Jia Baoyu (贾宝玉)
|Other names||Pao Yu|
|Known for||Being the Divine Luminescent Page in Waiting in an earlier incarnation|
A magical jade in his mouth and his love with his first cousin Lin Daiyu
|Spouse(s)||Xue Baochai (cousin by maternal aunt)|
|Parent(s)||Jia Zheng (father)|
Lady Wang (mother)
|Relatives||Jia Zhu (deceased elder brother)|
Jia Yuanchun (elder sister)
Jia Huan (younger half-brother)
Jia Tanchun (younger half-sister)
Lin Daiyu (cousin by paternal aunt and love interest)
Hua Xiren (unofficial concubine)
Jia Baoyu (traditional Chinese: 賈寶玉; simplified Chinese: 贾宝玉; pinyin: Jiǎ Bǎoyù; "Precious Jade", and his surname is a homophone with "false" or "fictitious") is the principal character in the classic 18th century Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber.
The first chapter describes how one piece of stone was left over from when the Wall of Heaven was repaired by the Goddess Nüwa. That stone, changed into a piece of luminous jade, is given a chance to learn the emptiness of human existence by following another incarnation who is to be Jia Baoyu. Baoyu is thus born with a magical piece of jade in his mouth. His name, which literally means "precious jade", was given him in honor of this. The jade and Baoyu share a mystical link, and the Cheng-Gao version ends after the jade is lost for good and Baoyu himself disappears. Lin Daiyu was a fairy flower, was later incarnated as Daiyu to pay back her “debt of tears" to Jia Baoyu, who watered and gave life to the flower.
Baoyu is portrayed as having little interest in learning the Confucian classics, much to the despair of his father, Jia Zheng. He would rather spend his time reading or writing poetry and playing with his numerous female relations. He is nonetheless compassionate and thoughtful (perhaps as a juxtaposition onto the other male characters in the novel).
Baoyu's romance and relationship with Lin Daiyu and Xue Baochai forms one of the novel's main plot lines. However, there are several other women who play an important part in his life. In particular, he is a darling of his grandmother, who dotes on him and occasionally shields him from his father. His principal maids are also worthy of note. The crater Pao-yu on asteroid 433 Eros was named after him.
Alter ego: Zhen Baoyu
There is another Baoyu in the novel, a minor character with the surname of "Zhen" (甄), a homophone for "truth" or "real". Zhen Baoyu shares many of Jia Baoyu's characteristics, living in a wealthy clan with many attendants and cousins, although he lives in Jinling (now Nanjing) rather than in the capital.
In Zhiyanzhai's commentary, it is clear that Zhen Baoyu would have had a large part to play in the later parts of the novel, now lost. He is to send Jia Baoyu's jade back when it goes missing. Zhen Baoyu, like Jia Baoyu, also becomes a monk at the end. Hence, Zhen Baoyu can be said to be a mirror of Jia Baoyu, just as the fortunes of the fictitious Jia Clan are mirrored in those of the Zhen Clan (the "real" family).