A man of the state of Chu went to the state of Zheng to sell his pearls. He had a casket made of the wood of the magnolia tree, and then had it scented with cinnamon and pepper, set with jewels, carved in rose patterns, and inlaid with jade. A man of the state of Zheng bought the casket but gave back the pearls. Thus we can say that the man from Chu knew how to sell his casket but not how to sell his pearls.
The moral of this story normally is to show lack of judgement as one who buys the glittering casket and return the pearls to the seller, rather not the seller. But this actually is quite misunderstanding the original meaning of Han Feitsu who is the original author.
In “Han Fei tzu”,there is another story come with this one: King Qin married his daughter to Prince Jin. The King Qin sent his daughter with 70 beautifully dressed servant girl to Prince Jin. Prince Jin just ignored his wife but loved his 70 concubines. King Qin is quite foolish on marrying his daughter but very good of marrying his servant girls.
The seller of the jewel is as foolish as King Qin, who over-decorated his casket, the casket is far more valuable than the jewel itself, so the buyer just bought the jewel casket and gave back the jewel to the seller. So did Prince Jin who couldn’t gave back his wife to King Qin, so he just ignored her and enjoyed the happiness with his 70 concubines.
Did the buyer lack of judgement? did he overpaid for the casket? Not at all.