玉，美石为玉，石头的精华。玉不仅仅是石头，由它引申出来的玉文化是中华传统文化非常重要的一部分。玉的价值体现在它的hardnessdurabilitymusical qualities and beauty.
玉石由多种颜色，但是在中国一般认为白色的羊脂玉（white "mutton-fat" nephrite）最为珍贵和称颂。
Chinese jade refers to the jade mined or carved in China from the Neolithic onward. It is the primary hardstone of Chinese sculpture. Although deep and bright green jadeite is better known in Europe, for most of China's history, jade has come in a variety of colors and white "mutton-fat" nephrite was the most highly praised and prized. Native sources in Henan and along the Yangtze were exploited since prehistoric times and have largely been exhausted; most Chinese jade today is extracted from the northwestern province of Xinjiang.
Jade was prized for its hardness, durability, musical qualities, and beauty. In particular, its subtle, translucent colors and protective qualities caused it to become associated with Chinese conceptions of the soul and immortality. The most prominent early use was the crafting of the Six Ritual Jades, found since the 3rd-millennium bc Liangzhu culture: the bi, the cong, the huang, the hu, the gui, and the zhang. Although these items are so ancient that their original meaning is uncertain, by the time of the composition of the Rites of Zhou, they were thought to represent the sky, the earth, and the four directions. By the Han dynasty, the royal family and prominent lords were buried entirely ensheathed in jade burial suits sewn in gold thread, on the idea that it would preserve the body and the souls attached to it. Jade was also thought to combat fatigue in the living. The Han also greatly improved prior artistic treatment of jade.
These uses gave way after the Three Kingdoms period to Buddhist practices and new developments in Taoism such as alchemy. Nonetheless, jade remained part of traditional Chinese medicine and an important artistic medium. Although its use never became widespread in Japan, jade became important to the art of Korea and Southeast Asia.
Gallery of Chinese Jades