The traditional and the oldest source of Jadeite Jade come from the Hpakan mines located at the Myitkyina District in the Kachin State in Northern Burma (Myanmar). Hpakan is a jade mining town located about 108 miles from Myitkyina, where a small airport makes it accessible by air from Rangoon (Yangon), the capital of Burma.
According to the locals, the word ‘Hpakan’ comes from the Shan language which means, “The place where the wall is chipped off”. The jade mines are encompassed in an estimated area of about 150 square miles between latitudes of 25o and 26o North and longitude 96o E. The tract of the jade mines is enclosed on the east by the Uru river valley and the central portion of the region is occupied by a plateau-like land mass consisting of hill ranges which formed the Uru river water-shed. This is the area where jade occurs in dykes in the sheared zone in the ultramafic rock or as huge boulders beneath the river bed of the various tributaries of the Uru river.
There are 3 seasons in Hpakan, namely, cool, hot and rainy. The cool season lasts from the beginning of December to late February and the hot season from the beginning of March to the middle of May. Temperatures during the hot season can go up to 40 degree C. The rainy weather from mid May can be very damp and floods are common. Annual rainfall ranges between 70 to 80 inches. Even during the hot weather rain still comes in deluge.
The climate of Hpakan is damp, unhealthy or commonly hot. Malaria and beriberi illness are quite common among the mine workers. It is just one of the irony in nature that where valuable gems are found the weather and the terrain are unusually harsh.
Hpakan is the richest source of Jadeite Jade in the world and has produced the finest Imperial Jade for centuries.
Contrary to common belief, there is no Jadeite Jade deposits in China, although the Chinese are the biggest jade buyer.
Another minor source of Jadeite Jade is found in Guatemala in Central America. However, the jadeite jade deposits there are mainly of the opaque, though with vivid green color, and is of the low grade quality suitable only for carving into Mayan masks or other ornamental objects.
Nephrite Jade is found in many places in the world, notably China, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Taiwan and various parts of the world. In Taiwan Nephrite Jade is termed as the Soft Jade, in Canada it is called BC Jade while in New Zealand Nephrite Jade is called Maori Jade.
Look out for more posts on the Jade mines of Hpakan as I have the privilege to get a military permit from the Military Junta to visit the mines as a gemologist.
Filed in: Jadeite Jade