He Shi Bi | Ancient Chinese Culture

He Shi Bi


He Shi Bi, was perhaps the most legendary and valuable piece of jade in Chinese history.

According to legends, it was discovered by a man called Bian He about 2,680 years ago. When he was cutting firewood on Mount Jing, he found an uncut jade stone and presented it to King Li of Chu and the later to his successor King Wu of Chu. However, he was called a cheat and had both his legs chopped off. Finally, King Wen of Chu came to the throne, moved by Bian he, the King sent his men to cut open the stone. To their astonishment, there was indeed a priceless piece of jade inside. It was made into a jade disc later and was named in honor of its discoverer (He Shi Bi literally means ‘The Jade Disc of He’).

Unfortunately, the treasure was later stolen from Chu and finally sold to Zhao. In 283 BC, ambitious King Zhaoxiang of Qin offered to trade 15 towns and their land for the precious jade (the origin of the Chinese saying of valued in multiple cities). However, when the minister of Zhao found out that the King refused to give up his land, he finally bring back the jade safely with the excuse of pointing out the flaws.

In 221 BC, Qin conquered the other six states and the jade finally came into Qin possession. Under the order of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of China, it was made into his Imperial Seal and had the seal inscribed with the words The Mandate is received from Heaven, May He have Longevity and Prosperity.

However, after passing through several successive dynasties, it was lost to history. No one knows how it was lost. There is no trace for it but only imagination left.

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