December 17, 2017

Jade from China

Jade BoatCreamy white stones of semi translucent jade tumble down from the mountains of Tibet to southern Xinjiang. Chinese buyers began arriving here in the early 1990s. Khotan is mad about jade when traders from ancient Rome and Constantinople traveled their way to Xi'an via the Silk Road.

The finest jade has become more valuable than gold fetching $3,000 an ounce- a tenfold increase from a decade ago and has turned Khotan cotton farmers into jade tycoons.

The region is convulsed by ethnic strife and the manna has enriched both the Khotan's native Uighurs (Turkic-speaking Islams) and Han Chinese. Tourists flock the jade bazaar to by miniature buddhist figurines, stalking tigers and overpriced rocks.

In 1600 BC the Shang dynasty royals slept on jade pillows, signed edicts with jade chops and interred their loved ones in jade-like frocks. Contemporary Chinese say that it has medicinal and even magical powers. Jade provides the link between physical and spiritual worlds bolstered by the jade's tendency to change color when worn on the body.