Jade

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Jade
Jadestein.jpg
Unworked jade
General
Category Mineral
Crystal system Monoclinic
Identification
ColorVirtually all colors, mostly green
Crystal habit Intergrown grainy or fine fibrous aggregate
Cleavage None
Fracture Splintery
Tenacity Brittle
Mohs scale hardness6-7
Diaphaneity Translucent, opaque
Specific gravity 2.9 - 3.38
Refractive index 1.600 - 1.688
Birefringence 0.020 - 0.027
Pleochroism Absent
Dispersion None
Main jade producing countries Jade gisements.jpg
Main jade producing countries

Jade is an ornamental mineral, mostly known for its green varieties, though it appears naturally in other colors as well, notably yellow and white. Jade can refer to either of two different silicate minerals: nephrite (a silicate of calcium and magnesium in the amphibole group of minerals), or jadeite (a silicate of sodium and aluminium in the pyroxene group of minerals).

Contents

Jade is well known for its use in East Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian art.

Jade also has an important place in Latin America such as Mexico and Guatemala. The use of jade in Mesoamerica for symbolic and ideological ritual was highly influenced by its rarity and value among pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Olmec, the Maya, and the various groups in the Valley of Mexico. Although jade artifacts have been created and prized by many Mesoamerican peoples, the Motagua River valley in Guatemala was previously thought to be the sole source of jadeite in the region.

Etymology

Jade
Chinese name
Chinese
Alternative Chinese name
Chinese 翡翠
Korean name
Hangul , 비취
Hanja 玉, 翡翠
Japanese name
Kanji 玉, 翡翠

The English word jade is derived (via French l'ejade and Latin ilia 'flanks, kidney area') [1] from the Spanish term piedra de ijada (first recorded in 1565) or 'loin stone', from its reputed efficacy in curing ailments of the loins and kidneys. Nephrite is derived from lapis nephriticus, a Latin translation of the Spanish piedra de ijada. [2]

History

East Asia

Prehistoric and historic China

Jade dragon, Western Han Dynasty (202 BC - 9 AD) Han jade dragen.JPG
Jade dragon, Western Han Dynasty (202 BC  9 AD)

During Neolithic times, the key known sources of nephrite jade in China for utilitarian and ceremonial jade items were the now-depleted deposits in the Ningshao area in the Yangtze River Delta (Liangzhu culture 3400–2250 BC) and in an area of the Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia (Hongshan culture 4700–2200 BC). [3] Dushan Jade was being mined as early as 6000 BC. In the Yin Ruins of the Shang Dynasty (1600 to 1050 BC) in Anyang, Dushan Jade ornaments were unearthed in the tomb of the Shang kings.

Jade was considered to be the "imperial gem" and was used to create many utilitarian and ceremonial objects, from indoor decorative items to jade burial suits. From the earliest Chinese dynasties to the present, the jade deposits most used were not only those of Khotan in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang but other parts of China as well, such as Lantian, Shaanxi. There, white and greenish nephrite jade is found in small quarries and as pebbles and boulders in the rivers flowing from the Kuen-Lun mountain range eastward into the Takla-Makan desert area. The river jade collection is concentrated in the Yarkand, the White Jade (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 worked into objets d'art by skilled artisans as jade had a status-value exceeding that of gold or silver. Jade became a favourite 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. [4]

Jadeite, with its bright emerald-green, pink, lavender, orange and brown colours was imported from Burma to China only after about 1800. The vivid green variety became known as Feicui (翡翠) or Kingfisher (feathers) Jade. It quickly became almost as popular as nephrite and a favorite of Qing Dynasty's nouveau riche, while scholars still had strong attachment to nephrite (white jade, or Khotan), which they deemed to be the symbol of a nobleman.

In the history of the art of the Chinese empire, jade has had a special significance, comparable with that of gold and diamonds in the West. [5] Jade was used for the finest objects and cult figures, and for grave furnishings for high-ranking members of the imperial family. [5] Due to that significance and the rising middle class in China, in 2010 the finest jade when found in nuggets of "mutton fat" jade – so-named for its marbled white consistency – could sell for $3,000 an ounce, a tenfold increase from a decade previously. [6]

The Chinese character 玉 [7] (yù) is used to denote the several types of stone known in English as "jade" (e.g. 玉器, jadewares), such as jadeite (硬玉, 'hard jade', another name for 翡翠) and nephrite (軟玉, 'soft jade'). But because of the value added culturally to jades throughout Chinese history, the word has also come to refer more generally to precious or ornamental stones, [8] and is very common in more symbolic usage as in phrases like 拋磚引玉/抛砖引玉 (lit. "casting a brick (i.e. the speaker's own words) to draw a jade (i.e. pearls of wisdom from the other party)"), 玉容 (a beautiful face; "jade countenance"), and 玉立 (slim and graceful; "jade standing upright"). The character has a similar range of meanings when appearing as a radical as parts of other characters.

Prehistoric and historic Japan

Jade in Japan was used for jade bracelets. It was a symbol of wealth and power. Leaders also used jade in rituals. It is the national stone of Japan.

Prehistoric and historic Korea

Golden crown with jade pendants from Silla, fifth or sixth century AD, in the National Museum of Korea. Korea-Silla kingdom-Gold crown from Hwangnam Daechong-No.191-01D.jpg
Golden crown with jade pendants from Silla, fifth or sixth century AD, in the National Museum of Korea.

The use of jade and other greenstone was a long-term tradition in Korea (c. 850 BC – AD 668). Jade is found in small numbers of pit-houses and burials. The craft production of small comma-shaped and tubular "jades" using materials such as jade, microcline, jasper, etc., in southern Korea originates from the Middle Mumun Pottery Period (c. 850–550 BC). [9] Comma-shaped jades are found on some of the gold crowns of Silla royalty (c. 300/400–668 AD) and sumptuous elite burials of the Korean Three Kingdoms. After the state of Silla united the Korean Peninsula in 668, the widespread popularisation of death rituals related to Buddhism resulted in the decline of the use of jade in burials as prestige mortuary goods.

South Asia

India

Dagger with jade hilt, India, 17th-18th century. Louvre Dagger India Louvre MR13434.jpg
Dagger with jade hilt, India, 17th–18th century. Louvre

The Jain temple of Kolanpak in the Nalgonda district, Telangana, India is home to a 5-foot (1.5 m) high sculpture of Mahavira that is carved entirely out of jade. India is also noted for its craftsman tradition of using large amounts of green serpentine or false jade obtained primarily from Afghanistan in order to fashion jewellery and ornamental items such as sword hilts and dagger handles. [10]

The Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad has a wide range of jade hilted daggers, mostly owned by the former Sultans of Hyderabad.

Southeast Asia

Today, it is estimated that Myanmar is the origin of upwards of 70% of the world's supply of high-quality jadeite. Most of the jadeite mined in Myanmar is not cut for use in Myanmar, instead being transported to other nations, primarily in Asia, for use in jewelry and other products. The jadeite deposits found in Kachinland, in Myanmar's northern regions is the highest quality jadeite in the world, considered precious by sources in China going as far back as the 10th century.

Sa Huynh white jade lingling-o double-headed pendant from Vietnam Bicephalous pendant (Jade), Artefacts of Phu Hoa site(Dong Nai province) 01.jpg
Sa Huỳnh white jade lingling-o double-headed pendant from Vietnam

Jadeite in Myanmar is primarily found in the "Jade Tract" located in Lonkin Township in Kachin State in northern Myanmar which encompasses the alluvial region of the Uyu River between the 25th and 26th parallels. Present-day extraction of jade in this region occurs at the Phakant-gyi, Maw Se Za, Tin Tin, and Khansee mines. Khansee is also the only mine that produces Maw Sit Sit, a type of jade. Mines at Tawmao and Hweka are mostly exhausted. From 1964 to 1981, mining was exclusively an enterprise of the Myanmar government. In 1981, 1985, and 1995, the Gemstone laws were modified to allow increasing private enterprise. In addition to this region, there are also notable mines in the neighboring Sagaing District, near the towns of Nasibon and Natmaw and Hkamti. Sagaing is a district in Myanmar proper, not a part of the ethic Kachin State.

Archaeologists have discovered two forms of jade artifacts that can be found across Taiwan in East Asia through the Philippines, East Malaysia, central and southern Vietnam, and even extending to eastern Cambodia and peninsular Thailand. These two forms are the lingling-o penannular earring with three pointed circumferential projections and the double animal-headed ear pendant. The ornaments are very similar in size and range from about 30–35 mm in diameter. Furthermore, radiocarbon dates have dated these artifacts in Southeast Asia from around 500 BC to 500 AD. [11] Electron probe microanalysis shows that the raw material of these two types of artifacts was nephrite jade from Taiwan called Fengtian nephrite (traditional Chinese :豐田玉; simplified Chinese :丰田玉; pinyin :Fēngtián Yù). Evidence recovered from multiple sites from Taiwan, the Philippines, and the mainland Southeast Asia suggests that Taiwan was the main source of the exchange of this kind of jade. During the Iron Age of Southeast Asia, there may have been skilled craftsmen traveling from Taiwan to Southeast Asia along the coastline of the South China Sea, making jade ornaments for local inhabitants. [11]

Others

Māori

Maori greenstone double-headed pendant (pekapeka) from New Zealand Ear pendant (peka peka), Maori people, Honolulu Museum of Art, 3351.JPG
Māori greenstone double-headed pendant ( pekapeka ) from New Zealand
Maori hei matau jade pendant Pounamu 3.jpg
Māori hei matau jade pendant

Nephrite jade in New Zealand is known as pounamu in the Māori language (often called "greenstone" in New Zealand English), and plays an important role in Māori culture. It is considered a taonga , or treasure, and therefore protected under the Treaty of Waitangi, and the exploitation of it is restricted and closely monitored. It is found only in the South Island of New Zealand, known as Te Wai Pounamu in Māori—"The [land of] Greenstone Water", or Te Wahi Pounamu—"The Place of Greenstone".

Pounamu taonga increase in mana (prestige) as they pass from one generation to another. The most prized taonga are those with known histories going back many generations. These are believed to have their own mana and were often given as gifts to seal important agreements.

Tools, weapons and ornaments were made of it; in particular adzes, the 'mere' (short club), and the hei-tiki (neck pendant). Nephrite jewellery of Maori design is widely popular with locals and tourists, although some of the jade used for these is now imported from British Columbia and elsewhere. [12]

Pounamu taonga include tools such as toki (adzes), whao (chisels), whao whakakōka (gouges), ripi pounamu (knives), scrapers, awls, hammer stones, and drill points. Hunting tools include matau (fishing hooks) and lures, spear points, and kākā poria (leg rings for fastening captive birds); weapons such as mere (short handled clubs); and ornaments such as pendants (hei-tiki, hei matau and pekapeka), ear pendants (kuru and kapeu), and cloak pins. [13] [14] Functional pounamu tools were widely worn for both practical and ornamental reasons, and continued to be worn as purely ornamental pendants (hei kakï) even after they were no longer used as tools. [15]

Mesoamerica

Jadeite pectoral from the Mayan Classic period (195 mm or 7.7 in high) Mayan Jade.jpg
Jadeite pectoral from the Mayan Classic period (195 mm or 7.7 in high)

Jade was a rare and valued material in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The only source from which the various indigenous cultures, such as the Olmec and Maya, could obtain jade was located in the Motagua River valley in Guatemala.[ citation needed ] Jade was largely an elite good, and was usually carved in various ways, whether serving as a medium upon which hieroglyphs were inscribed, or shaped into symbolic figurines. Generally, the material was highly symbolic, and it was often employed in the performance of ideological practices and rituals.

Canada

Jade was first identified in Canada by Chinese settlers in 1886 in British Columbia.[ citation needed ] At this time jade was considered worthless because they were searching for gold.[ citation needed ] Jade was not commercialized in Canada until the 1970s. The mining business Loex James Ltd., which was started by two Californians, began commercial mining of Canadian jade in 1972. [16]

Mining is done from large boulders that contain bountiful deposits of jade. Jade is exposed using diamond-tipped core drills in order to extract samples. This is done to ensure that the jade meets requirements. Hydraulic spreaders are then inserted into cleavage points in the rock so that the jade can be broken away. Once the boulders are removed and the jade is accessible, it is broken down into more manageable 10-tonne pieces using water-cooled diamond saws. The jade is then loaded onto trucks and transported to the proper storage facilities. [17]

Russia

Russia imported jade from China for a long time, but in the 1860s its own jade deposits were found in Siberia. Today, the main deposits of jade are located in Eastern Siberia, but jade is also extracted in the Polar Urals and in the Krasnoyarsk territory (Kantegirskoye and Kurtushibinskoye deposits). Russian raw jade reserves are estimated at 336 tons. [18] Russian jade culture is closely connected with such jewellery production as Faberge, whose workshops combined the green stone with gold, diamonds, emeralds, and rubies.

The mineral

Nephrite and jadeite

Jade on display in Jade City, British Columbia, Canada Jade 001.jpg
Jade on display in Jade City, British Columbia, Canada

It was not until 1863 that French mineralogist Alexis Damour determined that what was referred to as "jade" could in fact be one of two different minerals, either nephrite or jadeite. [19]

Nephrite consists of a microcrystalline interlocking fibrous matrix of the calcium, magnesium-iron rich amphibole mineral series tremolite (calcium-magnesium)-ferroactinolite (calcium-magnesium-iron). The middle member of this series with an intermediate composition is called actinolite (the silky fibrous mineral form is one form of asbestos). The higher the iron content, the greener the colour. Tremolite occurs in metamorphosed dolomitic limestones and Actinolite in metamorphic greenschists/glaucophane schists.

Jadeite is a sodium- and aluminium-rich pyroxene. The more precious kind of jade, this is a microcrystalline interlocking growth of crystals (not a fibrous matrix as nephrite is.) It only occurs in metamorphic rocks.

Both nephrite and jadeite were used from prehistoric periods for hardstone carving. Jadeite has about the same hardness (between 6.0 and 7.0 Mohs hardness) as quartz, while nephrite is slightly softer (6.0 to 6.5) and so can be worked with quartz or garnet sand, and polished with bamboo or even ground jade.[ citation needed ] However nephrite is tougher and more resistant to breakage. Among the earliest known jade artifacts excavated from prehistoric sites are simple ornaments with bead, button, and tubular shapes. [20] Additionally, jade was used for adze heads, knives, and other weapons, which can be delicately shaped.

As metal-working technologies became available, the beauty of jade made it valuable for ornaments and decorative objects.

Unusual varieties

Jade rock inspection with a portable UV LED torch in Mandalay Jade Market, Myanmar. MandalayJadeInspection.jpg
Jade rock inspection with a portable UV LED torch in Mandalay Jade Market, Myanmar.

Nephrite can be found in a creamy white form (known in China as "mutton fat" jade) as well as in a variety of light green colours, whereas jadeite shows more colour variations, including blue, brown, red, black, dark green, lavender and white. [21] Of the two, jadeite is rarer, documented in fewer than 12 places worldwide. Translucent emerald-green jadeite is the most prized variety, both historically and today. As "quetzal" jade, bright green jadeite from Guatemala was treasured by Mesoamerican cultures, and as "kingfisher" jade, vivid green rocks from Burma became the preferred stone of post-1800 Chinese imperial scholars and rulers. Burma (Myanmar) and Guatemala are the principal sources of modern gem jadeite. In the area of Mogaung in the Myitkyina District of Upper Burma, jadeite formed a layer in the dark-green serpentine, and has been quarried and exported for well over a hundred years. [10] Canada provides the major share of modern lapidary nephrite.

Enhancement

Jade may be enhanced (sometimes called "stabilized"). Some merchants will refer to these as grades, but degree of enhancement is different from colour and texture quality. In other words, Type A jadeite is not enhanced but can have poor colour and texture. There are three main methods of enhancement, sometimes referred to as the ABC Treatment System: [22]

Industry

Myanmar

The jade trade in Myanmar consists of the mining, distribution, and manufacture of jadeite- a variety of jade- in the nation of Myanmar (Burma). The jadeite deposits found in Myanmar's northern regions are the source of the highest quality jadeite in the world, noted by sources in China going as far back as the 10th century. Chinese culture places significant weight on the meaning of jade; as their influence has grown in Myanmar, so has the jade industry and the practice of exporting the precious mineral.

Myanmar produces upward of 70 percent of the world's supply of high-quality jadeite. [23] [24] Most of the Myanmar's jadeite is exported to other nations, primarily Asian, for use in jewellery, art, and ornaments. The majority of the production is carried out by Myanmar Gem Enterprise (MGE), a state-owned venture which has enough liquid assets to run itself for 172 years. [25]

See also

Related Research Articles

Jewellery Form of personal adornment

Jewellery or jewelry consists of decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western perspective, the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal such as gold often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewellery, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used.

Actinolite

Actinolite is an amphibole silicate mineral with the chemical formula Ca2(Mg4.5-2.5Fe2+0.5-2.5)Si8O22(OH)2.

Hei-tiki ornamental pendant of the Māori of New Zealand

The hei-tiki is an ornamental pendant of the Māori of New Zealand. Hei-tiki are usually made of pounamu (greenstone), and are considered a taonga (treasure) by Māori. They are commonly called tiki by New Zealanders, a term that originally refers to large human figures carved in wood and to the small wooden carvings used to mark sacred places.

Jadeite Pyroxene mineral

Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral with composition NaAlSi2O6. It is monoclinic. It has a Mohs hardness of about 6.5 to 7.0 depending on the composition. The mineral is dense, with a specific gravity of about 3.4.

Nephrite Variety of jade

Nephrite is a variety of the calcium, magnesium, and iron-rich amphibole minerals tremolite or actinolite (aggregates of which also make up one form of asbestos). The chemical formula for nephrite is Ca2(Mg, Fe)5Si8O22(OH)2. It is one of two different mineral species called jade. The other mineral species known as jade is jadeite, which is a variety of pyroxene. While nephrite jade possesses mainly grays and greens (and occasionally yellows, browns or whites), jadeite jade, which is rarer, can also contain blacks, reds, pinks and violets. Nephrite jade is an ornamental stone used in carvings, beads, or cabochon cut gemstones. Nephrite is also the official state mineral of Wyoming.

Mere (weapon)

The mere is a type of short, broad-bladed weapon in the shape of an enlarged tear drop. It was used to strike/jab an opponent in the body or the head, usually made from nephrite jade. A mere is one of the traditional, hand to hand, one-handed weapons of the indigenous Māori of New Zealand, and a symbol of chieftainship.

Bowenite

Bowenite is a hard, compact variety of the serpentinite species antigorite, (Mg3(OH)O4Si2O5). Classed as semi-precious gemstone it has been used for tools, weapons and jewellery by the Māori in New Zealand, and for jewellery by Fabergé. Deposits are found in several places around the world including Afghanistan, China, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. It typically ranges in colour from dark green to light olive green, and in shades approaching yellow. Bowenite was named by James D. Dana in 1850 after George T. Bowen, who analyzed it in 1822.

Jade use in Mesoamerica

The use of jade in Mesoamerica for symbolic and ideological ritual was highly influenced by its rarity and value among pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Olmec, the Maya, and the various groups in the Valley of Mexico. Although jade artifacts have been created and prized by many Mesoamerican peoples, the Motagua River valley in Guatemala was previously thought to be the sole source of jadeite in the region.

Costa Rican jade tradition

Jadeite is presumed one of the most precious materials of Pre-Columbian Costa Rica. It, along with other similar-looking greenstones were cherished and worked for years. Jadeite was used to decorate the body and was presumably a symbol of power.

Chinese jade

Chinese jade refers to the jade mined or carved in China from the Neolithic onward. It is the primary hardstone of Chinese sculpture. Although deep and bright green jadeite is better known in Europe, for most of China's history, jade has come in a variety of colors and white "mutton-fat" nephrite was the most highly praised and prized. Native sources in Henan and along the Yangtze were exploited since prehistoric times and have largely been exhausted; most Chinese jade today is extracted from the northwestern province of Xinjiang.

Sierra de las Minas

Sierra de las Minas is a mountain range in eastern Guatemala, extending 130 km west of the Lake Izabal. It is 15–30 km wide and bordered by the valleys of the rivers Polochic in the north and the Motagua in the south. Its western border is marked by the Salamá River valley which separates it from the Chuacús mountain range. The highest peak is Cerro Raxón at 3,015 m. The Sierra's rich deposits of jade and marble have been mined throughout the past centuries. These small scale mining activities also explain the name of the mountain range.

Greenstone (archaeology)

Greenstone is a common generic term for valuable, green-hued minerals and metamorphosed igneous rocks and stones which early cultures used in the fashioning of hardstone carvings such as jewelry, statuettes, ritual tools, and various other artifacts. Greenstone artifacts may be made of greenschist, chlorastrolite, serpentine, omphacite, chrysoprase, olivine, nephrite, chloromelanite among other green-hued minerals. The term also includes jade and jadeite, although these are perhaps more frequently identified by these latter terms. The greenish hue of these rocks generally derives from the presence of minerals such as chlorite, hornblende, or epidote.

Hardstone carving Artistic carving of semi-precious stones or gems

Hardstone carving is a general term in art history and archaeology for the artistic carving of predominantly semi-precious stones, such as jade, rock crystal, agate, onyx, jasper, serpentinite, or carnelian, and for an object made in this way. Normally the objects are small, and the category overlaps with both jewellery and sculpture. Hardstone carving is sometimes referred to by the Italian term pietre dure; however, pietra dura is the common term used for stone inlay work, which causes some confusion.

Mining is an important industry in Pakistan. Pakistan has deposits of several minerals including coal, copper, gold, chromite, mineral salt, bauxite and several other minerals. There are also a variety of precious and semi-precious minerals that are also mined. These include peridot, aquamarine, topaz, ruby, emerald, rare-earth minerals bastnaesite and xenotime, sphene, tourmaline, and many varieties and types of quartz .

The jade trade in Myanmar consists of the mining, distribution, and manufacture of jadeite- a variety of jade- in the nation of Myanmar (Burma). The jadeite deposits found in Myanmar's northern regions are the source of the highest quality jadeite in the world, noted by sources in China going as far back as the 10th century. Chinese culture places significant weight on the meaning of jade; as their influence has grown in Myanmar, so has the jade industry and the practice of exporting the precious mineral.

Philippine jade culture

Philippine jade artifacts, made from white and green nephrite and dating as far back as 2000–1500 BC, have been discovered at a number of archeological excavations in the Philippines since the 1930s. The artifacts have been both tools like chisels, and ornaments such as lingling-o earrings, bracelets and beads.

<i>Huang</i> (jade)

A huang (璜) is a Chinese arc-shaped jade artifact that was used as a pendant.

Langgan 琅玕 is the ancient Chinese name of a gemstone which remains an enigma in the history of mineralogy; it has been identified, variously, as blue-green malachite, blue coral, white coral, whitish chalcedony, red spinel, and red jade. It is also the name of a mythological langgan tree of immortality found in the western paradise of Kunlun Mountain, and the name of the classic waidan alchemical elixir of immortality langgan huadan 琅玕華丹 "Elixir Efflorescence of Langgan".

<i>Lingling-o</i>

Lingling-o or ling-ling-o, is a type of penannular or double-headed pendant or amulet that has been associated with various late Neolithic to late Iron Age Austronesian cultures. Most lingling-o were made in jade workshops in the Philippines, and to a lesser extent in the Sa Huỳnh culture of Vietnam, although the raw jade was mostly sourced from Taiwan.

Pounamu Hard, green minerals in New Zealand culture

Pounamu or greenstone are terms for several types of hard and durable stone found in southern New Zealand. They are highly valued in New Zealand, and carvings made from pounamu play an important role in Māori culture.

References

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Further reading