A Nobleman Has the Same Characteristics as Jade

October 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Asia, Culture | Leave a comment
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Adapted from Clearwisdom.net
Nov 17, 2008

(TheEpochTimes.com)The Chinese and the western world view jade differently. In western mineralogy and petrology, rocks and minerals are studied solely based on their chemical and physical characteristics. Scientists probe into their composition and the manner in which they were formed. They are then classified and appraised based on their investigations. However, the ancient Chinese studied rocks and minerals with a connection to good moral character and spirituality.

There is an ancient Chinese saying: “A nobleman never leaves his jade behind without a reason.” Confucius also said, “A nobleman has the same characteristics as jade.” Jade’s characteristics, soft, yet solid, and tenacious, were associated with upright characteristics. So noblemen wore jade to remind themselves to uphold good moral behavior. Confucius said that a nobleman should be respectful and amenable but also steadfast in his heart. In other words, a nobleman should maintain great tolerance of others but be strict with himself. Likewise, he should not show off his inner strengths and instead be humble. Jade’s characteristics were considered similar to a nobleman’s good moral character so the ancient Chinese wore jade.

The ancient Chinese classified jade based on its softness, density, and tenacity, but the color was also crucial. Only monochromatic jade was classified as high grade while those with various colors were ignored. Jade that was pure white like animal fat was believed to be the most precious. The Hetian area of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region was said to have the purest jade. In fact, Chinese Emperors favored jade from this area the most. There is saying, “A nobleman compares his morality with his jade’s characteristics.” Emperors and noblemen often examined their own character traits for tolerance, amenability, and self-discipline. They were China’s moral exemplars so it was imperative that they cultivate their character to match the purity of their jade.

In ancient times, jade also had spiritual value and was not collected for its monetary or decorative value, rather, it was used on special occasions to show reverence to the Heavens. The ancient Chinese believed that Gods protected people, and in turn, people conducted themselves according to the moral standard set forth by Gods. In this way, people lived in harmony with the Earth and Heavens. The ancient Chinese showed their respect to this universal order through ceremonies using jade because it served as a reminder to preserve one’s innate upright character imparted by Gods. Even when covered by layers of rock, jade’s nature remains unchanged and unblemished after meticulous gem cutting. The ancients never wanted to forget their divine connection.

Nowadays, people use jade as a symbol of social status or simply for decorative purposes. The customary way of using jade to uphold good moral character and to pay respect to the Heavens has largely been forgotten. Today, very few people know the true value of jade.

Read the original article in Chinese

Last Updated
Nov 21, 2008

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