Chengyu Tuesdays: Smashing Jade

完璧归赵 wánbìguī Zhào – return to its owner


完璧归赵 (wánbìguī Zhào) is literally "return the jade disc to Zhao", and means to return something to its rightful owner. As always, there's a (somewhat overwrought) story behind it:


A precious jade disc (the 和氏璧 héshìbì) was stolen from the state of Chu and sold to the state of Zhao. In 283 BC, King Zhaoxiang of Qin offered 15 cities to the state of Zhao in exchange for the jade disc. Zhao minister Lin Xiangru was dispatched to take the jade to Qin. He handed over the disc, but when it became clear that the King of Qin would not uphold his side of the bargain, he claimed that the jade had an imperfection. The King of Qin said he could not find the blemish and handed the disc back to Lin Xiangru, asking him where the scar was. When Lin Xiangru took the jade, he threatened to smash it unless the King of Qin promised to delay the swap for three days. During that time he secretly he told his servants to take the jade back to the King of the Zhao.