The importance of jade in eastern culture is on par to that of gold and diamonds in western culture. Revered for its rarity it was for centuries known as the Imperial gem. Known in ancient China as the “Stone of Heaven”, jade is believed to protect the spirit from the negative elements.
Neolithic Period (4000-2100 B.C)
Western Zhou Dynasty
Black Jade, Shaanxi Province, China
The tube-shaped ritual jade object shown above called a cong first appeared in northeast China in the Neolithic period, circa 4000-2100 B.C. Although the precise ceremonial use of the cong is unknown, writers in the late Zhou dynasty described the cong as a symbol of the Earth, pairing it with the ritual disk called a bi, which was thought to symbolize Heaven. The style and the dark, almost a black jades associate it with jade from the Longshan culture in China’s Shaanxi province dated to approximately 2500-1700 B.C.
Ancient wisdom says, if genuine jade is made in the secret gardens of love, it will connect one to qi, the universal energy which guides to the true path of fortune, prosperity, peace and happiness.
|Jade Ritual Object
As symbols of heaven and good luck, bi, like cong, were used by aristocrats as ritual objects when attending audiences with the emperor, religious functions and funerals. Most often found in the tomb of Shang, Zhou, and Han dynasties, they were also used as jewelry.
While many of the ancient querries are long since depleted the finest jade continues to be querried from such places as Burma and Guatemala. Jade although best known for its bright green variation is also found in nature in various coloration’s from black to white, pink to blue. Technically there are two forms of the stone that comprise the family of jade; Nephrite and Jadeite. For the purposes of our exploration, jadeite is the version typically used for jewelry and ornamental objects.
|Contemporary white and black jade bowls
Available at Eastern Classics
|select jade jewelry
Christopher Gaona, Inc. Studio Collection
Available at Eastern Classics
Building on the tradition of bi, desinger Giulio Zecchini has introduced The Jade Collection through his studio Senzanome (www.senzanome.com) which are an extraordinary modern interpretation of the bi for a modern clientele who continue to appreciate the spiritual and aesthetic value of the stone.
|The Jade Coin Collection
Designer: Giuolio Zecchini
Jewelry firms such as Zhayoi Jade (www.zhayoijade.com) have also worked the stone into more western designs with spectacular cabochon cuts. In China, Zhayoi Jade has strategically positioned its brand alongside top global brands. It is reportedly the first Asian company to occupy space in Shanghai’s exclusive Bund 18, sitting alongside Cartier and Zegna.
As the emerging Asian market continues to expand its wealth base look to see more examples of jade being used on the runways of fashion and the world of interiors in new and exciting ways.