A Travellerspoint blog

November 2012

Something About Jade in Hetian

Dushan Jade was being mined as early as 6000 BC, said Wikipedia. That's very old.

View A Thread of Silk on automidori's travel map.

Hetian, August 24th 2012

According to the references I had read prior to my trip, Hetian is about silk as well as jade. Thus, I put Yurungkash River and Jade Factory into my itinerary for Hetian. That planning, was in June, two months before. Now, here's my story. May you still enjoy, although you might find some empty places.

This is Yurungkash River. When the tide is low, people try their luck hunting for jade.

The river crosses the road under a huge bridge.

Beside the river was a jade market. It's quite a big site. But many stalls weren't on business. Maybe it would be busier during winter. If I'm not mistaken, the river's water level is lower in winter and that makes the chance to find jade bigger.

I watched a Chinese tour guide with two guests going down to the river. As they walked along the river, the tour guide explained things. Lucky you, I said to those Chinese guests, but not aloud of course. Where's my tour guide? Somewhere. At the market, the tour guide pointed to the various kinds of jade and gave explanations again.

I Googled up the meaning of the Chinese sentence in English, and Indonesian. Both sounded rather funny. Maybe it's actually a translation from the Arabic script on top. Or maybe, I inserted a wrong character in Google. Anyway, the main point is about competition and fraud. Yes, fraud.

And here's the jade factory, Abdul the Tour Guide from Old Road Tours had taken me to. Here too, for most of the time, he wasn't with me. The workshop was on the second floor. Next to it was a shop selling various products of jade from ear rings to statues.

These are types of raw jadeite stones. A Chinese staff held one stone up and put a flashlight in front of it. The stone glowed in emerald green, as if the flashlight had painted it. Magical. More reference on this from Wikipedia:

Nephrite can be found in a translucent white to very light yellow form which is known in China as mutton fat jade, in an opaque white to very light brown or gray which is known as chicken bone jade, as well as in a variety of green colours.

I was about to leave when a group of French tourists stepped off a bus. I followed them back into the factory with their French speaking Chinese tour guide. She too had much to explain to her guests. Too bad I had left my French in junior high school.

That tour guide stood beside a worker, pointed at some of the tools she used, and said something. My Abdul the Tour Guide said not a word.

What a delicate work of art! I admire these people.

This is the old equipment, only for display. The Chinese staff made a brief demonstration for the French guests. You operate this by stepping on the paddle below. It's similar to operating the conventional sewing machine.

Today they have a tap that constantly drips water to clear off powder from the crafted stone. In the old days, they used this tin to wash the stone. So had the Chinese staff explained, fortunately in English, to his French guest. But when I was here with Abdul the Tour Guide from Old Road Tours, I asked him what was the use of that tin.

"I think it is for..." he said.

Me, "You think?"

"Yes, I think! How can I know for sure? This is an old thing. People don't use this anymore!" Obviously, Abdul the Tour Guide was furious.

Can you believe that came out from a tour guide? Do you agree that a tour guide is never compelled to explain about old things? Aye. I think his company should change their name from "Old Road Tours" to "Modern Road Tours". Moreover, is this what Central Asia Traveler meant by 'knowledgeable'?

Posted by automidori 17:42 Archived in China Tagged market china jade xinjiang hetian old_road_tours abdul_wahab_tours yarkand_river Comments (0)

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