Jade Hunters of China (institutions)
Running through Western China's Kunlun Mountains are veins of jade, a precious stone ranging from dark green to an opaque white color, formed by volcanic activity millennia ago. Jade is so valuable that each year during the summer months men gamble their lives on the chance of hitting the jackpot and unearthing a few profitable slabs. A small bracelet could be worth as much as $12,000.
Jade Hunters of China provides a fascinating insight into the grueling journeys these men make high up into the mountains and witnesses the lengths they are prepared to go to find the lucrative stone.
Every year during the summer, teams of men set off onto a journey thousands of feet up into the mountains, to endure some very dangerous conditions. They literally gamble their lives on the chance of unearthing a chunk of jade.
But there's no guarantee they will find any jade at all. It's a matter of trial and error as the men use basic tools to drill and blast the rock with little in the way of safety protection, until they hit a vein or until the harsh winter months roll in and it's time for them to abandon their mines.
Changeable weather, thin air and unstable mountain-sides are just some of the factors which make the trip so inhospitable and treacherous. The men rely purely on experience and luck. If they are fortunate they will be granted with instant wealth, if they are unlucky all the money invested in their risky trip will be lost.
Jade Hunters of China joins three groups of men who decide to take the gamble and are lured up the mountain in the hope of making a lucrative discovery. It experiences the hardship of the trip and the frustration of set-backs, while witnessing the slow and methodical process of finding the precious stone.
NTSC 4:3; Total Running Time: 50-minutes
Produced by NHNZ for Discovery Channel
(c) 2003 Natural History New Zealand Ltd. and Documentary Department Of Xinjiang Television China - All Rights Reserved
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