The first stop is at a Jade Museum to learn the history of jade. In Chinese, jade is pronounced as “Yu” and it has a history in China of at least four thousand years. On the way there, we are given a story about one of the guide’s relatives who had a jade bracelet, and how it has saved her from countless catastrophes. It is, quite literally ‘the’ good luck charm. Chinese gamblers are known to have small pieces of jade in their hands when visiting the casinos, for good luck. I’m not sure anything could provide a gambler with any sort of luck given how the odds are always slanted towards the house.
At any rate, this is neither the time of the place to debunk a ‘well-known fact’.
On arrival, our guide hands us over to a local guide, a real staff member, and she begins with a discussion on jade while we watch a single worker working on an intricate piece, what looks to be a globe within a globe, sorry, there are two workers, and the second is working on a dragon.
At the end of the passage that passes by the workers, and before you enter the main showroom, you are dazzled by the ship and is nothing short of magnificent.
Then it’s into a small room just off the main showroom where we are taken through the colours, and the carving process in the various stages, without really being told how the magic happens.
Then it’s out into the main showroom where the sales are made, and before dispersing to look at the jade collection, she briefly tells us how to tell real and fake jade, and she does the usual trick of getting one of the tour group to model a piece.
Looks good, let’s move on. To bigger and better examples.
What interested me, other than the small zodiac signs and other smallish pieces on the ‘promotion’ table, was the jade bangle our tour guide told us about on the bus. If anyone needs one, it is my other half, with all the medical issues and her sometimes clumsiness, two particular maladies this object is supposed to prevent.
Jade to the Chinese is Diamonds to westerners, and the jade bangle is often handed down to the females of the family from generation to generation, often as an engagement present, to be worn on the left hand, the one closest to the heart.
There are literally thousands of them, but, they have to be specially fitted to your wrist because if it’s too large, you might lose it if it slips off and I didn’t think it could be too small.
Nor is it cheap, and needing a larger size, it is reasonably expensive. But it is jadeite, the more expensive of the types of jade, and it can only appreciate in value, not that we are interested in the monetary value, it’s more the good luck aspect.
We could use some of that.
But, just to touch on something that can be the bugbear of travelling overseas, is the subject of happy houses, a better name for toilets, and has become a recurrent theme on this tour. It’s better than blurting out the word toilet and it seems there can be some not-so-happy houses given that the toilets in China are usually squat rather than sit, even for women.
And apparently, everyone has an unhappy house story, particularly the women, and generally in having to squat over a pit. Why is this a discussion point, it seems the jade factory had what we have come to call happy, happy houses which have more proper toilets, and a stop here before going on the great wall was recommended, as the ‘happy house’ at the wall is deemed to be not such a happy house.
Not even this dragon was within my price range. Thank heaven they had smaller more affordable models. The object of having a dragon, large or small, is that it should be placed inside the main door to the house so that money can come in.
It also seems that stuffing the dragon’s mouth with money is also good luck. We passed on doing that.
After spending a small fortune, there was a bonus, free Chinese tea. Apparently, we will be coming back, after the Great Wall visit, to have lunch upstairs.