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[Tidbits] Jade BI


A Bi is an ancient Chinese artifact. It is a flat jade disc with a
circular hole in the center. The Chinese word for Jade is YU. So. if
Bi is pronounced Bee then a Jade Bi is a YU Bi which–I guess–is the
opposite of an I Am. If however. Bi is pronounced Bye. then YU Bi
followed by a question mark takes on a whole different aspect. Ain’t
language a most wondrous thang?

Bi’s. at one time. were plain. However. after the Neolithic period
Bi’s they became ornately carved with patterns representing deities
which would endow their wearers with the power evoked by the deities
therein embodied. Then things progressed a tad and as Bi’s were
discovered in Chinese tombs they began to become studied by the
ruling class. The Emperor took hold of an unadorned Bi and had his
own words inscribed all over it. It now became an object of 18th
century enlightment. One could. I presume. wear it upon one’s neck
and if one should need a bon mot or two. they were always readily

Of the many different Bi’s available through the ages. it is one
suchas the one above described that I have chosen to show you. This
labor intensive item. crafted to the ultimate degree. serves to
demonstrate to one and all the concentration of power and resources
reserved for the possession of the select elite.

The Bi’s were traditionally associated with the heavens and
demonstrated the importance of the cosmological concepts of the
Chinese culture of the time. Things have truly not changed all that
much. Back then it was the Bi’s. Today it’s the U. S.S. Enterprise
and the Apollo. daring to go forth where no man has ever gone before.
In the old world it was the religious leaders of the Liangshu
society. in the modern world it was Captain Kirk and Neil A.

Alas. there is no history enlightening us as to the purpose of the
Bi. Did it have function? Did it have significance. Perhaps the sages
of a world long forgotten decided–in the cryptic fashion for which
our elders were so famous–to give modern man a model for the donut
hole in order to ensure we are prepared to act upon this information
when the moment is right. Perhaps Dunkin’ Donuts owes it’s success to
ancient Chinese cultures.

In death Bi’s were ceremoniously placed upon the bodies of the of
those who had attained the highest levels of moral quality and social
rank. In life they were worn by emperors and kings and dukes and
barons. In wartime Bi’s were handed over to the victors by the
leaders of the defeated forces as signs of submission. Better to hand
over a Bi as a sign of submission I say, than to bare your neck and
offer your head. Not sure if we’ve gone forward or regressed.

Yu–for the purists amongst you–also means noble and pure and
treasure and jewel. YU BI loosely translated could mean you are my
jade jewel shining bright green in the gleam of glistening stars in
the dark of night whilst I look into the holes in your eyes and think
of donuts. Well… something like that. I suspect the romanticism
might be a tad lost in my translation.

There’s more to tell about the BI. Much more. Alas. it’s at this
stage of my presentation that I often tend to segue into the inane.
transforming a lucid essay into a quivering mass of gelatinous
nonsense. It therefore behooves me to end this Tidbits and wait for
next week.

And now. ta-dumm… the visit to the image. also known as the
viewing experience. You know where. Home page. Scroll down. Left side. [Tidbits]. Click.
And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will see a jade BI of
ancient times.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark