Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Tradition of China — Pendant Accessory

Jade Pendant — Yu Pei

 

Jade Culture is an important, special component in Chinese Culture. 

Since Neolithic, jade articles were believed as a medium to communicate with the deity and heaven, which made jade a significant part in 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 years later, since the Xia (2070 BC — 1600 BC) and Shang Dynasty (1600 BC — 1046 BC), as the representative of honorable 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 type in the history. 

In ancient China, a decent person would always wear something made of jade, except that something severe or sad happened. During that era, jade pendant was more of a presentation of status and noble morals, for both men and women. 

Gradually, jade pendants spread to civilians' world, but still had strict standards among different classes, in regard to shape and size. For example, dragon and phoenix shaped jade articles were strictly and only used in royal families. 

Jade is believed could bring people good luck, and protect its owner from bad things. It is said that jade will be inspirited and could protect the owner, if it has been worn by human for years.

Also, if a  jade accessary, which has been worn by its owner for years, suddenly has a crack or gets broken, this means it had resisted a horrible encounter for its owner already.

Nowadays, jade decorations are still quite popular in China. However, jade made bracelet, ring and necklace 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 important amulet for kids for thousands years in China. People believe that the Chang Ming Suo can lock the kid’s life and souls inside, so that it can protect them from the evils 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.  

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 having 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 is consisted of a series 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 firstly 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 with good manner, the sound of her Jin Bu would be quite 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

Since Shang (1600 BC — 1046 BC) and Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC — 256 BC), using of the sachet (Xiang Nang) appeared in noble class. 

People put flower and herb with their favorite fragrance in an exquisite bag, and worn it on one’s waist, hung on bed or carriage.

Centuries later, sachet, the Xiang Nang, became popular among all people. More 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, 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, in which 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 originally made of furs, and gradually replaced by other types of fabrics. Meanwhile, exquisite embroideries, include lucky patterns, poems, auspicious words, were added on He Bao. 

However, use color, material and pattern still followed strict hierarchy.

In the history, He Bao was a good gift to express affection of a woman, by giving a handmade He Bao to her beloved one. Now, it is more used as decoration.