HongShan- and LiangZhu cultures) and are only scanty or not decorated at all. They have on both sides smooth surfaces only, (as of 6000 year and younger).
Later pieces are then decorated extremely with ornaments, waves, characters and various mythical animals. Although not proved, symbolize these disks the sun and/or the sky and be signs of eternal life (circle without beginning and without end).
Since the neolithic times, the Hermadu culture, about 6000 years BC, until today, the Jade is processed and used continuously by the chineses. The temporal classification of the Bi-Disks is quite difficult, because the associated field of these artifacts is still quite incompletely investigated.
Since Bi-Disks were found in grave plants of different dynasties it is possible to distinguish these often according the carved pattern and motives.
For example the Warring States, 480-249 BC, the Han Dynasties 202 BC 220 AD, the Sui Dynasties 589-618 AD and the Tang Dynasties 618-907 AD, which all have special carvings and pattern.
Neolithic Carving on a Bi-Disk
Although the Jade was estimated in many cultures on earth, China is the only country in which the Jade has reached a so high place of value.
Jade and/or Jadeit Deposit and processing places are known from Burma, Central America, Brazil, Canada, Japan, India, Sibieria, Finland, Tanzania and other countries.
Chinese Bi-Disks which were produced until the Shang period (1300-1030 AD) have parallels of similar rings/disks in the Siberian Baikal region. Here also a connection to China could be established, what Jade deliveries from Siberia to China concerns.
More mentioning possible deposit places are HONAN or SHANSI; however at present no finding datas are existing from this area.
From examinations it follows, that presumable also Jade from 200 to 39 B.C. from SINKIANK was imported.
KHOTAN in the western Central Asia was already a supplier of Jade, of the Middle Ages until today. Old Russian sources go back however much further, then to process Jade/Nephrit slowly with grinding powders, was not only known in the old China, but were practised much earlier in the range of the Baikals and the Ural area. The processing was much more coarser and however didn't reach the quality and beauty of the Chinese work.
Neolithic Carving on a Bi-Disk
Size of Bi-Disks:
The outside diameter and the complete size of a Bi-Disk vary till about 1 cm, up to about 1 m, but it likes to give surely even larger Bi-Disks. The average size lies about 25-30 cm.
We just remind, that only the two minerals Nephrit and Jadeit are appreciated internationally as true Jade. Due to the extreme hardness it is very time expensive and exhausting to process these materials. This has has not changed over all the millenniums until present time, true Jade hardly can be scratched even with a steel needle.
At the purchase of Jade one should consider that many stones like Agate, Rock Crystal, Amethyst, Quartz, Alabaster or other stones than Jade in China are sold for Jade, although the international names don't correspond to this. None of these stones reaches however the hardness of true Jade. If one buys a Jade art work, one shouldn't respect the processing only but also the material. The most valuable works are not the monochrome stones but the work of multi-coloured Jade.
To produce an art object of Jade, the artist proceeds as follows:
1.) The corresponding stone, for the object intended for this purpose, gets selected. For that the size, form, granulation, colour and the brightness are taken into consideration for the object to be manufactured.
2.) The form will be drawn on the stone.
3.) With a special tool and diamond paste the desired form is worked out, at this one follows the colours of the stone to consider it into the workpiece.
4.) Then the workpiece is polished until the desired brightness is reached. For polishing one used another stone pressing it against the working piece with polishing paste.
We remember, many different operations like sawing, drilling and polishing are required to produce a true Jade Art Carving.
Before one purchases a Jade work, one should consider and imagine which time expensive efforts are required, to produce a beautiful work of Jade Art!
Legality of artifacts:
All artefacts are legally acquired, mostly from collections of old collectors who have mostly collected their artifacts around the turn of the century.
For most foreign artefacts corresponding import papers are available.
All artefacts are guaranteed of prehistoric or ethnologic origin, and after best knowledge and conscience don't date from questionable sources, from which He-Artefakte dissociated themselves.
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