The Connotation of Ancient Chinese Jade Article

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The connotation of ancient Chinese jade article includes not only its design art, grinding technique, literature recordation, but also its incomparable value: etiquette, religion, decoration functions, and economic and social value.
In ancient times, the political vale of jade article manifested that it was the symbol of social classes and the carrier for people's moral and cultural conception. The unearthed jade articles usually came from the mid-and-large scaled tombs whose owners had high social status. In the Chunqiu Periods and Warring States time, there was strict rule for officials on using jade articles: different ranks of officials should wear different kinds of jade articles. Since the Qin Dynasty, its emperor used jade as his royal seal, and this rule was followed by the rest of royal dynasties for thousands of years. The definitive rule of wearing jade by senior officials was applied in Tang Dynasty.

Jade also symbolized magnificent moral character in ethics and morality field in earlier times. The Confucianism school considered "an honored man should have virtues of the jade". In Eastern Han Dynasty, there was a saying on jade, "Jade, a kind of gorgeous stone, has five virtues". It compared five morals of people to the five virtues of jade, that is, "humanity, righteousness, wisdom, courage, and pureness". The mainstream of jade in ancient times was also embodied at it convenance function. The "six jade articles" were the major parts for convenance-use in feudalism society, i.e. to use jade articles of different textures in different shapes for different purposes, including sacrifice, worship, relationship, military ceremony and so on.

The religious function of jade mainly represented in jade articles used in totem worship, Buddhism and Taoism by ancient people. The economic value of jade had never decreased since the Shang Dynasty, when the jade was used as currency, and equivalent for tributes. So there is another saying about jade as "Gold is valuable while the jade is invaluable".

The main function of jade article is always for decoration. Jade bead strand, jade bracelet and baldric are used to beautify people; jade sword decoration, jade belt, jade button are used to ornament finery; jade mountain model, jade bottle or vase, fume furnace and so on are for display.

Among the five functions of ancient Chinese jade articles, the economic and ornamental functions are the natural attribute of jade, and they remain the same in modern times. The other three functions are gave by people and are the particular functions only in ancient times.

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