Detail of traditional Chinese roof with small ornamental figures
Colour,  Sunday Stills,  Themed galleries

Gallery: never jaded by jade

A speck on a jade stone won’t obscure its radiance

Chinese proverb

Jade is associated with calmness, balance, healing and protection. The stone is especially prized by the Chinese. For them it symbolises prosperity, success, and good luck. It is also a symbol of renewal, longevity, and even immortality. Jade is said to be a living stone, from the earth but with a luminous quality shared with sunlight and the stars. It is thus a connection between the realms of heaven and earth.

For my feature photo therefore I’ve chosen a shot of a roof at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The three small statuettes are ‘walking beasts’, used to denote official buildings such as temples and palaces. The more figures a building has the more important it is, to a maximum of nine. As this is a detail please don’t assume this is an unimportant three walking beast building!

When we think of the colour jade we think inevitably of a certain shade of green; odd perhaps, as the stone also comes in red, white, brown, lavender, purple, and orange.

But this is Terri’s Sunday Stills colour challenge, so it is the colour we call ‘jade’ that I will focus on in my selection of shots. From deep waters to delicately shaded leaves; from ornamental roofs to living creatures. As I searched my archives I realised that I have seen this shade in many places and many forms all over the world. Let’s start with water …


Green sea and large rock stacks

The calm waters of Halong Bay, Vietnam

Deep green lake surrounded by mountains

Diablo Lake in the North Cascades, Washington State

Looking down at a green lake encircled by mountains

The crater lake of Quilotoa in Ecuador

Aerial view of green river channels and brown patches of land

Flying over the waters of the Ria Formosa estuary near Faro in Portugal’s Algarve region


Roof timbers painted in pale green with intricate details

Roof detail of the Hamhung Bongung, a rare bit of history in North Korea

Bas relief writhing dragons on a green tiled wall

Detail of the Nine Dragon Screen in Bei Hai Park, Beijing

Detail of green tiled church roof

The roof of the Russian Orthodox church, Sveti Nikolay Mirlikiiski, in Sofia, Bulgaria; it is dedicated to St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker

Dome-like protrusion on a green roof

Detail of a building in the Earthship complex near Taos in New Mexico, built to use natural resources, such as sunlight and rain, and turn them into clean energy

Old fashioned US mailbox painted pale green

A mailbox outside a house in Cape May, New Jersey

The natural world

Green caterpillar on a leaf

Caterpillar in the garden of our hotel near Machu Picchu

Pale green prickly leaves

Sea holly on Ilha Farol, near Faro in Portugal

Close up of pale green cactus

A cactus in a courtyard garden in Monopoli, Italy

Close-up of pale green fan-shaped leaves

Travellers’ Palm in the grounds of Fort Khimsar, a hotel in Rajasthan

I finish though with an image that illustrates my earlier point that the stone known as jade comes in many shades.

Counter in a market with different sized and coloured elephant carvings

Jade elephants for sale in the Central Market in Phnom Penh


  • Kirstin

    Those are beautiful. I live in washington and have heard of diablo lake but haven’t been there. I should put it on my list of places to see.

  • SoyBend

    I liked the carved figures in your first shot (and the dragon later), close ups of plants, and Diablo Lake pictures, Sarah! Isn’t the color of Diablo’s water unbelievable?!

  • wetanddustyroads

    Halong Bay – one day is one day, I hope … it’s such a beautiful view! Oh, and the cactus – we have plenty of them in pots and I love looking at them early in the morning sun, all shiny with dew on them! You have indeed so many jade coloured photo’s (and I’m sure there must be many more) 😉.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Halong Bay is beautiful even though we didn’t have great weather there. I wonder if on sunnier days the sea would be a different colour? So your cacti must grow out of doors – here people who keep them must do so inside 😀

      • wetanddustyroads

        Yes, we have at least 20 pots of different cacti & succulents outside … in summer time, we give them regularly water, but in winter they doing just fine with the amount of rain we get (sometimes I must empty their trays), but it seems they love the weather here all year round!

      • Christie

        I know Sarah, you are actually an inspiration!
        My bad, a pang of jealousy on my side, as I am stuck with work here😁 You know the feeling when you have itchy feet, but you can’t go🙂 not yet LOL
        Have a lovely day!!

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Oh yes, I know that feeling – although even when I was working my leave allowance was pretty generous and we managed a couple of trips a year 🙂 You’re in Canada, right? How much time do workers there typically get off? I know that in the US it’s far lower than the European norm but I have no idea what yours would be like.

          • Christie

            2 weeks is the minimum vacation per year as a starter in Canada, and small businesses will resume to that. Bigger companies will increase based on seniority, up to 4 to 5 weeks/yr, but the trend is no longer what it used to be, generally speaking for all other benefits. I got a hit on my leave allowance 4 years ago, when I changed my job, and from 5 weeks vacation I started all over with 2 weeks😁 It is what it is, I’m feeding my hunger on wp😊
            Happy Friday, and have a lovely weekend!!

          • Sarah Wilkie

            Oh dear – here it tends to be a lot better, with four weeks quite usual for a new employee, going up to five weeks or even more. When I worked in the public sector I was able to carry my years of employment across from job to job so by the time I finished I was getting almost six weeks’ leave a year 🙂
            Have a great weekend too!

  • Wind Kisses

    Love your beginning of your post when you say jade is associated with calm, balance. Photos really depict that. I always enjoy seeing all the places you have traveled. I have to say the most interesting was the sky view of Faro. Jade rally does bring light where ever it’s presence. Donna

  • Amy

    Wonderful Jade gallery, such a beautiful color. Enjoy seeing the jade color in nature, carvings, and architecture around the world.
    Thank you for sharing with us, Sarah!

  • RosalieAnn Beasley

    I was thinking that you had visited the Jade Museum in Costa Rica for this piece We visited here on both trips – I remember how tactual but non-sparkly jade is

    • Sarah Wilkie

      No, we didn’t go there – is it in San Jose? We didn’t spend any time there – with only two weeks to see the country we had to be a bit selective!

      • RosalieAnn Beasley

        So many people short cut San Jose as if the only thing to see in Costa Rica is the animals. And the animals are amazing of course and the many different kinds of rain forests. But San Jose has two wonderful museums – the Jade Museum is one and the Gold Museum.

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Yes, I’d heard it had good museums. But as I said, we only had two weeks. We prefer to be able to spend at least a few days in each place we visit rather than try to fit a whole country into a fortnight, so sometimes things have to be left out 🙁

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    I hadn’t realized jade came in such a variety of colors, Sarah. But it seems to be widely recognized by its milky-white green as depicted in most of your fabulous images! I enjoyed your world-wide tour of how the color jade seems to be everywhere, both in nature and in architecture and jewelry. I love the idea of the jade walking beasts guarding the buildings (like gargoyles), and oh, is that caterpillar amazing! Well-captured! The figures in the last image simply glow. I see why this is a popular mineral, a living stone as you describe.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Terri 😊 This was a fun theme – I like the way you come up with different variations of colours to challenge us with, rather than just ‘green’ 🙂 I love the Chinese walking beasts too, and if you read up about them you’ll find there’s a really detailed story to them. Each one carries a particular meaning in addition to the number being significant.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Always interesting to get feedback about favourites – thank you. I love elephants but managed to resist buying even a tiny one of these, amazingly 😆

        • Sarah Wilkie

          I would have chosen the pale green one on the far left 🙂 But this was only the second day of our trip and I tend not to shop at the start. Instead I bought a carved wooden elephant in Luang Prabang a week or so later 🙂

  • maristravels

    You certainly show us the many shades of green jade, and in some lovely images too. I once visited a jade factory in Myanmar, in a village just over the border from Thailand (we were on a day visit) and it was such a shock. It employed quite young children working with antiquated machinery and using machines that looked hazardous in the extreme. Everything was covered in dust, no one wore masks, nor did anyone even have shoes, not from choice but from poverty. Jade was reasonably cheap in that area but I didn’t have the heart to buy any.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Oh no, I would have been put off buying too, I am sure. We can’t really give our support to a place like that but I suspect many tourists will, lured by the cheap prices and turning a blind eye to the conditions in the factory. Travellers really do need to ‘vote with their feet’ when it comes to issues such as child exploitation and animal cruelty.

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