In one place people did not know what they looked like because there were no mirrors. Zhaxi was a local businessman who lived with his mother, father, and young wife. One day Zhaxi told his family that he had decided to travel to other lands and find special things to sell. His family supported the idea and he left the next day.
Several months later, Zhaxi returned with many things that he had bought during his travels. He told his family about the journey and said that he had found something very special. Just as he was about to describe what it was, he had to go outside on an errand.
In the meantime his wife went into their bedroom and noticed something bright on their bedroom table. When she looked at it, she realized it was a picture of a beautiful young woman. She put it back on the table, began weeping, ran to her mother-in-law, and told her Zhaxi had married a beautiful young woman while he was away on his travel.
The old woman did not believe this, impatiently went to the bedroom, picked up the bright thing, looked at it, and saw an ugly old woman. She angrily wondered, “If Zhaxi married again, why did he marry such an ugly old woman?”
When she told her husband. He went into the bedroom, picked up the bright thing, looked at it and saw an old man. He excitedly reported to his wife and daughter-in-law that the picture was actually of the new wife’s father-in-law.
When Zhaxi returned he said, “Now I will show you the very special thing I found. It is a mirror and you can see yourselves in it.”
When his family members heard this, they all laughed.