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A Story From: China
Read Time: ["16 to 20mins"]
For Ages: 8 to 10yrs., 12 to 14yrs.

A messenger from a weaker state is at the mercy of a stronger neighbor.
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Retold by Elaine L. Lindy. ©2006.  All rights reserved.

"The Most Wonderful Jade Treasure" from Wonder Tales from China Seas by Frances Jenkins Olcott (Longmans, Green & Col, Toronto, 1925), pp.131-135.

"The Wonderful Jade Treasure" from The Ch'lin-lin Purse: A Collection of Ancient Chinese Sories, retold by Linda Fang (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 1995), pp. 101-113.


The Period of the Warring States ran from about 475-221 BCE. It was a time of violence and chaos during which the philosopher Sun-Tzu lived. Six states engaged in more or less constant warfare with each other and a seventh, Yen, remained mostly out of the fray. In 223-221 the ruler of Tsin, Cheng Wang, succeeded in conquering his rivals and established a unified Chinese empire. The basis of his success were the introduction of cavalry into Chinese warfare and the replacement of bronze weapons by iron ones. The state was centralized. Cheng Wang became known as the Book Burner because of an early decree to burn books. He is also credited with constructing the Great Wall of China.

In China there is an expression "The entire jade returns to Chao" that comes from this story and is often used to promise that a borrowed item will be returned in its original condition.