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Jade in Chinese belief > Jade in ancient China > Jade in Chinese belief  |  Print  |  E-mail a friend

While some schools of philosophy rejected jade as a sheer luxury of the feudal class, Han Feizi’s verdict is based on everyday life: “Gold or jade vessels, be they ever so precious, are fit for nothing when they leak, for who could use them for anything?”

Confucius, on the other hand, regarded jade as an important ritual material. His students further elaborated on his ideas and thus developed the unique system of ritual jade to substantiate the hierarchical structure of feudal society. The king was assigned the “qui” jade named “Zhen”, and the five classes of the nobility were assigned the stones called “huan”, “xin”, “gong”, “yu” and “pu”.

In Emperor Wu’s reign (140-87 BC), the jade code indicated clan distinctions; ritual jades were religious accessories, jade charms protected the wearer and there were impressive burial jades. In about 113 BC, Liu Sheng, prince of Zhongshan, was buried with numerous jades, as was the Han Emperor Wu later.

According to Ge Hang (284-363 AD), the jades were to prevent the decomposition of the corpse. The magical powers of the stone equipped Liu Sheng for immortality after a lifetime in which he had “loved wine and women”. This privilege was reserved solely for the rulers and their families and exceptionally worthy people.

The picture above shows Emperor Wu, 140 - 87 BC.
The picture below shows the burial suit of Prince Liu Sheng, 113 BC, made from jade and gold wire.

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