Some of the earliest ornaments in the world are Chinese. Agate has been known to the Chinese as “ma nao” since at least the second century AD. When the feared general Cao Cao, the hero in The Romance of The Three Kingdoms, received an agate wine container as a gift, he wrote a poem referring to the material as “horse brain.” For Chinese people, agate symbolizes longevity and is said to elevate the mood, giving people confidence. In traditional Chinese medicine it was used to treat eye ailments by placing it on the eye area. Rubbing it on the skin is said to soften the skin.
Adding further mystique to the notion that agates have a connection to the brain, agates are used by seers or prophets to aid in their fortune telling, because the patterns resemble the third eye. The third eye (also known as the celestial eye) is situated in the center of the human brain and known to modern medicine as the Pineal body. Cultivators and mystics can see other time-spaces if their third eye opens. Thus in the ancient world, such agates are believed to enhance the wearer’s intuition and seeing powers.