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Its name was given by the Conquistadors in the 15th century. They used to call it "piedra de ijada" or "stone for the fossa". This expression refers to the iliac fossa for according to an Amerindian legend, the jade could cure kidneys and diarrheas, as well as driving away bad spirits.
It is a very strong stone. It is used in decoration and jewelry. Actually, the word jade gathers three minerals with different compositions but with a very similar appearance: the jadeite, the nephrite and the kosmochlor.
It was only in 1863 that the two first minerals were identified by Alexis Damour. The word Jadeite has indeed the same meaning than the jade as its name comes from the Latin "lapis Nephriticus", or "stone of the fossa" referring to the same Amerindian tradition.
There is a difference between the nephrite jade (composed of magnesium and calcium silicate) and the jadeite jade (composed of sodium silicate and aluminum).
There are different colors of the jadeite but people traditionally prefer the green color. The white one is the purest one but you can also find white, sometimes pink, blue green (called the jade of the Olmecs), dark green (called the jade of the Mayas), blue, green, emerald, lavender, red, orange, green black.
The nephrite jade goes from white cream hues to dark olive green, brown or black colors. Its surface seems to be covered by a slight smooth varnish.
You have to be careful when buying jade because there are a lot of fake ones. A serpentine called antigorite is often used and dyed to look like jade. It is less expensive. It is also softer and is easier to carve.
Since stones were polished, the jade stone has been used in the making of weapons, of decorative objects or in rituals.
Egyptians used to associate this stone with the goddess of justice, Maat.
The Irish Celts would associate it to the feminine goddess, Brigit.
The Greek people would associate the jade to the Moire, the three goddesses of destiny who would guide men from their birth to their death. They would also use the healing properties of the jade. It would sooth and cure eyes. They would directly place a stone on the eyelid or they would transform it into a cleansing solution. As an elixir, they would use it against snake or rat bites, as well as for stomach aches.
Roman people would associate the jade stone to the earth and fertility goddess, Bona Dea.
Chinese people used this stone very early. They would call it "Yu". They would use it in their art and a lot of legends talk about it.
It would symbolize the power of the emperor. He used to own a scepter made of jade. Also, each of the 5 princes would own a jade tablet. Each year, according to the desire of the emperor to have them as princes or not, they would have to give it back to him. He would then give it back to them or not.
According to the Chinese mythology, the jade would be the dried sperm of dragons.
During the Chinese antiquity, the medical use of jade was very strict and protected. If you would break a jade object, you could be put to death. They would also place a jade cicada in the mouth of dead that would symbolize the eternal life as well as resurrection in the underworld. It would allow keeping the energies of the yin by avoiding the decomposition that would guarantee a good reincarnation.
The stone was dedicated to the goddess of pity, compassion and unconditional love, Guan Yin. A husband or a lover would often offer a piece of jade carved in the shape of a butterfly to his fiancée. It was a symbol of happy love. The legend says that a young man ran after a multicolor butterfly and arrived in the gardens of a rich mandarin. Instead of being punished, he met the daughter of the mandarin and married her.
During the bridal party in China, the newlyweds traditionally drink in a jade cup in the shape of a rooster. The legend says that a white rooster would have killed himself for not being separated from his mistress. It then became a symbol of faithfulness.
According to the Mayas, the jade was the stone of creation. When Cortes gave the order to the Aztec king, Moctezuma, to give him all his treasures, he was very disappointed when he received jade and not gold. For Pre-Hispanic people, this stone was worth more than gold.
For a lot of tribes in Mexico, Central and South America, the jade was linked to water. It was offered a lot and it was often thrown in cenotes or wells. It was also used a lot to make masks or ritual objects.
Aztec people linked this stone to the goddess of water and protector of the children, Chalchuihtlicue. Its name means "skirt of jade". They would also dedicate this stone to the goddess of death and life, Coatlicue, "skirt of snake".
New Zealand tribes would also link the jade to the worship of water. Maoris would associate the stone to the big lady of the night, Hune-nui-te-po, the goddess of death. Very symbolic objects for the Maoris are often made with nephrite jade. It is called Hei-tiki or "human pendant". It is a representation of an important ancestor that the Maoris wear around their neck.
The jade is a source of harmony and this is why, during the antiquity, jade sculptures were used to decorate the house.
For the nephrite jade, China, Russia, New Zealand, Canada.
For the jadeite jade, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Kosmochlor (imperial jade).
/!\ Please note that all healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions.