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Chinese Jade Nephrite

In China is Nephrite, no jadeite, this mineral come from Myanmar. It is used for jewelry and other items since thousands of years. Over a long period of time people thought a oriental jade mine, actually nephrite, is only in China, which was wrong. The real good stuff was and is jadeite, this is mined as Burmese jadeite, it is smuggled over the border and then it was Chinese jade. 

To ancient Chinese, nephrite was a revered stone which commands its importance in their cosmology and rituals. They believed that the world was surrounded by water, and the breath or influence of nature affect both living and dead. The fate of man is determined by cosmological influences.

They developed a sort of quasi-scientific system instructing men where and how to build dwellings, graves and temples so that the living, the dead and the gods be properly located under the auspicious influence of nature.

Today, these superstitions are of course losing ground, and yet the mineral is still in increasing demand not only by the Chinese but also by people the world over. Two reasons seem to explain it: First, exquisite dresses and elaborate jewellery are coming back into fashion in both women and men's worlds.

jade arrowheads
Jade arrowheads, Chinese jade nephrite.

 

Chinese jade

was, since Neolithic times manufactured into daggers, axes, spearheads, arrowheads, and every day use items found at excavations from ancient China. Since those have been from Shang, Chou and Han period its a good evidence for a 

Neolithic Chinese jade dagger
Neolithic Chinese jade dagger

long use timeframe. China and Burma or Myanmar is very deeply connected in terms of the green stones. Chinese merchants did brisk business since hundreds of years over the southern border between Yunnan and Burma. In 1857 when King Mindon of Burma moved the capital from Amarapura to Mandalay Chinese jade merchants also moved and started a cutting and carving cottage industry at Mandalay.

At 1861 a merchant from Canton visited Mandalay and bought all jadeite stones and items available in town to take them back to China. He sold them all after arrival and became instantly a very rich man. The news spread and people from Yunnan came down to Mandalay and applied for a royal permit to mine for oriental jade, they took it back to Yunnan and suddenly it was Chinese jade. There was a rush in Mogaung, upper Burma, many of the would be miners died of malaria, or were looted and killed by gangsters at the trade route.

Jadeite Stones
Jadeite Stones
Chinese jade mine
Raw jade Xiuyan mine, Oriental Jade.

Jade mine

A typical jade mining area is Phar Kant in north west Myanmar the jade mine and mines mines are at Myitkyina District of Kachin State not far off from India, that's about one thousand kilometers north of Yangon. Phar Kant is Shan language and means "the place where the wall is cut off". The jadeite mining area is around 200 sqkm. Before oriental jade was found the area was totally empty of people now its heavy populated with Myanmar people and Chinese who try to make quick cash with oriental jade. Plenty of Myanmar companies paid quite some money for the mining licenses, most area is already denuded, hills are dug into and at every possible place, bulldozers are moving and drilling is done with

 

heavy equipment to find the valuable stones. Since Chinese people across the border prosper the jade rush is on, prices rise and fortunes are made, its somehow like the gold rush in the West US. The main share on the mining business have 5 private companies in cooperation with the state.

Jade Mining

Chinese jade or nephrite mines are plenty in Qiemo, Xinjiang at the southeast end of the Tarim Basin, around the Kunlun Mountains and near to the Taklimakan Desert. There still are plenty of Nephrite resources and they are traded at the jade bazaar. Traders buy and sell the stones by kilo, this is more or less raw material at wholesale. In recent years China has changed some laws to allow more exploration for mineral resources in the country which was under strict control of the state. The current area for Chinese jade exploration on minerals is around 6000 sqkm. Known reserves are at around 10 locations, at Kesu, nephrite or Chinese jade is found and reserves are estimated at around 2 million tons. In 1995 a nephrite green stone with 1500 kilograms was found, part of this mined minerals are exported to various countries in Asia. This is Qiemo area and most of the mines are in the Altun Mountain stretching over 100 km. Mining is done at around 3,500 meters above sea level, this are the Hotan jade mines which produce around 70% of the mineral in Xinjiang.

Hotan jade mines
Hotan jade mines
Hotan jade mines
Chinese Jade Mine
Nephrite
Nephrite
Nephrite

is the real old true Chinese jade, the colors are not as good as jadeite has and it is slightly softer. Today nephrite comes in cabochon cut, round beads used in necklaces or as carvings, shades tend to be darker and some are real dark which leads to black jade.

A Oriental jade mine in Myanmar has deposits in

Jade Boulder
Chinese jade Nephrite Boulder

jadeite only. Most very old pieces of are nephrite, today this is mined in many countries, including the US and New Zealand. Since it is much more abundant than jadeite its much less expensive and that makes it very popular.

Nephrite is

used since several thousands of years, over time people in China became real artists in carving it. Popular are for jewelry and sculptures in particular for Jade Buddha. All quality gem today is jadeite when the item has a real brilliant green color, excellent texture and a good amount of translucency prices are very high it is imperial jade, but people are buying.

Jade Cabochons
Chinese Jade cabochons, China jadeite
 


Fair and good rains are the main elements of life and to get them regularly they propitiated gods and goddesses in Heaven, Earth, and the Four Points of the Universe. Various colors of jade were associated with the colors of Heaven, Earth, East, West, North and South. Hence six objects were specially carved to pay homage to these six cosmological Deities. They are: (1) round tablet "pi" of bluish color to worship Heaven (the sky is blue), (2) yellow (or brownish) tube "ts'ung" to worship Earth (the earth is either yellow or brownish), (3) green tablet of "kuei" to worship the East, (4) white tablet in the shape of tiger "hu" to worship the West, (5) red tablet "chang" to worship the South, and (6) black of semicircular shape to worship the North. The Four Points of the Universe are guarded by animal symbols.

The ancient Chinese regarded this mineral

important because they believed that Great Mother Goddess created it for the benefit of mankind. So it is the panacea, the elixir of life, preserving for things material, concentrate of ethical and spiritual values, the most revered stone of religious and ritual importance and symbol of luck and social status.

Comparatively it is cheaper for making ornaments. Besides its hardness and attractive colors offer a wide range of choices for those who have the flair for good jewellery. Secondly, inflation of money on a global scale since the latter part of the present century (21th century) has driven people crazy looking for ways and means of sustaining the value of their cash. Gold is hoarded, expensive diamonds are stocked, land and houses are bought up. But only the rich could afford to take such precautionary measures. For middle class people investing their money in not too-expensive things such as gems, pearls, and objects d'art and antiques is the sure way of hedging their savings against inflation.
Text in the blue box is from Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt

 
     

Nephrite and Silver Necklace

 

 



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