Tag Archives: jade

Tibetan Ornamentation- Khampa

Tibetan Ornamentation- Khampa

 

01-Pic by Antoine Taveneaux -800px-People_of_Tibet13-By Antoine Taveneaux - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommo

Pic by Antoine Taveneaux -800px-People_of_Tibet13-By Antoine Taveneaux – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommo

The summer months have come to a close all too quickly and it is now September. And with that, on this Labor Day Holiday, Ontario’s biggest city Toronto buzzed with a beehive of activity satiating the senses of sight, hearing and taste via umpteen exciting festivals. 

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This last hurrah compelled us all to live it up, as though our lives depended on it.  For soon the humdrum of daily life will be back upon us. Back to work, back to school, the end of nice, easygoing time and weather. All will be replaced by cold icy temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and the flu season. Then comes the dreaded snow…Uggg, winter is coming! (Pardon the private joke from this fan of the HBO series’ Game of Thrones).

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And if you believe the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter will be a particularly harsh one!   But I digress, in between the haste of cramming in as much summertime fun; there is also the hustle and bustle of shopping. And with winter attire acquired; why not splurge on something frivolous?

04-Antoine Taveneaux - own work-People of Tiebet (in Nagqu Horse festival)

Antoine Taveneaux – own work-People of Tiebet (in Nagqu Horse festival)

 Recently my interests veered towards unique jewelry, the indigenous sort. Tibetan jewelry presented itself as a new area to be explored. I visited several vendors that offered some unique, antique and rare geometric designs encompassing pieces of turquoise and amber. There was one particular necklace that drew my attention; however, when I put it up against my neck, I felt a strange sensation. The feeling of a pair of hands choking me became more pronounced when the clasp was fastened.  I couldn’t get  it  off me fast enough and, paying no heed to the special deal the vender offered for enticement, I hastily but politely exited the premises.  As my steps took me to safe distance, now don’t laugh, I felt as though I’d dodged something unholy. I’m not averse to acquiring antique pieces and sometimes they can be quite interesting as I am a History buff. Still, my subsequent move was to pay a visit to another Tibetan vendor that I was sure sold new jewelry pieces. No pre-owned stuff after that scare. I selected a few pieces that appealed to my taste and were moderately priced. 

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Sometime later, I came across some interesting pictures on the internet about Tibetan Khampa Posted on Flickr by Better World 2010.  The men and women were covered in plentiful huge chunks of amber, coral and turquoise jewelry.  This was intriguing to say the least. Why be burdened with such weight?

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Then I came across some even more fascinating info about legendary Khampa people living in eastern Tibet who never fall ill and live a long time. As seen in these pictures, they are usually tall, well built and fearless. The Khampa men often stood out in a crowd, same as the women; all decked out with gold and silver, amber and red coral accessories, with their long plaited hair and tanned faces. I read somewhere that their bright unrestrained laughter resonated in the air when in festivals they moved in clusters like the moving hills.  I wish I was there to see it in person.

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Intrigued, I prodded further: The indigenous group was said to reside on the mysterious snowy plateau and furthermore, they were believed to be the offspring of the god of war and the goddess of beauty. With such lineage, the women were sure to be beautiful and the men always, stoic and valiant. Clearly, surviving the hostile elements of nature has only strengthened their life-force.

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There was even a mysterious legend about this indigenous group: It was believed that once, a long time ago in the Medicine King City, there lived the Medicine King. Impressed by the Khampa’s fearless and gallant nature, he often dispensed free medical treatment. Furthermore, he passed on to Khampa all that he knew, including all the herbal medicine and disease treatment methods. Since then, the Khampa had never fallen ill.  More interestingly, all the panaceas (universal remedies, cure-alls, magic potions) came from the Medicine King City.

As great as this belief is, the disbeliever may attribute Khampa people’s lasting good health to their inherent good habits, the sensible and diligent care they have in the prevention of all diseases.

Meanwhile the whole Tibetan regions, its indigenous customs, ceremonial ornamentation, Khampa, are all a marvel to explore.  Here is some more which I would like to share:

Did you know that different regions of Tibet have their own unique customs, dialect, and styles of ornamentation? The styles of ceremonial costumes worn by the rich families are as distinct and therefore easily recognisable in determining the region.

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Headpiece’s elaborately studded with coral resemble a crown. Coral studded gold armlets, or Copal beads (‘sherpa coral’) may be used by both men and women in the place of coral, covering the length of their forearms and fingers in gold bracelets and rings.

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 The beautiful costumes of the Khampas are considered to be the main store of the family’s wealth and announce the social status of the wearers. They are handed down from generation to generation.

Till recently most Tibetan families were nomadic and had to move every few months because of the snowy seasons in the Himalayas so, being unable to store wealth in the form of estates or houses or land or in a bank,  Khampas developed this practical and portable means of transporting and storing their wealth.  These rich nomadic ornaments are set in colorful, chunky and bold designs.

Tibetan culture is very specific in determining the type of stone or ornaments that are to be used: these are usually amber, turquoise, coral and jade, because the stones are believed to hold spiritual power. There is also a firm belief that the stones provide good luck and protection from disease. Dyed red coral is the most sought after stone, but interestingly enough, Tibet is quite far away from any oceans and therefore coral must be acquired through trade. Archeological finds also revealed that the beliefs of spiritual protection being provided by coral, amber and turquoise probably originated from the ancient shamanic Bon religion, as the designs of pieces predates the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet.

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Now these stones are always set in pure gold or silver that is naturally found in Tibet. Tibetans also consider these precious metals sacred and that they hold spiritual power of their own, therefore, mixing gold or silver will be a sacrilege. As a result, some costumes are worth somewhere between $10,000 all the way up to many millions of US dollars, depending on the quality of stones and antiquity of the ornaments. The costumes can weigh up to 44lb, much of that weight derived from the gold and silver amulet pieces attached in front, behind and on the head. These costumes are worn on annual festival days such as at the Litang Horse Festival.

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These ornaments have the utmost sentimental value and significance, because they are the physical remnants of generations of their ancestor’s hard work or success. This belief has also been traced by the archeological finds all the way back to the 1st century AD.

 Testament to this truth is unearthed ornaments that are found to be essentially the same in design and materials as those today.

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The End

 

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With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

(From: Spring and Autumn Annals)

 Re-written by BoSt

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Long ago, Duke Xian of the state of Jin wished to expand his realm and power; the Duke hence, bade Xun Xi to launch an expedition against the powerful State of Guo. The great distance however was of some concern and the campaign’s success depended on traversing the State of Yu. At the time there was a tentative alliance with Yu so Duke Xian asked Xun Xi for his counsel on this matter.

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“In order to secure Duke Yu’s promise to let our army pass …. Hmm…” Xun Xi remained hesitant for a moment, before resuming, “The surest way My Lord, would be to present Duke Yu with our Chuji Jade and good number of Quchan steeds.”

(Note: Xhuji in Xhanxi Province was famous at the time for producing excellent jade stones and Quxhan in Shanxi Province was renowned for its fine breed of horses.)

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“Is there no other way?” The Duke Xian was displeased with the suggestion. “The stone is an inherited treasure and should remain so for the next generations. And the idea of losing my steeds to that loathsome, pompous Lord is quite unacceptable. “Duke Xian grumbled, “Perchance, what if Duke Yu accepted our gift but refused our request, what then?”

Xun Xi braved Lord’s fury with this quick riposte: “Well my Lord, if Lord Yu refuses the fine gifts, we can be certain of his veiled hostility and look elsewhere for the safe passage. If however, his Lordship does accept it, we’d only be allowing his Lordship temporary custody of the treasures. What is there to be worried about?”

Duke Xian nodded with approval and soon after sent Xun Xi to the State of Yu to negotiate the army’s safe passage.  

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Xun Xi was quick to gain admittance to the Yu court.  He presented a splendid figure in his fineries holding the large precious stone before him.  Many courtiers gasped witnessing the magnificent steeds that were corralled into the courtyard, dazzling everyone. 

Duke Yu greedy for the fine gifts, was about to make the emissary of Jin Xun Xi a rash promise when one of his loyal subjects, Gong Ziyi, came forward to protest: “My Lord, I beg a private council with you, if you please.”

“What, now?” Duke Yu was annoyed.

“How preposterous an intrusion! Has propriety and good sense left Gong Ziyi” Many courtiers grumbled under their breath.

Nevertheless Guo Ziyi was a well respected, loyal minister and Lord Yu was bit intrigued. He signalled Guo to advance and gave him permission to speak his mind.

Guo Ziyi was most direct. “There shall be no promise of any kind, your Grace.” His strong, resounding voice simply ripped through the stone cold silence that had enveloped the court.

“What Yu is to Guo is like gums to the cheeks. Gums are closely related to cheeks and cheeks to gums; which is exactly the present situation of Yu in relation to Guo. As the old ancestral saying goes, ‘If the lips are gone, the teeth will be exposed to cold.’  The fact that Guo is able to exist depends on Yu while Yu’s ability to survive hinges on Guo.  This inter-dependency will be jeopardized, if we make way for Jin army, allowing Guo to perish.  Their demise will transpire in the morning to be followed by Yu in the evening.”

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Guo again spoke in good strong voice: “Why should we ever let Jin pass?  Why seek a small gain, only to harm vital interests?”

Duke Yu, however refused to listen to reason and, blinded by greed, in the end still gave the Jin army convenient access to Guo.

Thus Xun Xi attacked Guo and conquered it, and on the way back attacked Yu and conquered it too.

Xun Xi then triumphantly returned to Jin. The jade and the horses were once again restored to Duke Xian who, greatly pleased, said in good humor: “The jade remains the same, but he horses have got some more teeth!”

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Fin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reason We Love Jade

The Reason We Love Jade

 Ting

The term jade is applied to two different metamorphic rocks that are made up of different silicate minerals: nephrite and Jadeite.

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Simply put, Nephrite consists of microcrystalline interlocking elements of calcium, magnesium and iron; the higher the iron content the greener the color. Jadeite on the other hand is a composed of sodium and aluminium-rich pyroxene.   

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Jadeite, measuring between 6.0 and 7.0 Mohs hardness, is about the same hardness as quartz. It is more fragile and more difficult to carve.  Nephrite ranking between 6.0 and 6.5 Mohs hardness scale,  though slightly softer, is nevertheless tougher than jadeite and therefore can be worked with quartz or garnet sand, and polished with bamboo or even ground jade.

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Canada provides the major share of modern lapidary nephrite. The most valuable Nephrite however comes from Hetian in the southern part of present day Xinjiang Province.  It has been mined from the mountains and is found as pebbles in the river beds. The most desirable Hetian jade is translucent and has an oily surface sometimes referred to as “mutton fat”.  Nephrite can be found in a creamy white form (known in China as “mutton fat” jade) as well as in a variety of green colors; whereas jadeite shows more color variations  such as white, green, black , blue, lavender-mauve, pink, and emerald-green colors well-being that can be translucent to opaque.

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Of the two, jadeite is rarer. Translucent emerald-green jadeite is the most prized variety, both historically and today. Burma (Myanmar) and Guatemala are the principal sources of modern gem jadeite. In the area of Mogaung in the Myitkyina District of Upper Burma, jadeite formed a layer in the dark-green serpentine, and has been quarried and exported for well over a hundred years.

Pair of Jade Bangles

Wearing a jade bangle that fits close to your wrist and bumps the bones on your wrist stimulates acupuncture points that are located around the wrist bone, and keep the qi flowing smoothly for health and youthfulness.

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The rarest are the colors of white, lavender, red, often described as “hong”, and yellow. Black jade is often very dark green jade, but black jade color is rare, often seen as charcoal. Jade is a natural stone, has lots of lines, fissures that look like small cracks but are not signs of damage. As moisture carries other minerals through the jade the different colors are deposited.

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  Jade is valued for its intrinsic qualities; for one thing it is believed to be closely related to the human body, and the jade qi energy and the body qi energy flow between each other. Jade qi helps to balance the body. If the wearer is healthy and happy, the jade they wear will become more beautiful each consecutive day. If however one sees their jade is looking dull or flat, take heed and be extra vigilant in preserving good health.

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It is interesting to note also that the minerals that make the colors are part of the qi energy and represent different energies:  

– Green jade has energy for healing mind and body, calmness and balance and love. Light green is more yin qi, and darker green is more yang energy.

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  –  White jade has the pure energy of the universe, and helps us develop deep wisdom from within, and calms our spirit.

  –  Lavender jade is often reserved for older women in Chinese culture, and has energy for inner peace, spiritual awareness and is often used for meditation and balance, and is a teacher of all things.

Jade Plum Tree

    -“Hong” jade, red/orange color, has energy for protection and safety, success, confidence, courage and happiness

    -Yellow jade qi augments happiness, prosperity, spiritual growth and satisfaction in life.

   – Black jade is very yang, and the carvers try to make each piece with only a small amount of black. Black jade is used by martial artists, those who practice tai chi and qigong, to build up the body qi.

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Jade is also believed to protect the person who wears it. Caught in an accident or other such, the jade bangle bears the brunt and gets broken or destroyed sparing the wearer from any harm.  Here’s one such story:   A women was once being treated in a hospital with serious cardiac illness she’d not been expected to survive. She happened to be wearing her always-present red jade bangle bracelet. As the doctor thought she was going to die, suddenly her jade bangle spontaneously broke in several pieces, and her health miraculously rebounded and she made completely recovery. There many such stories about jade protecting a person who wears it.

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It is any wonder why it is considered quite fortunate to give or receive a gift of jade. Jade is a popular gift particularly around the New Year, with both the giver and receiver being blessed with good luck for the year, and even longer.

When jade is worn for a long period it is believed to become part of the wearer, therefore giving such a gift to a family member or a close friend carries the connotation that the presenters are giving the other a part of themselves.

Jade wishstick

So do wear a jade, in full knowledge that wearing this beautiful stone will enrich one’s life, balance the body, mind and also the spirit.

Good Luck.

Feng Shui and Coins

Feng Shui and Coins

Have you ever wondered why ancient Chinese coins are round with a square hole in the middle? Aside from its practical applications in that they can be strung together and easily carried, it also has a symbolic meaning because the coin’s round shape represents Heaven and the square center symbolizes Earth.  So when you hold these coins you are holding the joining of each and completing the heaven-man-earth trinity.  How about that!

Feng Shui empowers those who practice it with the opportunity to be proactive and to take control of the most part of their present or future well being.

No need to seek out the true artefacts as replicas will suffice. They can be readily found in any Chinese curio store. If they are not newly minted however, make sure to cleanse them first of any negativity.

You may combine your Chinese coin jewellery with jade pieces for the jade represents protection and prosperity.

Hanging Chinese coins on the inside of the front door of your home or office welcomes abundance and prosperity to those who dwell within. Use three Chinese coins strung together through their square center holes with a red ribbon. Why the number three? In Chinese belief it stands for growth and life.  Do not hang coins on your back door as this allows the wealth and prosperity to leak out or leave your premises.

Wishing you best of luck always.

Crystals

Crystals

In your office or home, place a citrine crystal on your desk next to your telephone or computer. The citrine crystal symbolizes wealth and prosperity.

You can also wear jewellery made of citrine, ametrine, adventurine, black onyx, jade and coral, all of which have prosperity enhancing properties.