Jade (nephrite) was considered the most precious stone in ancient China and symbolized purity and moral integrity. Prized for its durability and magical qualities, the stone was painstakingly carved and polished into all types of objects, from jewelry to desk ornaments. During the first Chinese dynasties (c.) It is no coincidence that the Chinese character Yu, which designates jade (and, more generally, beauty and preciousness) is very similar to the character Wang, which refers to the king. That's why Chinese emperors used ritual objects in jade.
Chinese culture considers jade to be a lucky stone. For them, it is known as “The Stone of Heaven”. Jadeite is so precious that there is a saying that goes: “Gold is valuable, while jade is priceless. The best jade carving of the Qing Dynasty is often attributed to the reign of Qianlong, but carved jade is difficult to date, and since 1950 some high-quality pieces of the Qianlong style have been manufactured at the Beijing Craft Research Institute.
Jade dragon pendant from the Warring States period (403 BC 221 BC) National Museum of China (Photo by Dongmaiying). Later, in the highly developed Han Dynasty (202 BC). C., 220 AD), emperors and nobles wore jade clothing after their departure, which consisted of jade tablets sewn with gold, silver or copper threads, depending on their hierarchies. In addition to the seal, the jade belt (in Chinese Yu Dai) had been an important representative of a person's social status from the Sui Dynasty (581-61) to the Ming Dynasty (1368-164), when only emperors and highest-ranking officials could wear jade belts.
In 1863, the French mineralogist Alexis Damour analyzed the chemical composition of a Burmese jade (extracted only since the end of the 18th century) and a Chinese jade carving, and discovered their differences. As the technique of jade carving had changed little over the interval, it is difficult to distinguish them from authentic archaic jades, except for a somewhat playful elegance and a tendency to combine shapes and decorations that are not found together in old pieces. The beautiful color of jade made it a mysterious stone for the Chinese in ancient times, so jade objects were popular as sacrificial vessels and were often buried with the dead. Also present at this time, in the Liangzhu culture and, in the province of Shandong, in the Longshan culture, are the Gui and Zhang ceremonial knives and axes, as well as an increasing variety of pendants, necklaces and ornamental jade bracelets (often in the shape of an animal), together with the important decorative appearance of masks; all of these forms link Neolithic jades with those of the later Shang period.