Pearl, as a gemstone, got the fame of “The Beauty Of The East” in ancient China, it has long been regarded as the most precious treasures. China is one of the earliest countries to use pearls in the world, it can be dating back to 4,000 years ago, a book named “Shangshu Yugong”, it said that mussels can produce pearls. Pearls symbolize the authority and dignity, mainly used on the crown of the emperor and the pendants & hairpins of queen.
With the good wishes and imagination, Chinese people had created lots of beautiful legends and myths of pearls. Moreover, pearls also make contribution to the profound Chinese cultural heritage.
Legend 1: Pearl with Dragon
One early Chinese myth related that pearls fell from the sky when dragons fought amongst the clouds. Another myth states that pearls originated as raindrops swallowed by oysters. In one ancient tale, a boy found a miraculous pearl. When placed in a jar with just a bit of rice, it filled the jar with rice the next day. After his neighbors discovered this, they tried to steal it. The boy swallowed the pearl to protect it. As a result, he became a dragon.
Legend 2: The Tear of the Shark Girl
In China, there are some legends that pearls come from tears. The most famous one is “the tears of the shark girl”. It is said that in the South China Sea, there are female chimaeras. They are good at weaving a kind of thin silk, which is as thin as cicada wings and as slippery as cream. She was the servant of Chang’e, the goddess of the moon. She was punished by Chang’e to weave gauze in the sea for doing something wrong. It is said that every night when the moon is full, they often stand on the rocks and look at the moon from afar. They are sad and shed tears. The tears they shed are pearls.
Legend 3: Pearl with religion
Peals are always the symbol of beauty in the legend of both Eastern or Western. What’s more, it also has a high status in Chinese Buddhism, regarded as one of the seven treasure of Buddhism.
In Chinese Buddhism, due to only pearls is a gemstone from a living animal, it can connected with the Buddha in the future and the Buddha in the past. Moreover, it can helps people go to the paradise after died, which is a happiest place for people live that made of gold, silver, pearls, and other gemstones.
Legend 4: Marquis of Sui’s Pearl ( Chinese Suihouzhu)
In ancient China, there are two precious that royals always fight for: “He Shi Bi or Mr. He’s Jade” and “Marquis of Sui’s Pearl”. The Marquis of Sui's pearl was a famous gemstone in a Warring States period (475-221 BCE) folktale about a ruler of Sui state who was given an amazing luminous pearl by a grateful snake whose life he had saved.
It tells that, when the ruler of Sui inspected the situation of Zhashui, he found out a giant python got injured and almost was dying. Therefore, he made a big effort to cure the giant python. After healed from its injury, the giant python went around Sui’s carriage three time and left.
One year later, when the ruler of Sui came back Zhashui, he dreamed that the snake became a teenager and want to send him the pearl of its crown as gift for saving it’s life. There was a high quality pearl shown on his bed when he woke up, which surprised him so much, thus, he carried the pearl in his whole life.
This story tells us “Gratitude”. Thus, in ancient China, pearls are not only the symbol of love & beauty, they also symbolize people who have good human qualities. The pearl possesses the brilliance of humanity.