The last two male beauties left behind an abundance of poetries and literary legacies, and their F4 equivalent were equally chatty. Wei Jie, however, very similar to Hanazawa Rui, was a man was very few words. While Hanazawa Rui’s silence was a result of his introverted character (and slight autism), the cause of Wei Jie’s silence was due to his poor health.
Nephrite and the Chinese aesthetic
The Chinese’s love for jade (nephrite, not jadeite) has been around for thousands of years and the word Jade 玉 in Chinese was generally used to refer to beautiful stones which included other stones like serpentine 岫玉 or white marble 汉白玉 etc. The ancient Chinese held stones in such regard largely because of their love for nature, so much so that jade is synonymous to an adjective to refer to pristinely beautiful things. And that, was the reputation of Wei Jie.
He was called the “Jade Man” (not in the Marvel superhero way) but that he was said to be as pristine as a piece of jade figurine. And everyone would rush to have a look at him wherever he (rather, the carriage cos he was too wealthy to have to walk, like Rui would take a car to wherever) went.
Naturally, for someone to have a reputation of looking like a beautiful stone, he must have had really pale (and flawless) complexions. His paleness is symptomatic of his poor health, and although he actually loved talking, he had to control how much he speaks. His mother, too, would stop him from speaking out of concern for his health. Yeap, a very good mommy’s boy! He was often compared to the Dream of the red chamber female protagonist, Lin Daiyu, for his health condition so I actually got the same model for both roles! I particularly adore her exquisite and fine features.
Very much like Hanazawa Rui, he was from a very wealthy and influential family (one of the elite families). He was also exceptionally aloof, like Rui. Despite his strong family backings, he was not the least interested in the power game, unlike Pan An. He spent a great deal of time philosophising and was very into Neo-Taoism–the “in” philosophical belief of his period. It was a return to Taoist ideals after about 400 years of repressive Confucian beliefs imposed by the Han court. We have to understand that Confucianism since the Han dynasty was markedly different from the original Confucianism during its period of origin–the Spring and Autumn period. Han literati and court manipulated the Confucian teachings to their ruling objectives, and that was what has been passed down till today.
Neo-Taoism thrived together with Buddhism in the periods after Han dynasty as people sought more liberating ideals, in an almost rebellious way.
Dreaming in Chinese culture
One of the more poignant stories about Wei Jie was his philosophical discussion on dreams. It happened when he was just a little boy, and already he was contemplating on what are dreams made of. He was not convinced that it was simply made up of your thoughts in the waking moments and fell ill after contemplating on it for days.
Eventually, his mentor referred to the Rites of Zhou (ancient text dating back to about 2,500 years ago) and its categorisation of dreams into 6 categories：
- Regular or restful dreams (正梦)–naturally occurring dreams which were not a result of your thoughts, or what you have experienced
- Startling or disturbing dreams (噩梦)
- Reflective dreams (思梦)–what you thought of in the day
- Daydreams (寤梦)
- Happy dreams (喜梦)
- Frightening dreams (惧梦)
Dreams have huge spiritual significance across ancient civilisations (and perhaps even today). Just think of the native americans’ dreamcatcher and their dream beliefs, the Australian indigenous people’s dreamtime stories of creation (just off the top of my head, I’m sure there are more but I’m not very familiar with them–will read up in time). These are all related to spirituality.
Of course, in Chinese culture, butterflies are the ‘spirit creatures’ for dreams. Butterfly, besides being decorative and holding auspicious meanings (homophones of good luck in Chinese), actually has a spiritual meaning in ancient Chinese philosophies/beliefs. And when one dreams, it was often believed that the spirit leaves the body and enters into another realm.
When the story of the Butterfly lovers (Chinese semi-equivalent of Romeo & Juliet) ended with the two starcrossed lovers transforming into butterflies after their deaths, it was not because it was auspicious.
And when the famous ancient philosopher Zhuangzi wrote that he dreamt that he turned into a butterfly, and after he woke up he was not sure if he was a man dreaming that he turned into a butterfly, or if he was a butterfly dreaming that he’s turned into a man (very matrix-ish), it also wasn’t because it was by coincidence that a butterfly was involved.
Butterflies, to the ancient Chinese, were the physical form of spirits. So it was actually particularly moving when I read a recent article about how a Groom’s family released butterflies during a wedding to honour a sister who passed on, and one of the butterflies stayed on the father’s finger the entire ceremony. I love coincidences across cultures and across time like these.
Rui, too, often seem to be in his own world. The physical world and his spiritual/inner world are quite separate, thus we named him the Dreamer.
Death by Staring
Besides having looks that could kill, ironically, the dreamy Wei Jie was rumoured to have died from being stared at by too many people. Another version said that he talked too much when debating with someone, and died from exhaustion.
As an introvert (Surprise!), I can definitely relate/attest to that.
If you read my article on the ancient 4 female beauties, they all inspired idioms on beauty. Wei Jie, too, inspired the creation of a Chinese Idiom which loosely translates to death by staring 看杀卫玠 (kan sha wei jie), and which was often used to describe someone who is greatly admired by people.
On that note, while Rui was an extreme introvert, his silence was more of a self-imposed one than one that’s imposed by his mother like in the case of Wei Jie. And he was actually physically quite strong with his basketball matches, while Wei Jie obviously needed more work out.