Tradition Mission

Hetian jade

Updated: 2011-01-13 08:32

By Cong Fangjun (

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Interview: Wang Weixing, Jade collector

When we talk about Hetian jade, no matter if it's from the royal family, folk collections, or the jade on display in the Forbidden City, and no matter if we are talking about cultural heritage protection or how it comes into being, one can always feel a connection with the precious material. I think maybe it's because Hetian jade is so closely related to Xinjiang.

Hetian in Xinjiang is famous for its high-quality nephrite jade, which is made up of tremolite. In terms of quality, the more tremolite there is the better quality the jade. Tremolite is transparent, so when it forms into ores, most of them are creamy white. However, Hetian jade comes in about seven different colors: creamy white, green white, green, blue green, dark green, red and yellow. Such diversity is caused by the volcanic eruptions. There's no tremolite on Earth's crust. Streams of lava which contain tremolite will mix with minerals when they flow from the volcano. Then the creamy white pure tremolite will turn into dark green with increasing mineral content.

Hetian jade is mined from many places, such as Canada and Korea. According to the national standard in China, all of this jade can be labeled as Hetian jade. It's a broad concept. But in terms of China's cultural traditions dating back thousands of years, Heitan only refers to the kind of jade in Xinjiang's Hetian region. Actually in Xinjiang, Hetian jade is not only found around the Kunlun Mountains. Other places, such as Manas in the northern part of Tianshan Mountains, also have Hetian jade -- most of which are jaspers made up of tremolite.

Jade from different regions have their own physical characteristics that attract different people. Since I have lived in Xinjiang for a long time, I do have a special feeling about it. So personally, when we are talking about Hetian jade, I am thinking of the specific kind from Hetian in the Kunlun Mountains in Xinjiang.


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