"WUSHI CARD" pendant
The significance of jadeite carvings—An introduction to the smooth pendant
Smooth (as known wushi card) pendants have their origins in the late Ming dynasty and were originally termed “undecorated pendants”, alluding to their plain, uncarved appearance. Later on, these uncarved pendants were also referred to as “smooth pendants”— in Mandarin Chinese, the word smooth may be used to connote smooth-sailing. At the same time, they are also termed “wishing pendants”, as their uncarved appearance reminds us that just as plans and thoughts are not concrete until they are put into action, so are our dreams and wishes.
Jadeite used in the making of the smooth pendant is of high quality—it must be intact and unflawed. Within the jadeite industry, there is a saying that goes first bangle, second round (concentric or safety) buttons, third smooth pendant. This is because in the past, the heart of the jadeite stone, which is most complete and unmarred by flaws, would oftentimes be used in the making of bangles. Afterward, round buttons, smooth pendants, and cabochons of collectible value would then be cut from the unused heart of these bangles.
Smooth pendants can come in many forms, most commonly in rectangular, square , round, and conical shaped forms.
Smooth pendants were initially coffin-shaped – in Mandarin Chinese, coffin bears an abbreviated resemblance to the phrase to rise in rank and fortune. Legend goes that in ancient times, when students had to travel to the capital to take the academic examinations, parents wished academic success upon their child yet worried about their safety. Family elders would hence gift the student a smooth coffin-shaped pendant before he embarked on his long journey to represent their wishes for the student’s academic success, an uneventful journey, and to return home safe and sound.
In addition, the coffin shape is also meant to protect the wearer from evils. The shape of the coffin resembles a shield, and is similar to how ancient Roman warriors would keep red rubies on their person to ward off bloodshed and harm at the warfront.
Later on, the smooth pendant took on newer round, square, and rectangular forms, with the most common being the rectangular form. Also commonly seen in fengshui pendants, rectangles signify smooth-sailing and peaceful.
It is worth noting that due to increased mining and political interference, the jadeite industry is seeing an inflationary trend in raw jadeite stones in contemporary times. Many jadeite bangles on the market are now also cut from material close to the surface of the jadeite stone, which are usually of lesser quality. As a result, the saying “first bangle, second round (concentric or safety) buttons, third smooth pendant” is more appropriately applied to raw jadeite of higher quality.
Disclaimer: There are different schools of thought and sources of knowledge in the lore of crystals, coloured gemstones and jadeite. Every article here is a culmination of the knowledge and practical experience I have gained since I entered this field more than 20 years ago. This article does not differentiate the good and the bad. Rather, it aims to share my professional knowledge and experience, as well as my personal insights into this magical world.