years, even if it is said very quickly, is a pretty long stretch of
time. Where, as in China, early mating is the rule, it means the coming
and going out of some one hundred and sixty generations of men during
that time. Has any other nation of any time for three thousand years
clung so tenaciously, and one might say so exclusively, to a single
fashion in jewels?
than three thousand years, if the caravans even at that distant date
were already in full spate over the mountains. It takes a long time to
work up a market, a great market, for any given commodity. Hence it
follows that the fashion in Jade and the consequent demand for it go
back a long time beyond the span of three thousand years of which the
records tell us.
if the market existed, then there must also have been craftsmen at that
distant time who understood and loved Jade, knowing its virtues and
shortcomings as men must when they work with precious stones—know them
better than the bad and the good in their own natures.
the case of Chinese Jade (a silicate of chalk and magnesium), which is
only somewhat less hard than the diamond, hardest of all stones, the
cutting, polishing and carving present great difficulties of
craftsmanship. Yet more than three thousand years ago these Chinese gem
cutters were already familiar with methods which enabled them to
fashion this most recalcitrant mineral into objects of exquisite beauty
and supreme artistic merit. When, how and by whom, we may well ask,
were those methods first discovered?