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Why the Jade Dragon?

evokes a feeling of cool, smooth, and soft.

brings to mind fire, strength, and activity.

Both are powerful images of Asia with deep cultural significance. How appropriate that this publication draws from the strength of these two images.

"In ancient times," said Confucius, "men found the likeness of all excellent qualities in jade. Soft, smooth, and glossy, it appeared to them like benevolence; fine, compact and strong – like intelligence; angular, but not sharp and cutting – like righteousness."

Though jade is usually associated with the Chinese, actually none of the world's few sources of jade were within China's boundaries in the early days. The main sources of jade were located in the river beds and mountains of Khotan and Yarkand in Sinkiang, two thousand miles away from the center of ancient Chinese civilization. Today some jade is mined and imported from eastern Siberia while most comes from upper Burma. Other sources of jade include New Zealand, India, and some European countries.

Produced through the natural forces of rivers and mountains, jade is considered by the Chinese to be a product of Nature produced by the interaction of the “Essence” of great mountains and rivers and the “Breath” of Heaven and Earth.

Jade is known as Yu to the Chinese, the Yeshm to the Persians and the Sootash to the Turks. It is popular to most Asian cultures and varies in color according to the proportion of iron it contains. While apple green is the favorite color of most, jade also comes in indigo, kingfisher blue, yellow, cinnabar red, blood red, black and white.

The Chinese recognize nine varieties of dragons and three chief species of dragons – the lung, the li and the chiao. The lung is the considered the only authentic species. It represents the principle of heaven, the rain deity (water), adaptability, the emperor, light, activity and the maleness in the yin/yang of Chinese cosmology.

The dragon is the ruler of scaly animals and in some Asian cultures considered the king of all animals. Many dragons are similarly recognized in Japanese culture. Japanese dragons include the ryu (originating in China - a big dragon with no wings) and tatsu (the native Japanese dragon that is smaller but with large wings).

In Japanese art the dragon is never totally visible. It is partially hidden in swirling clouds or stormy waves, as “no mortal may look upon its entire body and live.” Both Chinese and Japanese dragons were given the power of air though they were usually wingless.

Today the term "Dragon" is used to symbolize many different things: In international commerce the two "Great Dragons" of the past, Japan and China, and the four "Little Dragons," Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are now terms used to denote a powerful and growing force in world economy. Thailand is also rapidly becoming known as the fifth "Little Dragon."

Dragons are often seen in pursuit of a jewel – either fighting for its possession or grasping it with its claws. Many symbols have been attributed to this jewel by the Japanese and Chinese. One theory is that the dragon, often seen in pairs, are competing for a disc which represents the struggle between the clouds and the sun. We like to think of this jewel as being composed of jade, thus the Jade Dragon.

Dragons are universal to almost all Asian cultures, representing the beneficent, omnipotent and good. Today this is still a popular theme in the Asian world, seen as figurines and decorative elements like dragon figures hanging in life insurance offices for good luck and is now used as a term denoting importance in international commerce. 

Jade dragons are some popular items people think to give as gifts along with sending flowers and having plants delivered.

Together, viewed as a dragon and its jewel, the Jade Dragon represents the concept of our desire to reach for wisdom and understanding in this ever changing world, and more specifically, our unique focus targets the many interesting aspects of Pan Asian cultures.

Join Jade Dragon Online as we embark on our journey into the fascinating world of Asian culture!

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