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Stories Told in Chinese Paper Cuts (15)--A Promise Worth More Than a Thousand Ounces of Gold

Yi Rongrong /tr. by Jonathan Barnard


Meaning: "A promise worth more than a thousand ounces of gold" is used to describe reliable people who keep their word.

Source: In the Historical Records it is written that the people of the state of Chu would say, "One hundred pounds of gold are not equal to a single promise from Ji Bu."

1.Ji Bu lived in the Chu region at the end of the Qin dynasty and was a bold soldier in the army of Xiang Yu. Righteous and always true to his word, he was highly respected.

2.When Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu, he ordered the capture of Ji Bu, but after receiving a petition from Teng Gong, the Marquis of Ruyang, Liu released Ji Bu and appointed him a member of the palace guard.

3.During the rule of the Han emperor Wen Di, Ji Bu was appointed as magistrate of Hedong Prefecture, but his bold and straightforward character had not changed a whit. In those days there was a man named Cao Qiusheng, a good talker who had ingratiated himself with many powerful and wealthy people. Ji despised him.

4.When Cao Qiusheng learned of how Ji Bu felt about him, he didn't get angry but instead went to pay him a visit.

5.Upon entering Ji's living room, he bowed and said with a smile, "The people of Chu have a saying: 'A thousand ounces of gold is not worth a promise of Ji Bu's.' Hasn't this great reputation of yours been spread by the people of Chu? I am a Chu. Why sir, do you so despise me?"

6.Ashamed of himself, Ji Bu struck up a conversation with Cao about things past and present. Ji Bu discovered that Cao was very good with people. Later, with Cao Qiusheng spreading good words about Ji Bu, his reputation grew even greater and "a promise worth more than 1000 ounces of gold" became a commonly used idiom.

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