ABSTRACT

Jade (yu) is a precious stone of two types, nephrite (soft jade) from China and Central Asia, used in early Chinese history, and jadeite (hard jade) from Myanmar (Burma), widely known in China since the eighteenth century. An eternal symbol of Chinese civilization, jade was important in Hemudu culture, which was China’s earliest Neolithic age starting around 7,000 years ago. During the *Shang-*Zhou dynasties, the utilisation of jade for sacrificial vessels was strictly regulated, and demonstrated one’s status and official rank. Because of its innate beauty, its costly abrasion process and the distinct techniques needed to make artifacts, jade was prized as the ‘royal gem’, symbolizing power and wealth in the Chinese tradition.