The refinement of jade in ancient East Asia
In distant times, people fought a difficult battle with nature, suffering from the ravages of the elements and learning how the sun controls all life; the movement of the sun leads to the change of night and day, winter and summer, and it also decides the growth and decay of plants and the survival and well-being of the human race. Life is maintained by the vital energies present throughout the universe. Primitive man therefore believed that heaven, earth, sun, moon, mountains, rivers, grass and trees as well as wind, rain, thunder and lightning are the soulful spirits of the gods.
Using bamboo, wood, rock and bone to manufacture tools, they discovered a few tough, immortal and beautiful rocks with a soft, bright luster. Tools made out of these rocks helped them overcome great difficulties. The rock's luster reminded them of the ray's of the spring sun which gave life to the earth. Maybe this rock also contained the life-giving vital energy! They gave this rock a beautiful name -- Jade.
Our ancestors believed that the vital energy enclosed in jade was in direct contact with the gods. Carving it in the shape of the turning universe or the likeness of their ancestors improved its magic powers. As time passed, alliances of villages gradually evolved into nation-like societies. As civilization developed, societies were stratified and social classes took form. Groups of clever shamans able to communicate with the gods took over management of human affairs, making the king their leader. They used jade, through which they communicated with the spiritual world, to absorb the wisdom of the gods and communicate with the heavens.