Asia’s Gemstone: Jade

Jade

Yesterday my colleagues and I were having an interesting conversation about the “Feng Shui Trail” on Sentosa Island which features one of the largest Jadeites in Singapore.  This led to an insightful discussion on the significance of Jade, an ornamental stone, commonly worn as jewelry in Asia.

Jade

Jade is very fascinating and has much mystique surrounding it.  Known to be a “living” stone because it is said to turn greener when worn by a person, according to Chinese superstition, how green the stone appears depends on how much it “likes” you.

Following that notion, Jade is also thought to absorb the feelings of its owner and if the previous owner had a lot of “negative energy”, it would be transferred to the new owner. This is why when buying the gemstone, it is important to go to a feng shui or fortune master to get a reading.  They will then prescribe the appropriate pieces to suite your personality.

Jade is also believed to ward off evil. One story holds that if you were to have a fall, the Jade would crack, absorbing the injury you would have sustained from the fall.  Furthermore, it is believed to ward off bad dreams and to bring good luck in games of chance.

The word “Jade” in Chinese is written as 玉 (yu), but did you know it is actually two different stones?  In Chinese it is given two separate names.  The first,  硬玉 (ying yu) or “hard Jade” is the term for Jadeite and 軟玉 (ruan yu), meaning “soft Jade” describes nephrite or the common Jade you would find in most Chinese stores.  As you might have guessed, Jadeite is the more refined and exclusive of the two.  One key differentiation is the color.  Nephrite  is usually dark green or grey-green in color.  Jadeite on the other hand shows more color variations, including yellow, lavender-mauve, pink and emerald-green.

Next time you are travelling to Singapore, be sure to stop by the Merlion Plaza on Sentosa Island where the giant Jadeite is located.  You can also visit some of the Feng Shui Masters for more insight into the properties of Jade.  Your Capella Singapore Personal Assistants would be more than happy to recommend a few good stores.

Emily Of Emerald Hill At The Peranakan Museum

peranakan museum

Earlier this month, the Peranakan Museum was having a very special exhibition on Emily of Emerald Hill, an iconic Singaporean play written in 1982 by local playwright Stella Kon.  Emily of Emerald Hill has been performed numerous times in Singapore as well as other parts of the world such as Malaysia, Hawaii and even Edinburgh!  It is considered one of the regions greatest literary works.

peranakan museum

Paying tribute to the symbolic play, the Emily of Emerald Hill Exhibition at the Peranakan Museum showcased the different interpretations of the play through the costumes, props, scripts, photographs and videos.

Emily of Emerald Hill follows the life of a young Peranakan bride, Emily Gan who marries into a rich matriarchal family on Emerald Hill.  What is interesting about the play is that it is a one-woman play narrated by Emily as she recounts the challenges and experiences from her past.

Emily of Emerald Hill is touted as a symbol of Singaporean Identity and one of Singapore’s most iconic plays because of how closely it follows and preserves the Peranakan culture.  The Peranakans were born from the early Chinese immigrants to the British Malaya, now known as Singapore and Malaysia.  Many of them were traders, the middle people between the British and the Chinese and they grew to be among the wealthiest group in the early 20th century.

The Peranakan culture is interesting because of the integration of both Western and local culture.  As such, while they mostly spoke English, hints of Malay and dialect would be present as part of their speech.  The Peranakan also continued to practice many of the Chinese beliefs, which are depicted throughout the play.  True to the story of Emily, Peranakan Families are very matriarchal, because the women would run the household while the men were off to work to earn money to support the family.  Peranakan women were known to be extremely capable, not just in cooking but also in intricate handicrafts.

The next time you visit Singapore, I would definitely recommend a visit to the Peranakan Museum where you will be able to experience first hand the exotic Peranakan culture.  Please talk to your Capella Singapore Personal Assistant, who will be happy to help with planning your visit!

Here is a video excerpt of the play Emily of Emerald Hill:

 

Photo via The Peranakan Museum.

The Legend Of Tequila

Celso Flores El Jimador

There are as many legends of Mexico as there are Mexicans and lovers of this beautiful and rich country.  There is one legend though, that Capella Pedregal’s sommelier Ernesto Mendoza loves to share the most: the legend of tequila.

Celso Flores El Jimador

During a recent tour of the Capella Pedregal wine cave and spirit room, Ernesto shared the story with me:

Many centuries ago, there was a big thunderstorm in Mexico and a lightning bolt hit an agave field, completely destroying the plants.  Once the storm had passed, the farmers went to survey the damage.  They discovered a syrupy liquid remaining at the core of the plants.  One of the farmers tasted it, and finding it sweet, decided to collect the liquid from the plants’ charred remains.

Time passed and the farmer went to check out his agave liquid stash.  Foam had formed atop the liquid, which the farmer discarded.  He then tasted the fluid again and discovered it now possessed a richer and stronger flavor.  The farmer found it so delicious that he drank some more.

Legend says it changed his personality, which led others to believe that it was a gift from the goddess Mayahuel, a symbol of ancient fertility and drunkenness.  This drink was then reserved for the lords and priests for use in different religious events and festivities.  As the drink grew in popularity it began to be known as Tequila, the town where this gift was first bestowed.

Don’t you just like this legend of tequila?  I have already marked my calendar for my next meeting with Ernesto, on which he promises to explain me all about the tequila varieties and other important elements of savoring this popular Mexican drink.

 

“El Jimador” – a man at the agave field: by Celso Flores via Flickr

La Leyenda Del Tequila

Celso Flores El Jimador

Hay tantas leyendas en México como mexicanos y amantes de este hermoso y rico país. Sin embargo, hay una leyenda que le encanta compartir a el sommelier de Capella Pedregal Ernesto Mendoza: la leyenda del Tequila.

Celso Flores El Jimador

Durante un reciente tour por la cava de vinos de Capella Pedregal, Ernesto compartió la historia conmigo:

Hace muchos siglos, hubo una gran tormenta eléctrica en México y un rayo cayó en un campo de agaves, destruyendo completamente las plantas. Una vez que cesó la tormenta, los campesinos fueron a hacer recuento de los daños. Descubrieron un liquido tipo jarabe en los restos del núcleo de las plantas. Uno de los campesinos lo probó, y lo encontró dulce, decidiendo recolectar el líquido de los restos carbonizados de las plantas.

El tiempo pasó y el campesino fue a checar su reserva de agave líquido. Sobre el líquido se había formado una capa de espuma, la cual el campesino desecho. De nuevo probó el líquido y se dio cuenta que ahora tenía un sabor aún más rico y fuerte. Lo encontró tan rico que bebió un poco más.

La leyenda dice que le cambió la personalidad, lo cual hizo que otros comenzaran a pensar que esta bebida era un regalo de la diosa Mayahuel, un símbolo de milenaria fertilidad y embriaguez. Esta bebida fue entonces reservada para la nobleza, los sacerdotes, y para su uso en diferentes eventos y celebraciones. Al aumentar la popularidad de la bebida, se le fue conociendo como Tequila, el mismo nombre de el pueblo donde este regalo fue otorgado.

No te encanta esta leyenda? Ya marqué en mi calendario mi próxima reunión con Ernesto, en la cual prometió explicarme todo sobre las variedades de Tequila y otros importantes elementos necesarios para saborear esta popular bebida Mexicana.

 

“El Jimador” – a man at the agave field: by Celso Flores via Flickr

Taxco, Mexico: A Silver Town

Taxco

Taxco is a lovely small town 3 hours away from Capella Ixtapa, located in the hills between Acapulco and Mexico City.  It has retained its natural charm and colonial ambiance, characterized by red-tiled roofs, cobble-stoned streets and the impressive 240-year-old Santa Prisca Cathedral.  I love to wonder the streets and explore the city, but the strongest feature that attracts me to Taxco is its silver history.

Taxco_3486

The colonial city was founded in 1529, and in 1531 the first Spanish mine in North America was founded.  According to legend, Don José de la Borda arrived to town on a horse in 1716 from France at the age of 16, when his horse stumbled, dislodged a stone and exposed silver.  After amassing a silver fortune, Borda built The Templo de Santa Prisca as a gift to Taxco.  The church can be seen from all over Taxco.  I love to sit at one of the lovely cafes or restaurant terraces to admire it as it glitters in the sunlight.

Taxco

During Mexico’s Independence Fight, the Spanish barons destroyed the mines rather than lose them.  With most of the silver gone, Taxco became a quiet town with a dwindling population and economy.  That changed in 1929, when an American architect William Spratling arrived and set up a silver workshop as a way to rejuvenate the town.  Spratling motivated the community artisans to create designs and rediscover the silversmith tradition.  The workshop evolved into a factory, and Spratling’s apprentices began establishing their own shops.  Today, Taxco is home to hundreds of silver shops, which I love to explore!

Every November, Taxco organizes the world famous Silver Fair, when craftsmen, artists and silversmiths show their work and a national prize is awarded to the best silver artist.  This is a particularly impressive event and a time of true artistry!

When in Taxco you may want to visit also the Spratling Museum, the Museo Virreynal de Taxco, The Old Arches and of course the Santa Prisca Cathedral.  Ask your Capella Ixtapa’s Personal Assistant to organize a visit for you!

Taxco, Mexico: Una Ciudad De Plata

Photo by Flickr user Dennis Elliott.

Taxco es una pequeña y hermosa ciudad a 3 horas de distancia de Capella Ixtapa, ubicada en las montañas entre Acapulco y México D.F.. Taxco ha sabido conservar su ambiente colonial y encanto natural, caracterizado por sus techos de teja roja, calles empedradas y la majestuosa Catedral de Santa Prisca con más de 240 años de antigüedad. Me encanta perderme en sus calles y explorar la ciudad, pero la mayor atracción para mí de Taxco es su historia con la plata.

Taxco_3486La ciudad colonial fue fundada en 1529, en 1531 se abrió aquí la primer mina en Norteamérica. De acuerdo a la leyenda, Don José de la Borda (que llegó de Francia en 1716) montaba su caballo y este sin querer descubrió yacimientos de plata al golpear las rocas con los cascos. Tras amasar gran fortuna, Borda construyó la Catedral de Santa Prisca como regalo para Taxco. La iglesia se puede admirar desde cualquier punto de Taxco. Me encanta sentarme en una de las terrazas de cafés o restaurantes a admirar como brilla con la luz del sol.

TaxcoDurante la guerra de Independencia, los españoles destruyeron las minas para no perderlas. Con la mayoría de la plata ausente, Taxco se volvió un pueblo tranquilo con una población y economía bastante mermada. Esto cambió para 1929, cuando el arquitecto americano William Spratling estableció un taller de plata como medio para reactivar el pueblo. Spratling motivó a la comunidad de artesanos a crear nuevos diseños y redescubrir la tradición del trabajo de la plata. El taller evolucionó en una fábrica, y los aprendices de Spratling comenzaron a establecer sus propios talleres. Hoy día, Taxco es hogar de cientos de tiendas y talleres de plata los cuales me encanta explorar!

Cada Noviembre, Taxco organiza la mundialmente famosa Feria de la Plata, donde artesanos, plateros y artistas muestran su trabajo y un premio nacional se otorga al mejor artista. Este es un evento muy especial y lleno de verdadero arte!

Cuando estés en Taxco visita también el museo Spratling, el Museo Virreinal de Taxco, Los Arcos y por supuesto la Catedral de Santa Prisca. Pregunta a tu Asistente Personal de Capella Ixtapa que organice una visita para ti!