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Jade in Iran

part 3


But the ultimate derivation of the Spanish name for jade, and the issue of its supposed powers, bristle with controversy arising from a series of ancient associations of words in the Turkic, Mongol, Iranian, and Sanskrit languages.

Some of the Spaniards who discovered the Native Americans using jade may have been aware of these connections, the Asian names and beliefs, and the medicinal and apotropaic powers already associated with them in Asia. Muslim dynasties had ruled over parts of the Spanish peninsula from the beginning of the 8th century to the end of the 15th century; and European Christian rulers sent their ambassadors, such as Clavijo (d. 1412; q.v.), to the Timurids and the Mongols. Words such as yat, yai, yada/jada /yadeh, jadu, and jadi occur in the context of Turkish and Mongol ceremonies in which a shaman uses stones to induce rain, storms, and the like; the association of yada/jada/jadu with magical powers is illustrated by yada-tash (Turk. magic rain stone, possibly, at least at times, of jade—see below). In all likelihood any envoy to Central Asia would have heard stories about these wondrous practices, as well as jade’s putative medicinal properties for the internal organs, and the similarity between yada and ijada would not have been lost on a Spaniard. In today’s Mongolian folklore (personal communication from an elder jade connoisseur and dealer of Ulan Bator, 2006), jade (hash) is considered most beneficial for the kidneys (bur), and this is probably an extremely ancient belief (for the characterization of hash as Qalmuq and qas as Mongolian, see Pelliot, p. 424; cf. Turk. qash and Pers. yashm/yashb).

An etymological connection between Old Turkic yat and yada/jada and similar-sounding words in modern Western European languages has been ruled out (Clauson, p. 883; cf. Pelliot, p. 424). Moreover, it has been asserted that “the yada or jada stone is a bezoar and has nothing to do with ‘jade’, either with the word or the thing” (Pelliot, p. 424). But this claim does not accord with the literature on the Bezoar-stone (Pers. bazahr), which is a well-documented agent for neutralizing poison, including occasionally poisonous stings (Ruska and Plessner, pp. 1155-56). Nor is it supported by the medieval literature about the weather-influencing properties of the yada-tash, mentioned above. It should be remembered in this context that in Chinese culture as late as Tang times (Schafer, p. 225), it was the emperor, in his role as chief shaman, “who compelled the attendance of the rain-dragons with his wand of green nephrite;” and the awareness in 12th-century eastern Iran of stories revealing the importance in China of the shamans’ role in bringing beneficial rain is well attested by Marvazi (p. 25) and others. The use of qash for jade in Turkish is attested since the 11th century, first by Biruni (p. 198), and later by Kashghari (Kashmari, p. 511). Jade was probably extracted at Kashghar (Kashmar) by this time, but the passage in Kashghari’s Dictionary (of the 1070s) is apparently based on the corresponding one in Biruni’s book, Ketab al-jamaher fi marefat al-jawaher. Biruni uses the terms Qash and Qara Qash for the two rivers of Khotan from which jade was extracted, whereas Kashghari calls them the Urung Qash Okuz and the Qara Qash Okuz.

to be continued ...

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictioary.com

Other Links:

Eastern Iranian Languages: part 1

Eastern Iranian Languages: part 2

Eastern Iranian Languages: part 3

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