ANN/CHINA DAILY – On the east bank of Chaohu, China’s fifth-largest freshwater lake, rests a mysterious ancient “kingdom” of jade called Lingjiatan.
When the remains of this site were discovered 30 years ago, the world was left astonished and fascinated by its antiquity and craftsmanship.
Located in Ma’anshan city in East China’s Anhui province, Lingjiatan is a heritage site dating back some 5,300 to 5,800 years.
So far, more than 1,200 exquisite jade wares have been unearthed from the site.
In Chinese culture, jade plays a significant role and has been long deemed an essential symbol of harmony.
Phrases like “replace weapons of war with gifts of jade and silk” and “gentle as jade” perfectly exemplify what jade symbolises in the minds of Chinese people.
Taiping village, 40 kilometres north of Lingjiatan, has a volunteer team called ‘Taiping Women’.
The team was founded by Wang Zilian, 61, and its name signifies women who promote peace and harmony. Whenever any villager needs help, Wang and her teammates serve as the first responders.
“When I was young, my parents taught me to be kind to others,” Wang said, explaining that the idea of Taiping Women germinated some 20 years ago.
As many youngsters left the village for big cities to work as migrant workers, women, children and the elderly were left behind.
Wang organised all the housewives who stayed behind and started the first support group for such women in Taiping Village.
Group members would make every effort to assist one another and solve problems.
“Rural areas have been developing at a rapid pace in recent years, and as a result, many of the migrant workers have returned to their homes. So, we turned the support group into a volunteer team which currently has 20 members,” Wang said.
The volunteers not only take care of the aged and look after children but also mediate conflicts, Wang noted, adding that if quarrels, fights, or any other disputes occur, Taiping Women will be there to help resolve such issues.
“We have also helped teenagers in need of psychological consultation, and disabled villagers requiring care and support,” she said.
“We do this because we want our life, family and neighbourhood to be harmonious, and free from fights and conflict.”
The efforts of Taiping Women are consistent with the traditional Chinese philosophy of ‘benevolence’ and ‘good neighbourliness’.
“That’s how the excellent Chinese culture has been inherited and fostered by Chinese people over generations,” said curator of Hanshan Museum in Hanshan county of Ma’anshan city Sun Liangfeng.
“Take a look at the exquisite spoon, the vivid flying falcon, and the beautiful female figurine. All of these were created with excellent craftsmanship,” said Sun, who is an expert on Lingjiatan’s jade relics.
Holding the replica of the ‘Bi’ jade ware, Sun pointed out that the concentric shape of Bi is one of the sources of inspiration for the design of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics medals.
“Through the image of Bi, the designer has expressed the pursuit of harmony between nature and humanity,” Sun said, adding that it also calls for fostering peace and love all over the world.
“A family, a village needs harmony, so does a country and the entire world. Conflict should be shelved and peace must be pursued,” Sun said.
“The ancient philosophy of harmony is still relevant today.”