(Clearwisdom.net) The Chinese and the western world view jade differently. In western mineralogy and petrology, rocks and minerals are studied based on physics and chemistry. Scientists research their ingredients and how they were formed. They are classified and appraised based on their investigations. However, the ancient Chinese studied rocks and minerals with a connection with the realm of thoughts.

There is an ancient Chinese phrase: "A noble man never leaves his jade behind without a reason". Confucius told us, "A noble man has the same characteristics as jade." The purpose of wearing jade is to constantly remind himself to keep his moral values and traits like jade's. Confucianism believes a noble man should show respectful and submissive behavior but be tenacious in his heart. A noble man should show great tolerance to others but be strict with himself; a noble man should not show off his excellence but instead keep it within himself. Jade's characteristics are very similar to a noble man's. So, Chinese use and wear jade for moral and spiritual reasons.

Chinese classify jade based on its softness, density, and tenacity, not its ingredients. The color is also critical. Only jade with monochromatic colors is classified as high grade. A noble man with a righteous mind is the essence of Chinese moral values and what Chinese people pursue to become. Those with various colors will be ignored. Only the jade with a pure color will be selected and further used. The jade with pure white color like animal fat is believed to be very special and the best of the best. The jade from the Hetian area of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is soft, dense, tenacious, and white in color. Chinese Emperors favored this kind the most. "A noble man compares his morality with his jade's traits." I think this saying not only shows that jade is spiritually high-end, but it also says that a noble man and jade are similar as well.

In ancient times, jade was not collected for appreciation in the way modern people do. The ancient Chinese believed in the existence of Gods. Gods protected people, and people, in turn, conducted themselves according to moral standards set forth by Gods for a better life. To thank the Gods for offering them a good life, people started to hold memorial services. From then on, people started to use jade to show respect to Gods, heaven, and earth.

Why did people choose jade? It was because of its special characteristics. It is solid, compact and impossible to erode. Even when it is covered with dirt, its characteristics do not change. After hard scrubbing, it reveals its true self.

There were a lot of strict rules on how to use jade in the ancient China. The emperor, ministers and officials all used jade differently. Wearing jade was not for the purpose of showing off wealth, but to remind oneself to watch their mind and behavior. Of course, along with the jade being widely used, a carving technique was applied to the jade. However, that was not so mainstream. It was inappropriate if people paid too much attention to that.

Nowadays, people make money with jade or use it for decoration. Some even use it to show off their wealth. Along the way, people started to apply artificial colors to jade and use other techniques to make more profits. The true meaning of the jade was forgotten, and today, very few people know the fundamental usage of jade.

January 20. 2007