Chinese Pendant Accessories
Jade Pendant — Yu Pei
Jade Culture is an important, unique component of Chinese Culture.
Since the Neolithic, jade articles were believed to be a medium to communicate with the deity and heaven, making jade a significant part of grand worship ceremonies in ancient cultures like Hongshan, Yangshao, Liangzhu, Longshan, etc.
Unearthed Jade Dragon of the Hongshan Culture (Around 4000 BC — 3000 BC) — National Museum of China
Thousands of years later, since the Xia (2070 BC — 1600 BC) and Shang Dynasty (1600 BC — 1046 BC), as the representative of good morals and etiquettes, such as gentleness, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, integrity, and loyalty, etc., jade articles were widely worn by noble classes, and the jade pendant was one of the most popular types in the history.
In ancient China, a decent person would always wear something made of jade, except if something severe or sad happened. During that era, the jade pendant was more of a presentation of status and noble morals for both men and women.
Gradually, jade pendants spread to the civilian world but still had strict standards among different classes regarding shape and size. For example, dragon and phoenix-shaped jade articles were strictly and only used in royal families.
Jade is believed to bring people good luck and protect its owner from bad things. It is said that jade will be inspirited and could save the owner if humans have worn it for years.
Also, if a jade accessory, which its owner has worn for years, suddenly has a crack or gets broken, it means it has already resisted a horrible encounter for its owner.
Nowadays, jade decorations are still quite popular in China. However, jade-made bracelets, rings, and necklaces are much more prevalent than pendants.
Longevity Lock — Chang Ming Suo
"Chang Ming" means Longevity in Chinese, and "Suo" is the lock.
It has been an essential amulet for kids for thousands of years in China. People believe the Chang Ming Suo can lock the kids' lives and souls inside to protect them from evil and bad luck.
Hence, Chang Ming Suo, the Longevity Lock, is usually made of valuable materials, like silver, gold, and jade, with lucky words and patterns carved on it.
Though with slight differences because of geography, the lock is usually given by a newborn's close relatives from older generations on a chosen day of a baby's Birth Celebration.
When the kid safely grows up to 12 years old, the Longevity Lock would be considered to have finished its "mission" and is allowed to be put away.
Until today, an exquisite Chang Ming Suo is still one of the most popular gifts in China for a newborn.
Decoration of Clothes — Jin Bu
Jin Bu consists of strings of jade, silver, or gold accessories; it is worn on one's waist, usually by women, to press the hemline.
When Jin Bu first appeared thousands of years ago, it was only worn by the nobles.
If someone wearing it behaves in discourtesy, like walking too fast, the loud sound of Jin Bu could be a reminder of manner and elegance.
If one behaves well, the sound of her Jin Bu would be pretty melodic and pleasant.
Gradually, Jin Bu became more of a beautiful decoration for women from all classes and was no longer a measurement of women's etiquette and elegance. Hence, more materials were included to make a Jin Bu.
Sachet — Xiang Nang
People put flowers and herbs with their favorite fragrances in an exquisite bag and wear them on one’s waist, hung on the bed or carriage.
Centuries later, the sachet, or Xiang Nang, became popular. Materials like jade, gold, silver, or fabric with fancy embroidery were applied.
Meanwhile, more formulas to produce fragrance, or to prevent and cure certain diseases, were spread in the next millenniums.
As an important personal necessity, the sachet was a Keepsake of Love in Chinese culture. In ancient times, women usually would make a sachet with exquisite embroidery and give it to their beloved ones.
Nowadays, the sachet is still popular, which could be hung in one’s car or room as a beautiful and fragrant pendant decoration.
Fancy Hanging Bag — He Bao
He Bao is a pouch that can be hung on one’s waist, where people can put small or important things, like coins or seals.
It originated around the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC — 403 BC) and became popular a few hundred years later.
The pouch He Bao was initially made of furs and was gradually replaced by other fabrics. Meanwhile, exquisite embroideries, including lucky patterns, poems, and encouraging words, were added to He Bao.
However, the use of color, material, and pattern still followed the strict hierarchy.
In history, He Bao was an excellent gift to express a woman's affection by giving a handmade He Bao to her beloved one. Now, it is used more as decoration.