J is for Jade

Today is all about Jade.

 “Gold has value, jade is invaluable”
~ Chinese proverb

Many centuries ago, a man named Bian He once found a stone at the bottom of a mountain in China. He recognized it as a stone of value, so he brought it to the king. King Li examined the stone and found it unworthy, so he cut off the man’s left foot for wasting his time. Later, the king’s son had taken over the throne. So Bian He brought the stone to the new king, hoping that he would see the value. Nope. This second king ordered his other foot cut off for wasting his time.

A third king, King Wen, was later in power. One day the new king had heard of a man who had been sitting at the foothill of a mountain, crying for three days. This man had no feet. So the king sent someone to ask the man why he was crying. Was he crying about his lack of feet? Bian He said, “I am not upset about my feet. I am upset that my precious jade is only called a stone and that I was called a liar.” So King Wen had the stone cut open and they found a large piece of precious jade inside. So the king called the jade stone “he shi”, with “He” being the last name of the man who found it and “Shi” meaning “jade”.

Eventually, this jade stone was stolen from the area of Chu where it was found. This was many years later, I imagine. The stone was highly valued in all of China. It was stolen and sold to the king of Zhao. Later, the King of Qin took an interest in it and offered the King of Zhao 15 cities to buy it from him. The King of Zhao agreed.

Then, as they went to make the exchange it became apparent that the King of Qin was trying to cheat King Zhao out of the deal.  So Zhao’s advisor tricked King Qin into giving it back to him, saying that it had a defect. When the advisor, Xiangru, got the stone back, he threatened to smash it to bits if they did not let him return the stone to Zhao, where it belonged. King Qin did not want to be responsible for the smashing of the stone, so he let it go.

Many years later, the stone was stolen by a later Qin King and carved into what was known as the Imperial Seal. The words “Having received the Mandate from Heaven, may the emperor lead a long and prosperous life” were carved upon the seal. The seal was then passed from dynasty to dynasty as different groups took leadership throughout the centuries. Somewhere along the way, the seal was lost. They have never found it to this day. Nobody knows what happened to it. Did an emperor hide it and then fell sick and died? Did someone steal it? There is no record of what happened to it that has been found.

So that is why jade is so special to the Chinese. These days, you can find many carvings of jade on Etsy and online. Many carve animals of the Chinese Zodiac and wearing jade is considered a protective amulet. Jade will darken as it is worn, which is a symbol of loyalty as well. Perhaps the symbol of loyalty originated from the story of He Bian, because he was so loyal to the stone? Often times, you will see disks carved from jade with a hole in the center to represent this imperial seal. Even this latest Olympics that was held in Beijing, had the shape of this imperial seal, the Bi, as their symbol for the Olympics. It is a big part of Chinese culture.

Do you have anything made of jade? Which stones are special to you? Tell us about it in the comments.


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This post is part of a series called the A to Z Blogging Challenge, taking place during the month of April 2016. Each day is a new letter throughout the month. My theme this month is NATURE. To view other bloggers writing about this alphabet, check out the list here.  

If you are enjoying the A – Z Challenge and want more blogging connection in your daily life, considering joining our Inspired Blogging Group on Facebook! 

The list so far…

A is for Aspen
B is for BreathB is for Butterfly
C is for Consciousness
D is for Deep Space
E is for Earth
F is for Fire
G is for Garden Gnomes
H is for Heaven
I is for Inequality



  1. What a fascinating tale Amy. I’ve been fascinated with jade ever since I was a kid and toured a lapidary museum that had a very impressive exhibit on jade carving. I have a jade ring. I think sometimes about getting a jade dragon as that’s my birth animal.
    Deborah Weber recently posted…Manifesto: J is for…My Profile

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