Myths about Pearls
By JonJiang

Pearls, symbolizing good fortune, completeness, happiness and wealth. Ancient people did not fully understand the origin of pearls, and therefore left many beautiful legends. These legends are often closely associated with the moon, and some of the poems, such as Li Shangyin's "The mermaid on the sea shed tears in the moonlight." and Bai Juyi's "Dew is like a pearl and the moon is like a bow", are even more deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.

Among these legends, the most widely spread is the story about the Jiao Ren. Legend has it that there are Jiao Ren in the South China Sea, also known as "mermaids". They lived like fish in the sea, and when they cried, their tears became beautiful pearls. It is said that they are also good at weaving a kind of thin as cicada silk. In the legend, the mermaids were originally the maids of Chang'e, who were sentenced to weave silk in the sea because of their mistakes. Whenever the moon is full, they often stand on the reef looking at the moon and shed tears, which turn into pearls.

Another pearl-related legend is about Xi Shi. This story was first popular in Zhuji, Zhejiang Province, known as the home of pearls. According to the legend, the fairy Chang'e, who lived in the moon, possessed a sparkling pearl, which she often played with. One day, Chang'e left the pearl with her maid to guard it, but the pearl rolled off and flew into a woman's mouth. 16 months later, the woman gave birth to a beautiful girl named Xi Shi.

These two legends about pearls reveal that the ancients treasured and loved pearls. In ancient times, pearls were regarded as incomparably precious stones, used as precious beads on the emperor's crown and robe, as well as in the pendants of his consorts. Wearing pearls became a symbol of supremacy and honor, and both royalty and dignitaries were proud of it. However, with the development of technology, pearls are no longer the exclusive property of the privileged, and ordinary people can also own a gemstone of their own.

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