Patterns of Disengagement: The Practice and Portrayal of Reclusion in Early Medieval China 0804736030, 9780804736039

While the customary path to achievement in traditional China was through service to the state, from the earliest times c

325 77 19MB

English Pages 312 [155] Year 2000

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Patterns of Disengagement: The Practice and Portrayal of Reclusion in Early Medieval China
 0804736030, 9780804736039

Citation preview


Alan J. Berkowitz




Stanford University Press

Per Titina


Stanford, California

@2000 by the Board ofTrustees ofthe

Leland Stanford Junior University Printed in the United States of America

Sentite: io mme so' fatto, una vutata, 'e ciert'antiche libbre sturiuso:

Berkowitz, AIan J. Patterns of disengagement: the practice and portrayal of reclusion in early medieval China I AIan J. Berkowitz. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0- 8047-3603.0 (alk. paper)

1. China-Intellectual life. 2. Recluses-China. 3. China-Politics and govemment-221 B.c.-960 A.D. 1. Title: Practice and portrayal of reclusion in early medieval China. II. Title.


DS721.B45 951-dC21


This book is printed on acid-free, archival-quality paper. Original printing 2000 Last figure below indicates year ofthis printing:


� .�




Designed and typeset in 10/12.5 Minion by John FenelOn

I f f


t I

I t I

� J






\J) -

ce pigHo gusto e . . . ce passo 'a nuttata.

-Salvatore Di Giacomo, "Arnmore abbasato"


This study is about disengagement, but it is beholden to the engagement of many individuals. Here I wish to acknowledge above all my in­ debtedness to David R. Knechtges, who served as my mentor over many years, giving generously of his time, his expertise, his support; certainly any pro­

fessional discernment I may possess is derived from my days as the Sinologist's apprentice. I also wish to express ,gratitude to the late Professor Paul L.-M. Serruys for years of tutelage in Classical Chinese language and epigraphy, and to Gerald W. Swanson, yin junzi par excellence, who first quickened my interest in Classical Chinese language, literature, and thought. The scholarship of Richard B. Mather always has been as a beacon; here I acknowledge, too, a debt for the example he has set and for his encouragement and support, as well as for many inspirational moments "beckoning the recluse" together in old Iiankang and its environs. Likewise, the scholarship of Donald Holzman also has been for me both an invaluable resource and an inspiration; I also have benefited from his discerning comments and pleasant company. Professor Sun Shuqi greatly facil­ itated my research during two years I spent at Nanjing University, providing unstintingly of his assistance and expertise both at the university and, espe­ cially, during the many weeks we spent together well off the beaten path in search of the legacy of China's men in reclusion; his energy was inexhaustible and his companionship not to be forgotten. To Titina Caporale, whose man­ ifold contributions have not waned over the years and over the continents:

grazie per tutto. I also am appreciative of the support and kindnesses I have received from Paul Kroll, Madeline Spring, Chiu-Mi Lai, Randy Birk, and

Charlotte Berkowitz, from my colleagues Li-ching Chang Mair and Hansjakob Werlen, and, in retrospect, from Boofer. I also wish to acknowledge John R. Ziemer, whose close readings of an earlier version of this manuscript led to a number of improvements in the present one. Gratitude is also expressed to John. Feneron and Martin Hanft of Stanford University Press for their expert and manifold contributions. All of the above persons, as well as many others

who although unnamed nevertheless are not anonymous, are to be thanked for

contributing in one way or another to what may be noteworthy in the following


pages. I m self apologize and welcome correction for the infelicities and out­ right mistakes of this study-surely my responsibility but, I hope, not my only contribution. Here I would also like to acknowledge the support of several institutions.



Work on this book was supported by a National Endowment for the Humani­ ties Summer Stipend and by research grants from Swarthmore College. Much


of the research for this book was done in preparing a dissertation at the Univer­ sity of Washington; during that time I benefited from generous support for re­ search in China from the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China, and from a U.S. Department of Education Ful­


bright-Hays Research Abroad Fellowship. The American Council of Learned Societies more recently provided support for a separate project: some of that research has now been incorporated into the present work. Much work on this book was completed several years ago, but various mun­ dane circumstances (some banausic, some more disquieting) kept it from com­ pletion until now. In the meantime some portions of the work have appeared in articles, and I am grateful to the publishers of those articles for letting me re­ incorporate those materials into the present work. Part of the Introduction and

a part of Chapter 1 have appeared in "The Moral Hero: A Pattern of Reclusion

in Traditional China" (Monumenta Serica 40 [1992): 1-32); other snippets of the present study have appeared in several issues of the Journal ofthe American Ori­

ental Society.



xi 1

1. The Portrayal of Reclusion in Early China: Patterns and Thematic Archetypes


2. The Individualization of Reclusion during the Han 3. Substantive Reclusion in the Later Han


4. Reclusion in Early Medieval China: Distinguishing

Characteristics and the Delineation of Substantive Reclusion


5. The Nature and Portrayal of Substantive Reclusion in the Six Dynasties: Medieval Sources, Medieval Views, Part 1


6. The Nature and Portrayal of Substantive Reclusion in the Six Dynasties: Medieval Sources, Medieval Views, Part 2


7. Patterns and Singularities in the Portrayal of Reclusion during the Six Dynasties


Conclusion: The Practice of Reclusion and the Portrayal of the Recluse




Character List





In legendary antiquity, when the sage emperor Yao offered Xu You rule over the entire realm, Xu You felt besmirched just by having heard the offer; he rinsed out his ears and headed off to the mountains for the rest of

his untrammeled days. The story of Xu You has remained poignant through the centuries, most always being evoked as an exuberant expression of individual­

istic endeavor and freedom from worldly taint and constraint, rather than as a negative epitome of flagrant egoism and irresponsibility-'-not to speak of dis­ respect for authority. For in the end, as a paragon of extraordinary conduct, a champion of unbridled immaculacy, Xu You has come to epitomize a striking facet of reclusion in China, and reclusion has been a nuclear component of the traditional Chinese cultural tableau since time immemorial. Reclusion in traditional China encompassed a number of divergent ration­ ales and lifestyles, many of them largely antithetical to those evinced in the story of Xu You. At base, however, the touchstone of the man in reclusion was con­ duct and personal integrity manifested in the unflinching eschewal of official position. It was this outsider's stance that constituted the cause for public ac­ claim: men in reclusion did not surrender their integrity, nor did they com­ promise their resolve, and for that they received approbation. Xu You declined Ya6's offer, saying, "Would I do it for a name? A name is the guest of reality." As it turns out, there is a rich nomenclature for Xu You and his ilk, and the names indeed are in many ways a literary surrogate for the reality

of reclusion in traditional China. While the names do reflect voluntary outsider status, imagistic or symbolic terminology is preponderant, in tum becoming the idiom of conventionalized iconography. (The situation is compounded in translation, for the word "reclusion" itself is somewhat misleading, carrying

connotations not always appropriate to the Chinese context. I think that the word "recusancy" in some ways and in many situations might better represent the reality of reclusion in traditional China, where men in reclusion often were described as "recusants"-ie., persons exhibiting nonparticipant, dissentient, or nonconformist conduct-rather than as "recluses." But that word, too, would carry much inappropriate linguistic baggage, especially these days, and moreover would ill reflect the rich figurative terminology, as well as the broad panorama, of reclusion in China.) Thus, the eminent personages of history, leg­ end, and literature who forwent opportunities for worldly success and a role in the central government of their time might be called by any number of descrip-



tive terms. Among others, these include Hidden Men reclusion), Disengaged Persons looked Persons



Disengaged Scholars

i.e., men-in­

(yishi) ,


(chushi), High-minded Men (gaoshi), Lofty and Disengaged (gaoyi), Lofty Recluses (gaoyin), Remote Ones (youren), Hidden Ones (yinzhe), Hidden Princely Men (yin junzi), Men of the Cliffs and Caves (yanxue zhi shi), Sojourners Who Prize Escape (jiadun ke), Scholars Who Fly to Withdrawal (feidun zhi shi), or Summoned Scholars (zhengshi; i.e., men who receive an imperial summons to court but decline ap­ (yimin #2),


pointment). As many of the names for men in reclusion imply, an association was com­ monly made by analogy (if not in some cases in actuality) between disengage­ ment from worldly affairs and disengagement from the centers of those activi­

ties. This has been depicted ubiquitously over the centuries in literature and art in the topas of the recluse leading a peaceful and unfettered life in simple cir­ cumstances in a benign mountain wilderness. This aesthetic-and symbolic­ vision of life in reclusion doubtless would have held a certain allure for the scholar-official caught up in the very real trials and tribulations of the court and the mundane world. (I, too,


greatly empathetic to the topos of reclusion,

and continue to work on a literary study of that topic.) Yet the portrayal of most of those individuals in traditional China who actually practiced reclusion as their way of life describes neither recluses nor hermits, and the alluring imagery of reclusion in the abstract is, in a certain sense, a disembodied construction. The present study, then, looks primarily at the formulation and portrayal of actual reclusion, at individual practitioners and patterns of substantive reclu­ sion, at the views of medieval chroniclers of reclusion, and at the distinctive nature of the practice in early and early-medieval China. If some of the mys­ tique of reclusion in China may have been repositioned, mea culpa; wistful readers might appreciate, as I did, Bill Porter's engaging and toothsome Road to

Heaven. The present study explores the practice of reclusion in early-medieval China, although visitors to China will still discover what residents have always known: the passage of time and the vicissitudes of civilization notwithstanding,

the legacy of traditional China's men in reclusion is anything but hidden.


Introduction "Of all the millions of people, nine of ten hold no official position: how could all of them be High-minded Men?"

Meng Lou, a practitioner of reclusion, quoted in lin shu 94.2443

''Tales about this famous site long have been passed down: Half of them contain some truth, half of them surmise." Stde inscription by Guo Moruo, visiting

Yan Ziling'sAngling Terrace in 1923

In a Chinese landscape painting one commonly sees a lone robed scholar sitting beneath a cypress tree, trudging a deserted footpath, or crossing a small bridge over a wilderness torrent. And in China's best-known "nature" poetry, the poet often extols the simple life of the worthy hermit and the serene tranquillity of his chosen residence. These are some of the more common images of reclusion, whose beauty and poignancy have contributed to traditional China's cultural identity. Other common images are the cave­ dwelling ascetic, the disheveled monk, the itinerant fortune-teller, the aloof fisherman, and thewise woodcutter. Yet paintingsjust as often portray only the traces of the recluse: his brushwood hut, his fishing nets, or his footprints in the snow. And the poet oftentimes goes off to seek out the hermit only to find no one home. These recurrent images may serve to remind us of the intangibility of our most familiar vision of reclusion in China. While there certainly have always been recluses, by the time the portrayal of reclusion in China begins to include information about the actual lives of his­ torical individuals, it is apparent that recluses were not the norm of reclusion. In fact, the descriptive terminology rarely indicates fanaticism; in most cases it describes a self-conscious, highly moral, well-educated elite that actively par­ ticipated in some of the most engaging activities of the times. We may instinc­ tively, perhaps romantically, look among the accounts of the "recluses" for the fantastic: for notices of blissful quietude or cave-dwelling asceticism; for ac­ counts of aberrant antisocial behavior or accounts of unfettered whim apart from, or on the fringes of, society; or for tales of wonderful psychic or spiritual skills and deeds. But these are not what distinguishes reclusion in China. There are, to be sure, a goOdly number of excellent stories to be found among the ac­ counts, and these certainly are the most entertaining of the lot. However, as in



the parable of the blind men probing the elephant in order to discern its form, these stories, as well as the hermit in the landscape painting, reveal just one as­ pect of a more complex entity.' For most civilizations reclusion has usually indicated withdrawal from the world into a life of seclusion, most often within a religious context. In tradi­ tional China that was not the case. While religious motives did begin to find ex­ pression with the growth of Buddhism and Daoism in the early part of the Six Dynasties (although not always explicitly SO),l withdrawal usually meant with­ drawal from active p·articipation in an official career in the state bureaucracy. Reclusion in China was typically secular, and religious devotion was but one of any number of avocations pursued by individuals who had renounced public

service; frequently, those who withdrew still played active roles within the world. And renunciation in China did not necessarily imply ascetic self-denial: it meant the repudiati�n of a role in the service of local or state authority.3 Under traditional plastic rubrics, reclusion might be Confucian or Taoist in nature.4 The Confucian withdrew as an ethical reaction against the political or 'This story about the blL'ld men a..'ld the elephant is common to many traditions. For a Buddhist version from the Nirvana Sutra, see Ding Fubao, comp., Fo xue dacidian, pp. 126768. For a Sufi version, see Idries Shah, Tales ofthe Dervishes, pp. 25-26. Sections of the Intro­ duction and Chapter1 of the present study were published previously in my "Moral Hero: A Pattern of Reclusion in Traditional China." 'The term "Six Dynasties" is used here as an intentional expedient, as a generic catchall intending the period in early-medieval China extending from the end of the Later Han to the beginning of the Tang, including all of the various dynasties of both the south and the north. 'See Frederick W. Mote, "Confucian Eremitism in the Yuan Period," pp. 253-55· Studies of reclusion that provide useful overviews include: Aat Vervoom, Men ofthe Cliffs and Caves: The Development of the Chinese Eremitic Tradition to the End of the Han Dynasty; Nemoto Makoto, Sensei shakai ni okeru teilcii seishin:Chugokuteki in'itsu no Icenkyii.; Obi K6ichi, Chil­ goku no inton shiso; Jiang Xingyu, Zhongguo yinshi yu Zhongguo wenhua; A. R. Davis, "The Narrow LaDe: Some Observations on the Recluse in Traditional Chinese Sodety"; Wang Yao, "Lun xiqi yinyi zhi feng"; Li Chi, "The Changing Concept of the Recluse in Chinese Lit­ erature"; Wolfgang Bauer, "The Hidden Hero: Creation and Disintegration of the Ideal of Eremitism"; Kasahara Chtiji, "Genjitsu no henkaku to inton shisa: Chiigokuteki hytimani­ zumu to jikaku no mondai"; Hashimoto Jun, "In'itsu shisO no rytihen ni tsuite"; Liu Jiyao, "Shi yu yin: chuantong Zhongguo zhengzhi wenhua de liang ji"; Wu Biyong, "Ren yu shehui: wenren shengming de erzhong zau: shi yu yin"; Liu Yeqiu, "Shilun Zhon�o gudai de yin­ shi"; Hong Anquan, "Liang Han roshi de shiyin taidu yu shehui fengqi"; Oyane Bunjir6, To Enmei krnkyii., pp. 65-86; and Wang Wenliang, Zhongguo shengren lun, pp. 169-202. See also the several recent monographs that address the subject in a more popular vein: Fu Jin, Shi yin zhi si; Wang Debao, Shi yu yin; Leng Chengjin, Yinshi yu jietuo; Zhang Nan, Yinshi shengya; and Bill Porter, Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits. For a more extensive list of references, see my "Reclusion in Traditional China:A Selected List of References." 'I retain the orthography "Taoist" (also Taoism) to refer to the general philosophical bent (often called "philosophical Taoism") that has found expression in such texts as the



moral order of the times, thereby frustrating his personal commitment to pub­ lic service; the Taoist withdrew out of his disdain for worldly involvement, thereby fulfilling his ambition. The Confucian sought to transform the world

through moral example, and in reclusion endeavored to implement this goal by starting at the local level; the Taoist wished for the world to transform of itself,

reverting to its ideal state without the interference of moral meddlers, and in re­ clusion he strove to cut all worldly ties. The Confucian bides his time: if he does not hold office it is only because his moral predilection for service is frustrated by matters of time and place-matters over which he has no control. The Taoist does not tarry: he voluntarily turns his back on both governmental and societal responsibilities, disburdening himself of the yoke of moral convention of his own free accord.s

Generalizations are founded on verisimilitude, and here there is no excep­ tion, especially if we limit consideration to the patterned portrayal of reclusion in early China· and the formulation of abstract prescriptions for withdrawal.

The artificial bifurcation has remained persistent for reasons more than just habit or shallow convenience: the very names Confucian and Taoist are so re­ plete with connotations that when conjured up in reference to words, actions, or philosophical stance, the appropriate panoply of implications is brought

immediately to the informed reader's attention, providing an implicit concep­ tual background to the presentation of the material at hand.6 Nevertheless, tru-

Zhuangzi and the Laozi. The orthography "Daoist" (also Daoism) is used when referring to China's indigenous system of religious beliefs whose codification began in the second through fourth centuries of the Common Era. Although the latter in a number of ways is an out­ growth of the former, the distinction between the two has been clearly articulated by Nathan Sivin in his "On the Word 'Taoist' as a Source of Perplexity, with Special Reference to the Relations of Science and Religion in Traditional China," pp. 303-30. See also the succinct but salient remarks of Erik ZUrcher, The Buddhist Conquest ofChina: The Spread and Adaptation ofBuddhism in Early Medieval China, pp. 288-90; and Michel Strickmann, "The Mao Shan Revelations: Taoism and the Aristocracy," pp.1-2. See also Strickmann, "On the Alchemy of T'ao Hung-ching," PP.165-67; and Kristofer Schipper, The Taoist Body, pp.191-95. 'In addition to common parlance, modem studies that primarily follow the traditional division of reclusion into "Confucian" or "Taoist" include the articles noted above by: Fred­ erick W. Mote, Li Chi, Hong Anquan, Wolfgang Bauer, Oyane Bunjir6, Wu Biyong, and Liu Jiyao. Liu Jiyao adds a short-lived third category: "Legalist" based reclusion. See also Kagu­ noka Masatoshi, "In to itsu: Rongo 0 t6shite,· and "H6bokushi ni okeru in'itsu shis6"; Wolfgang Bauer, "The Hermit's Temptation: Aspects of Eremitism in China and the West in the Third and Early Fourth Century A.D."; Fuji Masaharo, Chugoku no inja: Ransei to chishi­ lcijin; Zeng Chunhai, "Cong Lun yu Kongzi yu yinzhe zhi yu guan Kongxue zhi jingshen yu zhiqu"; Lin Lizhen, "You Mengzi zhi chuchu jintui guan qi fengge yu renge"; Kanaya Osamu, "M6 Ka no taf'in"; Tateno Masami, "R6shi to Soshi: Shichti no inja to sanchii no inja." 'A lucid exposition of what is behind the labels is found in the relevant chapters of the first volume of A History ofChinese Political Thought by Kung-chuan Hsiao (Xiao Gong-



isms notwithstanding, the anachronistic pastiche terms "Confucian" and "Tao­ ist" generalize a consciously retrospective idealization of reclusion, and they belie the more complex reality of the lives of the individuals who; since the be­ ginning of Imperial China, have opted for reclusion as a way of life. Further, the overly simple categorizations tend to converge acts, actors, and scenarios onto a contrived framework that, although comfortably familiar, often imposes seem­ ing contradictions between accounts of persons and personages, fostering the perpetuation of infelicities and malapropisms.

A patent illustration of overly simplistic labeling concerns Laozi, who in­ variably is accorded the distinction of being the exemplar of so-called Taoist re­

clusion, as well as the prototYPe for the intellectual/metaphysical abstraction of "reclusion within the court" (chao yin)-one who can hide away anywhere,

even right under the eyes of the whole world While this view is not without merit, Laozi was equally celebrated for being a "hidden Superior Man" (yin junzi), not because of his keeping to a low office but because, after serving for

some time, he left office "when he perceived the decline of the Zhou" (jian Zhou zhi shuai).1 The point is that as he retired and withdrew on account of a funda­ mentally moral decision, his act, in a sense, might properly be seen in terms of

the classic "Confucian" withdrawal. When, with the proliferation of historical, literary, and religious materials

that began in the Eastern Han and burgeoned in the Six Dynasties, it becomes

possible to view practitioners of reclusion as historical personages rather than



sion as there were individual personalities. Reclusion was a human affair, and as such it was as complex as the humans involved. Were that not so, it would fail to do credit to the decorous legacy, or to the strength of character of those indi­ viduals. Still, accounts of reclusion often do tend to be formulaic, and the por­ trayal of character and circumstance often is a complex amalgam of aspects of a number of underlying patterns. Some of these patterns, which have contributed to the image of reclusion since early times, are archetypal in nature; others are symptomatic of the context of the writing wherein the account is found. Throughout all cultural contexts, if there is a trait universally shared by all

who chose to practice reclusion as a way of life, it is strength of character. That they maintained their mettle, their resolve, their integrity-their personal moral or religious values-in the face of adversity, threat, or temptation, was their distinction. In China that trait was commonly noted in the accounts of those who refused to accept offers for public employ, and it became a byword of approbation: "he exalted his personal ideals" surrender his integrity"

(gao shang qi zhi); "he would not (bu qu qi jie); "he did not let down his resolve" (bu jiang

qi zhi). Withdrawal was a measure of the individual's resolve; regardless of the

dangers or of the attractions of service, and regardless of the motivations for avoiding it, he strove to maintain his autonomy and self-reliance. Whereas ac­ ceding to official position often brought reward, recriminations for a refusal to comply with a call to official service were not uncommon, and in those in­

stances in which reclusion was tolerated, or even officially sanctioned, con­

simply as one-dimensional role-players in someone else's apologue, it becomes

vincing the authorities still often took a certain amount of bravura.

trated protesting Confucian nor the appurtenance of the detached self-indul­

spect-and attention. Their utility in governance was explored in court discus­

or withdrew from office: they sought to remove themselves from temporal po­

ministration as well as within the jurisdiCtions; and they were received or called

apparent that reclusion as practiced was neither solely the resolve of the frus­ gent Taoist. As a group, those who opted for reclusion as a way of life eschewed

The very incorruptibility of those who eschewed office gained for them re­

sion; they were repeatedly recommended for high office within the central ad­

litical intrigues, intent on cultivating their persons and transcending worldly

upon socially by those commanding state or local power. As exemplars, they

they led diverse lives: there is not any one particular set of circumstances that

models for affirmation or justification of their own idealized views and con­

trends and fashions, without compromise to their integrity. Yet as individuals

represents the group categorically. These individuals were not mere practition­ ers of an exercise in form, as was the case for the mountebanks of reclusion whose conventionally realized objective was, ultimately, career advancement and not withdrawal. In actuality, there were perhaps as many modes of recluquan). See also the relevant sections in Benjamin Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China; Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 2; and Fung Yu-Ian, A History ofChinese Philosophy. See also Herrlee G. Creel, "What is Taoism?"; Tadokoro Yoshiyuki, Shakaishijii kara mita Kandai no shisii to bungaku, pp. 197-207 ("Juka shisCi no shakaisei"); and Uno Seiichi, "Chugoku koten no gendaiteki igi: Juka shiso to Doka shiso," pp. 2-18. 'See Sima Qian

(145-ca. 86 B.C.E.), comp., Shiji 63.2141-42.

were often imitated by others-those who, in their zealous youth, sought role

duct, or those who simply were seeking recognition through proven pathways.

With the publicization of the private life of these exemplary individuals came

the popularization of various outward aspects of reclusion and the integztation of reclusion into society as a genteel option. Conduct that originally had been an in­

dividual's response to a particular combination of external circumstances and personal ideals became depersonalized into an open set of venerable postures that could be temporarily assumed by others when expedient-with or without the

moral resolve that had characterized the precedent. Thus a separation came to ex­ ist between abstract nominal reclusion and reclusion as a way oflife.

The phenomenon of idealized abstract nominal reclusion-reclusion ab-



stracted from its most fundamental reality-pervaded the Six Dynasties. It played a noticeable role in virtually every facet of life during the period: in di­ vergent developing philosophical trends and organized religions; in the theory and practice of government; in literature; in art; in social relations; in the mounting appreciation of the natural world; etc. And in contradistinction to the individuals found noteworthy by their contemporaries and by posterity for



ious and vital current, and a stupendous coup for governance; and it provided a venue for more than a few individuals faced with a great moral dilemma. "Hiding within the court" is reclusion only in the eye of the polemicist, yet it is an important foil in the study of reclusion because it helps define the nature of bona fide reclusion.'

Rhetoric aside, reclusion by all accounts is more than a state of mind. It is a

embracing reclusion as a way of life, a far greater number would extol the pri­

way of life pursued by choice, and entails also conduct. While there naturally

ployed therein. A gentrified, diffuse-often de rigueur-temporary nominal

clusion actualized as a chosen way of life, still there was a discernible cleft be­

vate life while either seeking entry into officialdom or lamenting being em­

reclusion was fashioned, which obversely tended to render more distinct the conviction that characterized reclusion as a way of life. Meanwhile, at the same time that some praised and imitated the exemplary conduct of those who withdrew, others out of envy or contempt condemned those who declined nominations to service. They debated the merits of and

pronounced judgment on recluses �nd moral exemplars of bygone days, and openly discussed the men of their age and the place of reclusion within govern­

ment. Beginning in the Later Han, dialogues between artificial hermits and stereotypic officials were compo�ed in attempts to "cure" the deficiencies in the attitudes of one or the other (commonly it was the hermit who needed to be cured). The cognoscenti of the bon mot grafted Zhuangzi's philosophical Tao­ ist detachment (and soon also Vimalakirti's worldly Buddhism) onto the Con­ fucian trunk of propagating the Way through service, and thus obfuscated any intellectual distinctions between actualized disengagement and official employ: whatever action they took-they invariably chose official capacity-they were freed of any of the problematic ethos that is so apparent in the lives of those who actually opted for a life "in reclusion." The logical paradox "hiding within the court"

(chao yin)

was for most an

intellectual imposture and a metaphysical sophism; it was both construed and promulgated by persons other than the High-minded Men (gaoshi), the practi­ tioners of reclusion who eschewed office and lived instead truly disengaged. "Hiding within the court" in theory may have had some overt resemblance to the truly profound notion that all things of the phenomenal world are equal,

but in practice it was a noetic rationalization fashioned out of casuistry and paralogism, and is properly outside the realm of reclusion. Instead of finding his "disengagement" within government office, the true practitioner of reclu­ sion might respond instead to the specious argument that equated service and

withdrawal: why then serve?· Still, "reclusion within the court" was an ingen-

'See the biography of Xin Mi in lin shu 94.24,m Xin starved himself to death rather than serve.

was a certain superficial overlap between nominal reclusion and substantive re­ tween those who discussed reclusion and those who, to paraphrase Confucius, put their ideals into practice.lo Invariably these latter persons took a stance that precluded their participation in officialdom. They lived, in one form or an­ other, private lives. During the Han and especially during the Six Dynasties, the persons considered by their contemporaries and by posterity as having prac­ ticed reclusion as a way of life often may have invoked historical precedent in voicing their decision to lead a retired life; more instructively, however, they insisted on living what we now might call their own existential truths. Theirs were the individual enactments of conscience and resolve that became models for imitation. Whatever their pursuits, whatever their lifestyles, they disdained compromise. They were less concerned about reclusion per se than about the preservation of their integrity, the realization of their personal ethos, and the .

actualization of their ideals.

Substantive reclusion, reclusion actualized as a chosen way of life, is dissoci­ ated from nominal reclusion by the conduct of the practitioner, and the prac­ tice of reclusion is characterized by the lives of those who adhered to reclusion as a way of life. In traditional China there existed a number of diverse lifestyles and modi vivendi within the rather flexible parameters of reclusion-as-a-way­ of-life, yet there nevertheless was a rather significant division between substan­ tive reclusion and the "reclusion" bantered about by nonpractitioners. The di­ vision in its most basic terms was demarcated by the acceptance or rejection of

an official career.ll When he chose to, however, the nonpractitioner himself, or his literary persona, might occasionally espouse a nominal idealized reduction of "life outside the world of public affairs." Examples are plentiful and have led

'See the discussions in Chapter 4. "See Lun yu 14139-40. References to chapter and section numbers in the Lun yu are as given in James Legge, trans., Confucian Analects, the Great LI'.aming, and the Doctrine of the "On this distinction, see my "Reclusion and 'The Chinese Eremitic Tradition,''' pp. 57584, and my "Topos and Entelechy in the Ethos of Reclusion in China";. see also Chapter 4, below, for a fuller discussion.

Introducti on


to the not uncommon stereotype of theChinese intellectual as having a dualis­ tic nature. The most ambitious treatise thus far on reclusion in earlyChina has argued that "by the end of the Han dynasty most of the major aspects of the Chinese eremetic tradition had already taken shape: the varieties of eremitism and their philosophical rationales, the place of eremitism in the scholarly culture and its integration in the imperial system. as well as the high social standing of hermits and their political influence, were all well established before the Han dynasty came to a close. What happened subsequently to that tradition could with some justification be described as little more than a filling out followed by gradual at­ rophy."1l While the first part of this statement is by and large accurate. I might argue that it is only with the Han that we find the

beginnings of reclusion. and

that it is during the Six Dynasties that the characteristic pattern of substantive reclusion in China is firmly established. The argument may seem somewhat polemical in that it begs the question of what is meant by "reclusion inChina,» but that is precisely the point of this study. In addition, on the phenomenal level there were a number of post-Han developments that are fundamental to a discussion of the history of reclusion in China and its portrayal. These include the suffusion of the Buddhist and Daoist religions; the self-conscious attention to reclusion and the topos of reclusion, which finds expression in intellectual and social attitudes. in historical literature, belles-lettres, and art; a change of



accounts together make up most of the first half of the

Gaoshi zhuan of


Huangfu Mi (215-82) and Ii Kang (223-62; Ji Kang also is romanized as Xi

Kang). But this is the mythos of reclusion. The stuff of reclusion-the lives and

legacies of the so-called recluses-is formulated in brief, sometimes contradic­ tory, hagiographic inculcations. Apart from the paucity of historical materials before the Han, it is the didacticism of the accounts of the recluses that has re­ moved from these enigmatic phantasms the individuals that they once may have been, or, on the other hand, has embossed upon them layers of guise so as to accomplish the same effect. This is really a prehistory of reclusion; it is reclu­ sion in retrospect. I. The historical period of reclusion begins in the Han when the didactic sil­ houettes of reclusion start to be fleshed out with human lives. Perhaps the turning point is symbolized best by the Four Hoaryheads (Si hao), where there is an attempt to return individuality to legend. IS Whereas accounts of reclusion

previously did not go beyond a limited number of sparse and scattered, exag­ gerated, and often incredible anecdotes, with the Han we begin to find indi­

viduals with historical veracity whose names and conduct are linked by their contemporaries and near contemporaries with reclusion as a way of life. Zhi Jun (fl. late 2d c. B.C.E.), reputedly a friend of Sima Qian (145- ca. 86 B.C.E.), refused the route of service and was commemorated posthumously by a

local shrine and sacrifices in his honor. His story is not found in the standard

and may have been somewhat

attitude concerning the so-called natural world. reflected in what might best be

histories (it is in Huangfu Mi's

termed an appreciation of nature and the private life; and the indelible imprint . of a number of Six Dynasties men-in-reclusion.

fabricated by Huangfu Mi or one of Sima Qian's detractors. And "recluses" who

Prior to the Han there were recluses, to be sure. and there were verbalized ideas on the theoretical underpinnings of reclusion. In fact, most of the major paradigms that came to characterize how reclusion has been seen through his­ toriographical hindsight had been formulated by that time.13 There areConfu­ the

cius' pronouncements, reiterated in the

Analects (Lun yu),

Changes (Yi jing or Zhou yi) and elsewhere,

on service or retirement according

Classic of

to the moral correctness of a time or place; and there are Zhuangzi's expositions on the equalization of all things and quietist withdrawal. And there are the ex­ emplar embodi�ents of these paradigms and others: personages as antithetical as Bo Yi and Xu You, or Liuxia Hui and Lu Tong. the Madman ofChu. as well as the nameless recluses from the Lun yu and the figures of the Zhuangzi whose

I2Vervoom. Men ofthe Cliffi and Caves, pp. 236-37. "See Nemoto Makoto, "Kyii. ChUgoku shakai to in'itsu no sonzai igi," pp. 32-44; SatCi lehira, "Inton shisCi no kigen," pp. 23-40; and Aat Vervoom, "The Origins of Chinese Ere­ mitism," pp. 249-95 (reiterated in Men ofthe Cliffs and Caves, PP.l9-73).

Gaoshi zhuan)

embellished, but by all indications he was more than a historiographical foil formerly would be unknown beyond their typecasting now begin to have some

historical touchstones. An example is Zhuang Zun (also known as Yan Zun or

Yan Junping, fl. ca. 34 B.C.E.), famous for divining fortunes in the Chengdu market: he was the mentor of Yang Xiong (53 B.C.E.-18 C.E.), as related by Yang himself. The exemplaryConfucian Han Fu (fl. �o B.C.E.) was summoned in the third lunar month of 80 B.C.E. to appear in the capital along with several others, all of whom had been specifically recommended by local authorities because of their outstandingly virtuous conduct. Emperor Zhao delivered a eulogy, conferred upon them gifts and honors, and instead of employing them in the central ad­ ministration returned them home to serve as moral examples to their districts. 'emtS-tlT-----if!/;c- ---- The Birth o"Landscape poe , � .� �M �e::"',;;� � e'7(i.; � S gn s:--ds�thi:':; )�un on "La " :':' d--= er=st�an P .�7� try pp. 28-29 . Deffil·� have been a variant form of xian (13), which in tum is defined in the Shuowen as passage as indicating qualitative nouns (I'intelligence; la bienfaisance), and not people pos"protracted in life, rising up and away"; see Duan Yucai (173�-1815), ed., �huowen �ezi zhu sessing those qualities. Confucius also said (Lun yu 7115), "Eating coarse (that is, vegetable) 8A.38b. According to Zhu Junsheng, xian (#2) was not specified as a varIant of xtan (13) foods. drinking water, taking bended arm as a pillow, there also is joy to be found therein. either due to oversight or textual corruption; see Shuowen tongxun dingshengI5.813-14. But to be unrighteous and yet have wealth and honor, would be as floating clouds to me." "'This was his reason for presenting his "Rhapsody on the Great Man" ("Daren fu"); One might see in this passage the implication that the joys of a righteous, simple existence see Shi ji 117·3056. were to be found living in the outlands, and that Confucius is offering approval of Bo Yi's "'See Baopuzi neipian, 17.299-314· and Shu Qi's choice of privation in the wilderness (the passage follows a comment that Bo '''Zhuangzi 19129-30 (Watson, trans., Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, p. 201). In Lwhi Yi and Shu Qi did not repine their course of action). Wang Rongbao cites this passage as an chunqiu 14.829-30, Shan Bao is said to have been "proficient in [arcane) arts. He left the example of Yang Xiong's comment that "the ancients pri2ed manifesting [virtue) through vulgar and discarded mundane encumbrances, did not eat grains or fruits, and did not wear starvation"; see Fa yan yishu 17.488_89. But as Legge comments (Confucian Analects, p. padded or quilted clothes. He went to live in a cliffside grotto in the mountain forests in 200), the passage probably refers simply to "the joy of Confucius independent of outward order to preserve his life intact, but before he completed his years he was eaten by a tiger." circumstances." >71


The Portrayal of Redusion in Early China

Patterns and Thematic Archetypes


cultivating his person, his knowledge, or his physical well-being. He is retired

tion in the persona portrayed in the writings of Tao Yuanming.175 This perva­

without having held a position; he leaves the bustle of the world not in pursuit of

sive image, coupled with various other aspects of the imagistic topoi of reclu­

utopian self-sufficiency, not in pursuit of anonymity, not as a means to escape

sion outlined above and further developed below, is central to the portrayal of

harm, not as testimony to his transcendence, and certainly not out of frustration.

abstract reclusion in China that pervades its literature and art.

He does it for his own amusement, to please his own fancy. As Zhuangzi pur­

The figurative examples described in this chapter together form the imag­

portedly said of himself, "I would rather much prefer to please myself sporting

istic repository from which both practitioners and discussions of reclusion in

and playing amidst the gullies and creeks, and have no part of being bridled by

Imperial China drew their inspirations and rationales, their precedents and

one possessing a kingdom. To the end of my life I will not take service, and in that manner I shall please my mind."'n

It may seem that if the Moral Hero is essentially "Confucian," the Un­ troubled Idler is essentially " Taoist."113 However, the figure of the Idler barely precedes the Han, and from the Later Han on is an image apropos of both "Taoist" and "Confucian" traditions.'7' The UntroUbled Idler is relevant as an

models. Some of the examples, the Moral Hero, the Ill-Fated Wretch, the various Paragons of Extraordinary Conduct, and the Perfect Man, are pat­ terned portrayals of mythic and archetypic formulas, patterns of resolution to divergent facets of the fundamental irreconcilability between man and his world-dilemmas perhaps inherent in human existence itself Others, the Immortal, the Untroubled Idler, and Mr. Inconspicuous, are embodiments of

expression of Taoist inclinations because of the shared traits of natural equa­

contrived notions; and yet others, the Wise Rustic and the Anti-Sage, are no

nimity, proclivity for quietism and basic contentment, and apparent lack of

more than didactic personifications.

concern for worldly involvement. He becomes relevant within the Confucian realm because his image is melded with that of the virtuous and worthy gen­ tleman who retires from participation in the affairs of state, regardless of whether withdrawal was voluntary or involuntary. The Untroubled Idler is simply content to pursue an idle life in the uncultivated expanses beyond the dust and din of "civilization," disengaged from the affairs of worldly men. The image of the Untroubled Idler rests behind the formulation of the view of ide­ alized hermitage that develops through the depiction of retirement in such works as Zhang Heng's "Rhapsody on Returning to the Fields" ("Gui tian fu"), Pan Yue's "Rhapsody on the Leisurely Life" ("Xianju fun), and the vari­ ous Western ]in "Beckoning the Recluse" ("Zhao yin") poems. It reaches frui-


The personages foundin early Chinese writings who exemplify the figures outlined in this chapter do not always fit their role exactly. That is because they, as real people, were more complex than allowed by the limits of any par­

ticular role, or because other variables were elaborated onto their legacy to fit

some later writer's polemic. In fact, that the names and deeds of these persons have been recorded at all may be due to their utility, there being no early tra­ dition of biographical writing as such.176 Thus, in terms of what came to be written about them, the individuals were subservient to their roles; and their

legacy is concomitant to their function as representatives of categories of at­ titudes and deeds. Not surprisingly, then, we may see the same figures in un­

related contexts, often playing a part in antagonistic or even antithetical ar­ guments. For example, Bo Yi was praised by Confucius and the "Confucian"

"'Shi ji 63.2145. Cf. Zhuangzi 17/81-84 (Watson, trans., Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, Graham, Chuang-tzu, p. U2), where Zhuangzi prefers to fish in the river and

tradition for his ethical stances,177 served as the hero of the followers of the teachings of the Divine Husbandman,l7· and was portrayed in "Taoist" writ-

"'One example of a typically Confucian view of the role of the wilderness might be that

Lii Shang exemplifies the successful Moral Hero who has met with his


drag his tail in the mud


a tortoise

expressed centuries later by Han Yu

rather than be burdened with the honor of re-

(768-824): "Thus, for gentlemen who would put the Way

into practice, if unsuccessful at court there is but the alternative of the mountains and forests.

Still, the mountains and forests can be found peaceful only by those gentlemen who would cultivate their goodness in solitude and achieve self-sufficiency, not feeling anxious about the state ofthe world. If one feels anxious in his heart about the state of the world, then he will be

unable [to find his surroundings peacefulJ. See "Hou nianjiu ri fu shang shu," in Ma Tongbo,

ed., Han Changli wenji jiaozhu 3.95. Cultivating one's goodness in solitude implies straitened circunIstances, as in Mengzi 7N9 (Legge, trans., Works of Mendus, p. 453): "Men of old . . .

when in straitened circunIstanceS bettered their personal character in solitude."

'''Several examples of Han and Later Han historical individuals who have been por­

trayed as Untroubled Idlers are treated in Chapter 3.

'''For a portrayal of the literary image of the interplay of reclusion and the natural envi­ Chugoku bungaku ni arawareta shizen to shizenkan, pp. 259-71.

ronment, see Obi Koichi,

See also the comprehensive treatment of man and his manifold places of residence in early and medieval China, in Omuro Mikio, Togen no musii: kodai Chugoku no hangekijii toshi, esp. pp. 267-335. and EnTin toshi: chftsei Chugoku no sekaizii, esp. pp. 581-613. '''See Chen Shih-hsiang, "An Innovation in Chinese Biographical Writing," p.

As in the examples from the Lun yu and Mengzi noted above.



"'See Graham, "Nung-chia," pp. 80-84> 95-96. ''''See, for example, Zhuangzi 8/23-33 (Watson, trans.,

pp. 102-3).

Complete Works of Chuang Tzu,

The Portrayal of Reclusion in Early China


time and his ruler, and whose virtue has been requited. But he also is given the uncharacteristic role of enforcer within a system of rule by rewards and pun­ ishments that by its very nature cannot tolerate the individualism of any par­ ticular moral stance. In this role he executes the recluses Kuangyu and Huashi, Worthies of.great renown who lived quietly in Hi's own home district."so Lu's act contradicts the Moral Hero's generally "Confucian" grounding, which in the story is represented by the Duke of Zhou's concern about killing Wor­ thies."81 In another author's hands, however, Lu Shang personally intercedes in behalf of Bo Yi and Shu Qi, enabling them to go off to the mountains and forge their legacy.


On the other hand, the two recluse brothers Kuangyu and Huashi are portrayed in the Han Feizi story as despicable and worthless, precisely because they are not controllable. The same conduct would be hailed by others for embodying the attitudes of the Paragon of Extraordinary Conduct: as men of lofty mettle, they refuse to lower their will, they will not be the ruler's servitor, nor the companion of feudal lords;"" and in the tradition of aloof self­

sufficiency they labor personally for their sustenance, seeking nothing from others. I .. In addition, the two recluse brothers are used as counterpoint illus­

trations beside Duangan Mu to show that one's allotment is due only to one's fated time: had they lived at another juncture, they would have been honored for the very acts for which they were executed."ss The significance of pre-Han practitioners of reclusion thus lies in their rep­ resentative portrayals of resolutions to archetypal predicaments, and their utility

Patterns and Thematic Archetyp es cultural standards, didactic function, and historiographical and literary conven­ tion, and through them we may perceive the storehouse of cultural solutions to recurrent situations. Writing about heroes, Robert Ruhlmann said, Heroes in literature and art express more than the personal opinions and dreams of particular authors. They also embody current values and ideals, and convey a power­ ful image ofthe conflicting forces at work in the society of their time. Superhuman yet human, these prestigious personalitie s inspire and encourage imitation, initiate or re­ vive patterns of behavior, and thus play a significant role in shaping history. Some are created by writers and artists in a definite time and place; others are passed on from ages immemorial by continuous or intermittent traditions. Some are myths which in the course of time were given a historical character; others are figures from history transformed into myths. I.. The individuality of pre-Han practitioners of reclusion is obscured by the un­ reliability of the information concerning them, and because the individuals

were subservient to their portrayal and role. ,s7 Still, the legacy of these person­ ages as individuals is also important. Not only are they the vehicle for the ex­ pression of the thematic archetypes and umbrella figures outlined in this

chapter. In addition, their names, deeds, and attitudes recur over and again in writings having bearing on aspects of reclusion, visible as precedents and allu­ sions in the formulation of views about reclusion and its practice in Imperial China. As we proceed in time, we will see that in the Han, while convention

still dominated the portrayal of reclusion, the protagonists of substantive re­ clusion-those who practiced reclusion as their way of life-began to retain

in the expression of particular systems of values. Their stories exhibit a blend of

their historical individuality.

'''See Han Feizi 13.722-23, and above. See also Baopuzi waipian, 2.77: "Further, the rea­ son that Lii Shang killed Juan and Hua, is that he feared that they would corrupt the masses." According to at least one source, the recluse brothers were from the same place in Qi as was Lii; see Shi ji 32.1477. '''See Han Feizi 13.722-23. See also Lun heng, "Fei Han," 10.152, where Wang Chong

'''Robert Ruhimann, "Traditional Heroes in Chinese Popular Fiction," p. 141. 'I7Sinrilarly, Hans H. Frank�l has investigated historiographical convention in the biog­ raphies ofTang literati, demonstrating that the sources tended to view the literati more as a group than as individuals. See his "T'ang Literati: A Composite Biography." See also Denis C. Twitchett's comments on group biographies, including those of practitioners of reclu. . " Biography," p. 31): "Su€h-€hapters exemplify the desire ofthe historian to establish a common pattern for persons filling a given function, which norm;l­ tive pattern-appropriately related to one or more Confucian virtues-was then designed to have a didactic effect upon his readers."

mShi ji 61.2l23. "'See, for example, Lun heng 10.250: "In Qi there were men of lofty mettle, called Kuangyu and Huashi. . . . They took a stance not to lower their resolve, not to serve one who was not the ruler they sought." '''Their rationale seems little different from that ofShanjuan or Rangfu, or even that of the Tillers. '''See Huainanzi 18.32: "Thus . . . whether one meets with constraint or furtherance de­ pends on the ruler. Kuangyu was executed for not accepting emolument, whereas Duangan Mu declined appointment as Chancellor and was honored. The reason that even though their acts were identical the benefit or harm that befell them was different, is that the times caused it to be so" (shi shi ran ye). On Duangan Mu, see Shi ji 44-1839; Xin xu 5.76-7]; La shi chunqiu 21.1447; and Gaoshi zhuan (Huangfu Mi B.3a-b; Ii Kang, p. 410) .


The Individualization of Reclusion

The actual historical situations of Xu You and Bo Yi are unrecoverable, if

The Individualization of

indeed these legendary figures ever existed at all.3 Still, in time these personages

Reclusion during the Han

accrued biographical data, in much the same way as did Laozi or the famous physician Bian Que: and were the recipients of worship at their purported burial sites and at shrines erected in their honor.s If the development of reclu­ sion in China, or at least its portrayal, can be viewed in stages, then the indi­ vidualization of the figures of reclusion represents the second stage. The more

F R O M L E G E N D T O L E G E ND : T H E C A S E

realistic the portrayal of their lives, the greater the affinity between them and


proponents of their views, and the greater the authority of their actions as

Reclusion in pre-Han China is viewed through anecdotes,

precedents for discretionary conduct. Representative of the process of attaching

parables and mentions of a number of personages, real or legendary, and

historical veracity to vague events and figures of the past is the corpus of ac­

through didactic pronouncements on moral and philosophical stances. Por­

counts of the Four Hoaryheads (Si hao):

trayal of the actual circumstances of reclusion tends to be both ambiguous and

According to the traditional portrayal, these four staunchly righteous eld­

formulaic; historical examples were evoked more for their contextual utility

erly gentlemen withdrew to the Shang Mountains (a good day's ride southeast

than for their intrinsic properties. Embellishment or omission often left con­

of the capital) to avoid the political cruelties of the Qin and to await a more sta-

tradictory accounts, and the stories themselves would seem to be less useful for whatever historically factual information might be gleaned from them than as vehicles for the expression of attitudes.l Nevertheless, in early and medieval China these early protagonists of reclusion were envisioned as historical repre­ sentatives of antiquity who exemplified one or more of the panoply of re­ sponses to recurrent situations with contemporary relevancy--characters whose stories and r�tionales could be evoked metaphorically and allusively with respect to personal or general dilemmas. Consequent to the poignancy ofthe examples ofthese early protagonists ofre­ clusion, the traditions of those who committed themselves to ·a life disengaged from the world of affairs continued to be transmitted-although often sacrificing individual character in favor of universal application. Of course, not all who es­ chewed state employment were remembered, any more than were the

rank and

file of those who served. And some were so successful in their attempt to leave be­

hind no distinguishing traces

mous role in a tradition actually in their own honor. Others, such as Xu You and Bo Yi, achieved such prestigious renown as is accorded to only the handful of persons each millennium who make an indelible contribution to their culture.2 'See Chapten. 'While not specifically addressing these two examples of early practitioners of reclusion,

Qian Mu argues that many ofthe values outlined in the previous section, and especially those components of the figure oithe Moral Hero, as well as the general qualities of humility, def­ erence, and a retiring attitude, constitute the core of the Chinese cultural identity. Qian ar­ gues that these basic values simply are antipodal to those of the West, and are not to be viewed entirely as negative. On the contrary, their time has come. See "Jin yu tui," pp. 1l-17.

'The tales ofXu You and Bo Yi probably contain few recoverable facts; some have argued that even the names are spin-offs from other legendary figures. See the·various articles on the origin.s of tales about these mythical figures cited in Chapter 1. Note also that Wang Zhichang (1837-95) hypothesizes that "Jieyu· originally might have been a part of the narrative about Lu Tong, the Madman ofChu, and not his byname; see Qingxue zhaiji 10.22a-23a.

'Specific allegedly biographical information on Bo Yi can be found in Shi ji 61.2123 n. 2 (Sima Zhen) . On Xu You, see Huangfu Mi's Gaoshi zhuan A.w-3a; note that for Xu You there also is a pedigree of his teachers in Gaoshi zhuan A. la. On Laozi, see Gaoshi zhuan A:6a-b; Shi ji 63.2139; Qian Mu, Xian Qin zhuzi xinian, pp. 202-26i the articles in Gushi man,

vol. 6, pp. 387-684; and Anna Seidel, La. Divinisation de Lao Tseu dans le UWfsme des Han. On

Bian Que, see Shiji 105.2785-94; Zheng Yimin, Shenyi Bian Que de gushi; Morita Denichiro, "Hen Shaku ko,» pp. 15-25i and R. F. Bridgman, "La Medicine dans la Chine antique, d'apres les biographies de Pien-ts'io et de Chouen-yu Yi (chapitre 105 des Memoires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien)," pp. 17-24. 51-61, 102-4. 'Shrines to, and purported grave sites of, Xu You and Bo Yi have been the destination of pilgrims for more than two thousand years, and many commemorative inscriptions for these laces still are extant. Yet it is far from certain that the historical rSJ)�s-1i existed) behind the legends are entombed at, or even once may have resided at, these locations. The principal shrine for Xu You is now at Song shan in Henan. Bo Yi has shrines from Liaoning to Gansu to Zhejiang, but the principal shrine to Bo Yi and Shu Qi, the Shrine to the Two Worthies (er xian d), is just south ofYongji xian, Shanxii this shrine dates from the late third century and still exists alongside the purported burial mounds of the two Worthies. See Mizuno Seiichi and Hibino Takeo, Shanxi guji zh� pp. (and photographs, plates 258-61) ofthe shrine.

257-63, for detailed description

'They also commonly are referred to as the Four Hoaryheads of the Shang Mountains (Shang shan Si hao) or the Four Hoaryheads of the Southern Mountains (Nan shan Si hao). Primary sources for the story about the Four Hoaryheads are Shi ji 55.2044-47i Han shu

40.2033-36, 72.3056; and Huangfu Mi's part 2, no. 10 (pp. 29-91).

Gaoshi zhuan B.7a-b. ce.

also Xin xu, "Shan mou,"

The Individualization of Reclusion


(known ble time. Later they refused the solicitations of the founder of the Han strategy the with g complyin but, posthumously as Gaozu, reg. 206-195 B.C.E. ) , several for capital the in devised by Zhang Liang (d. 187 B.C.E.), they appeared the when gnate heir-desi mOl}ths during 196-195 B.C.E. to aid the cause of the years eighty over be to emperor wished to set him aside. The four men were said were hoary white, old when they appeared at court; their whiskers and eyebrows whence their name.

wishing to The story goes that the emperor had decided to change heirs, of a preferred concu­ name as his successor a young (ten sui) and favorite son (then seventeen sui), bine. Empress Lu, mother of the current heir-designate r, on how best to conferred with Zhang Liang, a trusted strategist ofthe empero r could be empero the persuade the emperor to desist. Zhang reasoned that ess. worthin ignate's swayed only by some sort of demonstration of the heir-des r empero the ed rebuff · Purportedly, the four principled old men had earlier their rule; hed establis himself when he had recruited them to serve in the newly would be a suitable leaving the mountains on the behest of the heir-designate demonstration. (a�d also sumptu­ The four men responded to the earnest and deferential at the residence months ous) request and wer lodged in the capital for several Shizhi.7 They Lu g, Iianchen of an elder brother of Empress Lu, the marquis of successfully by first ignate undertook their charge of protecting the heir-des in late 196 on expediti lobbying to have him replaced as leader of a military emperor the end the In heir. B.C.E., reasoning that it could only bear ill for the in wound a suffered he us, per.sonally led that expedition and, although victorio the and ed worsen ailment battle. Upon return to the capital, the emperor's of his advisors. more he wished to change his heir-against the counsel the emperor, when the for t The story comes to its climax during a banque on his father. The em­ waits he four elderly men attend the heir-designate as of the four men and dress peror is struck by the hoary appearance and stately , and is Ieported to asks therr names. He is greatly-surprised by their IeSponse and fled from avoided have said, "I sought you out for several years, but you are said to four The son?" me.' For what reason do you now follow along my your ser­ ess; brutishn have replied, "Your Majesty slights scholars and favors we dis­ fright in thus vants are high-principled and do not abide debasement, filial, and e human is signate appeared in hiding. We have heard that the heir-de


'In addition to sources named above, some specific information is supplied in Zizhi tongjian 12.399 n. L1l Shizhi died in 19Z B.C.E.; see Han shu 18.680. 'See also Han shu 18. 677: "Emperor Gao . . . sought to grant appointment to the Four Hoaryheads." According to the Baopuzi waipian Z.76, "although he [Gaozul hungered and thirSted after the Four Hoaryheads, he did not coerce them [to come to serve)."

The Individualization of Reclusion and is respectful and caring of scholars; in the empire there are none who would not stretch out their necks, willing to die for the heir-designate. Thus did we your servants come. '" The emperor was duly impressed and forthwith resigned himself to leaving the succession to his appointed heir, Liu Ying; the four eld­ erly gentlemen then took their leave. When the emperor died soon thereafter, Liu Ying acceded to the throne in the fourth month of 195 B.C.E.; he is known posthumously as emperor Hui, reg. 195-188 B.C.E. According to the story, the worthiness ofthe Four Hoaryheads was so great that merely being present in the company of the heir-designate was sufficient to sway the emperor. One surmises from their portrayal that the Four Hoaryheads were legendary in their own time, their collective iconography effectively sup­ planting individuality and personal circumstance.'O Certainly by the time of Sima Qian, about a hundred years later, the image ofthe four men was fixed as a culturally significant symbol exemplifying the virtue (and power) of staunch and resolute principled conduct. Han texts contain numerous references to the four men, collectively, but provide little information on the men as individuals; where names do appear they are sobriquets of the type characteristic of men-in­ reclusion. 1 1 But, as will be seen, memory and mythos effect the portrayal of the men through time and locale, and efforts to unravel the information concern­

ing the four men show traditions that are both general and particular, concor­ dant and contradictory. While the political mythos of their power was most likely the original dis-

'See Shi;i 55.W47; nearly identical � Han shu 40.Z036. U'Hu Sanxing (U3O-1302) comments that the whole business of the appearance of the Four Hoaryheads is much like the persuasion Stories concerning Su Qin and Lu Zhonglian, and thus seems a fabrication of men practiced in the art of polemics; see Zizhi tongjian 12·400, c?mm. Wang Shouren (1472-15z8) is quoted as saying, "I suspect that they were not the genume Four Hoaryheads, but something concoctecbby Zifang [i.e., Zhang Liang). Now the Four Men had already withdrawn from the world for some time, and no one would recognize their appearance and aspect. Thus when Zifang devised his scheme he secretly m�d.e arrangements to bring in others who had hoary white eyebrows and whiskers, giving them stately robes and caps in order to deceive the emperor. But neither can this be known. see Takigawa Kametaro, Shoo kaicha kOsho 55.z8, comm. (the quotation is not found in Wang Shouren's collected works). "In addition to mentions in the Shij� Han shu, and Xin xu, Han references to the four men (either as the "Four Men" [si ren) or the Four Hoaryheads, or one time by their appella­ tions} include Yang Xiong (53 B.C.E.-18 C.E.), "Tie chao" (Han shu 87B-3573; Wen xuan 45.nb) and Fa ran (Sbby n.4a; Wang Rongbao, ed., Fa yan yishu 17.450); Ban Biao (3-54 C.E.), "Wang ming lunD (Wen xuan 52.4b); Xun Yue (148-209), Shen jian (Ch'en Ch'i-yiin, trans., Hsun Yueh and the Mind olLate Han China), pp. 171, 197; Wang Chong, Lun heng 10.151; Ying Shao, Fengsu tongyi (quoted in Taipingyulan 824.7b); and other writings quoted in the notes below. I believe the earliest extant specific textual reference to the men as the "Four Hoary­ heads" (si hao) is found in Yang Xiong's "Tie chao." "


The Individualization of Reclusion

The Individualization of Reclusion


centu es the Four Hoaryheads, within a few tinguishing element in the story of nng endu d titute one of the more poten � the men, collectively, came to cons phy ogra ICon traditional culture. The aslc boIs of reclusion within Chinese n: Huangfu Mi in his Gaosht zhua e Four Hoaryheads was fixed by . 1ei [north of Luoyang, near modem J in He'n Zhi . from all were ds ea aryh Ho The Four mode Xinxian one source, from Ji [northeast of an xian, Henan] , or, according to gong; e �con n gyua The first was called Don Henan west of modem Ji xian) . [were dedica all They . ggon Huan � fourth Xi� 'xianshe�g; the third Qili Ji; and the purpose �ey wo er high a for not If s; selve them J cultiv ting the Way and refining e d the tyEmperor of Qin, when �ey perc � o ed During the time of the Pirst ntian [some ofLa oun the into drew � with way'ofthe Qin government, ther r n . al] and composed a son�, which goes thirty kIn. southeast of the capit ; ntalOS mou Hazy so hazy, the high es. . The deep valley twists and twin pore: Pulgent, refulgent, the purple poly er. hung With it we remedy far, The ages ofYao and Shun are Where might we find a home? Horses in fours, baldachins tall . great too g brin they bles trou The people, butWealth and nobility may awe that can't compare to the way e will.l2 Being poor and humble frees th going to reShangluo region [near Lan�n) , They then to ether set off into the ove rown, was Qm the n settling of the world. Whe elusion at Difei shan to await the

� �:

� � � : : :n:


the Han [emperor] Gao heard of them and summoned them [for office] , but they did not go. They hid themselves deeply in the Southern Mountains; [he) was unable to bend them. 13 In Huangfu Mi's account, too, the image is of worthy and cultivated men who staunchly avoid the tyranny ofthe Qin. But there is no mention of their participation in Zhang Liang's plan to save the heir-designate. In this telling the men retreat to the wilderness, but it is obviously a benign wilderness that furnishes magic mushrooms to appease hunger (at least in a song of their own). This last point sig-

nals a milestone in the development of the portrayal of reclusion, for here we see

heroes withdrawing in a self-righteously "Confucian" mode (rolling up their vir-

tue, as it were, when the Way does not prevail in the state), to a hospitable wilderness where they can maintain their virtue intact without starving to death like Bo Yi and Shu Qi. While the mushrooms in the song may connote gastronomic experiences not entirely mundane (and may be a major factor in the accretion o f fur-

ther arcane aspects to the portrayal of the four men), the Four Hoaryheads are portrayed more as Moral Heroes than as Champions of Unbridled Immaculacy, Immortals, or Untroubled Idlers. This probably reflects a change in attitude toward the wilderness that was already visible in the mid second centll..-" from which time this version ofthe story may date. 14

The conventional portrayal of the Four Hoaryheads, as seen in Huangfu

Mi's recounting, thus functions as a patent formulation for the expression of attitudes concerning reclusion that gain currency during the first several centuries C.E. This portrayal complements the political nature of the earlier traditions concerning the Four Hoaryheads that Huangfu Mi left out (and which, if any­

thing, served to confirm the worthiness of the men-in-reclusion and reaffirm

as the "Song of the Pour e t0 be known · or another, has com . » the validity of the more "Confucian" aspects of withdrawal). Whatever the hisl'Tbis poem , in one version ") The h �01 :� " or the "Song ofthe Southern Hoaryheads" ("Si hao ge") , torical reality of the Four Hoaryheads, their collective image has served to ini 0 come to e ral verses that have separately d th song, ge zhi ("Zi " pore vigorate literature from the mid-Han on as a potent allusion. Traditions of the ! poly urple � zhi cao"), or the "Song of the room une songs are foun m u ' Four Hoaryheads usually treat the men as a coterie (as also do allusions to . . ally part of. a single ditty. Collated verSIons of both . were ongm . ao shI,' "Han shi,n vol. 1, . 90-91. See. also Guo Maoq an . =-=c==;:-i;�---t'-n ----m ----the ), and thiS for the most part has obscured the men as individuals. InforPP .----(e4,Xc'UllI Qin1[,an Wet 1mNanbeuh 0 gongtl, p. 7 · , You ymyt efu shi ji 58 851' and Hong Shunlong gy "Eulo (twelfth century) , comp' Y mation concerning the men individually both contributes to and undermines the from 's ccount ofthe men, is derived gfu H 573-la;' The song, as ell yulan ing Taip see 8)j 104--5 ca. (fl. f sony;') of Cui Qi ( Si to the pour oary Han wen 45.8a. C . "Gaoshi zhuan B.7a bj nearly identical in Taiping yulan 507.5a, and quoted nearly in its 110 ) , Shil ·jUll 221' and Quan Hou y­ Beitang shuchao 106.8aj Wu Shu �947- � Hoar ofthe Tomb ofthe Pour entirety in Yue Shi (930-1007), comp., Taiping huanyu ji 141.9b-lOa. Cf. Taipingyulan 16.8.2.a, d the e�ogy IS call�� this e wher a, 134·:2. ao shuch J in Beitang . y attributed to Cui Yin [?-9:2. quoting Huangfu Mi's Diwang shiji. . that this excerpt IS mcorre heads" ("S'I hao xu ge'" , note and a preface to It e song the e "The story, it is remembered, may first have been told by Cui i (fl. ca. 104--58); in any wher , 58.851 ji shi Quan Hou Han wen 44·7a) . Cf. . also Yuefu tly by Tao case, by the time ofHuangfu Mi's version, about a century later, the wilderness was no longer Tang. The song is addressed direc the of g Hon Cm a to uted rectly attrib incor . ,.., ("Zeng Yang zhangzhi"); see imagined as the wild and fearsome nature portrayed in the "Beckoning the Recluse" poem of . sented to Bureau-chiefyant; ed "Pre n . (365-42.7) m a poem entitl . .. .. .. ' 101 P arts of the "Song of the Pour Hoaryheads the Chu d. On the development ofthe change in attitude toward "landscape" (including the ta JJJ mmg Yuan Tao '! ed., g, Yang Yon Bo Yi and P mountains and the uncultivated outlands in general) during the second and third centuries, ' " ("Cai wei ge") associated with 'Pulse G o r ; see Shi ji see Holzman, Landscape Appreciation in Andent and Early Medieval China, esp. pp. 63-124. om an exclamation of Lu Zhonglian ri u words. Lu's for 9 83.2.46 and , song for the




h Mi � � �::n � :aa:

u: : �a:::e �� :�:fe�� :e �:�

; MUsh� ��; :: :; rri�st lik� Q


�So� J






The Individualization of Reclusion

the collective image had out­ the collective image, and demonstrates that while symbol, attempts were made a as y grown the individuals because of its potenc duals. indivi to (re)particularize traditions about the tions, which effectively are The men are commonly known by their appella Yuangong (Venerable locale: ular anonymous honorifics for Worthies of a partic ng, Elder of the East uango Dongy Yuan, or the Elder of the Garden; also called et); Qili Ji Oi of Qi Haml Lu or Garden); Luli xiansheng (the Master from Luli, gong (Venerable Huang Xia t); and Hamlet, or the Younger Master from Qi Hamle 45) comments (581-6 Shigu Yan Huang of Xia, or the Venerable Elder of Xia).15 thus avoid and ition recogn avoid to that they concealed their real names in order identities, real their to as stions sugge danger; he elects not to list any of the various unravel to le possib be not may It I' due to confusion and lack of reliable references. an ex­ es provid ation inform ble availa the confusion entirely; an exposition of the of tion ropria reapp or n, excisio on, ample of overlapping legends and the additi ion. intent and xt details in favor of conformity with conte machinations of such biograYan Shigu says the confusion is due to the Juan Cheng (fl. Later Han) . and Mi phers and local historians as Huangfu ties of the Four Hoaryidenti real the Vv'hatever Hu.mgfu Mi had to say about they hailed from. Juan where on ents heads has been lost, except for his comm ong; but they are reYuang ) (Dong rning Cheng's remarks are extant only conce Juan, not Yuan, lywas aetual name man's vealing. According to Juan Cheng, the preface to the r's autho his in says He . and he, Cheng, was a direct descendant

The Individualization of Reclusion

quoted writing Yuan, not Juan for the man's surname: "Venerable Yuan (Yuan

sou; or, perhaps, the Elder of the Garden) I• • • • was a Qin Erudite who withdrew

to live in the Southern Mountains upon encountering disorder in the Qin.

When Emperor Hui was heir-designate, he broUght in Venerable Yuan (or, the Elder of the Garden) to be Minister of Education."20 One must assume, nevertheless, that Yan Shigu correctly reproduced Juan


Che g's prefatorial remarks quoted above, for he goes on in an attempt to dis­ credIt them. Yet despite Yan Shigu's misgivings, there is corroborating evidence for writing Juan instead of Yuan: it is "Juan" in the transcription of the in­ scribed stone tablets known as the "Divine Altars and Divine Offerings Tables for [the worship of] the Four Hoaryheads" (" Si hao shenzuo s�enzuoji"), which probably date from sometime in the Han!1 Luo Bi (?-after 1176) and Zhou Mi

(1232-1308) believed that these tablets were engraved during the time of Ern-

"Sou here is an appellation for a venerable elder, and stands for sou (#2), which is the modem fOrm of sou (#); as in the Shuowen), or sou (#4; as in the Fangyan). See Shuowen . ton�n dmgsheng 6.68b-69a; and Yang Xiong, ed., Fangyan 6/55 . See also Cai Yong's "Y�eJing wenda': ( �ai Zhonglangjilo.5b): ·Sou is an appellation for the elders and the aged." Clll s �omment IS m reference to what apparently was the common confusion between the graphic form of sou and other characters having similar grapliic structure. If in this excerpt Yuan was construed as a sumame (as was Juan), then Yuan sou would be "Venerable Yuan" · ' if not, then Yuansou would be an appellation given to an otherwise anonymous individual' - "Elder ofthe Garden"; see below. �e th� Zhengyi comme?tary of Zhang Shoujie (fl. 725) in Takigawa Kametaro, Shiki . _ kalChu kosho 55.22-23; the entire Zhengyi commentary to the relevant Shi ji passage was reconstructed by Takigawa, and it is not in the collated Zhonghua edition of the Shi ji. There Chenliu fengsu zhuan: may have been problems in the transmission of this version ofthe passage from the Chenliu e who withdrew to the Southern MounVenerable Juan [Juan gong] was a Qin Erudit f enKS.u zhuan, for in addition to the question of the first character in the man's name, this er of modern Xi'an]. When the Han found versIOn has the man appointed to office in the central administration by the heir-designate, tains [Nan shan, about 30 km. southeast took te esigna heir-d not go; when the and not by the ruler. [Gaozu] summoned him for service he would s appellation] , was the emperor's posthumou di Hui [sic; ui H �ISee Chen Zhi, Han shu xinzh�g, pp. 377-78; see also the commentary of Wang Rongor Emper as e thron the . . From Venerable Juan until tion [situ] bao m Fa ya?ytshu 17·452. Zhao Mmgcheng (1080-1129) says in his compilation Jinshi lu that I he made Venerable Juan his Minister of Educa e le th dis a t b ts pelled an! earlier misgivings he had had about Juan Cheng's claim of ancestry _-oc ---c:-:nerati' 0 ns · 7 m--'yself, Cheng, there have passed eleven ge ________L---�TT T_"�H"rlffi __ _ _ _ �m see 1m Wenmmg, ed., lmshl Lu JlaoZheng 19.357. Zhao also urttoaryheads; _ _ _____________________________c-__---:----:-c:--__ ing the comspecify out (with here elsew d says that the stelae were found beside Emperor Hui's tumulus (some thirty Ii north of quote is The Chenliu fengsu zhuan Chang'an), and probably had been engraved during the Later Han. In fact, they had been . Cheng),18 but oddly enough. it IS piler, although it would appear to be Juan obtained by a merchant in the early twelfth century from a farmer who had unearthed them at � unspecified locati�n; see colo�hon to them by Huang Bosi (d. ca. 1118 at age forty), part 2, no. 10 (p. 291); Fa yan . "See Shijt 55-2047; Han shu 72.3056; Xin xu, "Shan mou,» wntten the year of thell" acquIsition, m Dongguan yulun This was corroborated B.7a. izhuan Gaosh Mi's Huangfu and ; ) 0 (SbbY11..ta; Fa yan rishu 17-45 sho� thereafter by Hong Shi (11l7-84) in his Li shi 16.5h-6b. Luo Bi (?-after 1176) stated . "Han shu 72.3056 n. 1. uneqruvocally that Huang Bosi was the first to mention the tablets; see "Bian Si hao " in his . Juan If 6 8.115-1 Kuang miu zheng su "Juan Cheng's remarks are quoted in Yan Shigu's Lu shi, �Fa hui," 4.6b. Zileng Qiao (1104-62) also mentions the recent find ofthe tabiets, and he then Qin, the during old) already (and alive Cheng lived eleven generations after someone also beheves them to date from the Han; see Zheng Qiao, comp., Tong zhi 177. 2833. The tab­ Later Han, not in the later part as speculated (Cheng) must have lived in the early part ofthe lets now are lost, but a stone-rubbing of writing from them in clerical script from an undated in most references. but purport�dJy �an sour�e appatently is still in the possession of a Mr. Yang in Wujiang, Ji­ Chenliu qijiu zhuan. see Zhang �Oil the Chenliu fengsu zhuan, sometimes called the angsu; see Liang Plyun, chiefed., Zhongguo shufa daddian, vol. 2, P. 1099. Guogan, Zhongguo gufa�hi kao, pp. 444-46.


The Individualization of Reclusion


peror Hui.22 And Huangfu Mi states in no uncertain terms that stelae were set up and a memorial shrine established for the Four Hoaryheads by Emperor Hui.13 But Emperor Hui died at age twenty-three in 188 B.C.E., less than ten years after the four men appeared in the capital; as Huang Bosi pointed out in a sec­ ond colophon to the tablets dated 11 February 1115, "These are divine altars and tables for offerings: how could they have been set up at that time (i.e., while the four men were still among the living)?"14 Still, most epigraphers believe the tab­ lets to date from sometime during the Han. According to citations of Ying Shao's Pengsu tongyi, the name Juan was changed to Yuan when the Qin Erudite fled danger.2S The Chenliu zhi (probably by Jiang Chang of the Eastern Jin) says that the man was given the appellation "Venerable One of the Garden" simply because he often stayed in the garden;U it also says that the man was surnamed either Yu or Geng or Tang.17 But all of these "surnames" surely are orthographic mistakes for sou, the Venerable (the characters are similar in form), as the man was referred to in both the Chenliu fengsu zhuan and another citation of the Chenliu zhi.28 The Chenliu zhi also tells us that the man's personal name was Bing, byname Xuanming,l' and that he was from Xiangyi in Chenliu.'o To recapitulate, (Dong) Yuangong, the Elder of the (East) Gar en, was Juan Bing, b ame Xuanming; he was a Qin Erudite who went into hiding in the Southern Mountains when disorder broke out. He did not accept office under the founder of the Han but did under Emperor Hui, the second Han emperor. His place of origin may have been Zhi or Xiangyi; "Elder ofthe (East) Garden" was his sobriquet.



"See, respectively, Luo Bi, Lu shi 4.6b, and Zhou Mi, Qidongyeyu 5.75, both quoting the Sanfu jiushi. Inexplicably Zhou Mi records the relevant name as Yuan, but here Zhou is cer­ tainly mistaken, for the three Song epigraphers in the previous note all make a point of the fact that the tablets bear out Juan Cheng's claim. "See Taiping yulan 43.3a, quoting the Gaoshi zhuan (not in the received version). Huangfu Mi is speaking ofthe shrine at Gaoju shan in the Southern Mountains, on which see

The Individualization of Redusion


The Master from Luli (Lu Hamlet),l' according to the Chenliu zhi, was sur­ named Zhou, his personal name was Shu, and his byname Yuandao. He was from Zhi in He'nei and was known around the capital as the Master from Bashang (Bashang was to the southeast ofthe capital), or the Master from Luli. He was a descendant of Taibo (of Wu).12 According to the lost Han shu wai­ zhuan, when summoned for service by the Qin he went into hiding in the Southern Mountains." A separate tradition associates the Master ofLuli with the Wu region in the southeast. The Wu su ji relates: "The Master was a man ofWu, surnamed Zhou. At present, in the islands of Lake Tai (Tai hu) there are Luli Village (Luli cun) and Encampment at Lu Point (Lutou zhai), being where the Master fled the Qin's summons."" The tradition placing the Master ofLuli in Wu was followed by such geographers as Fan Chengda {112D-93)," and has been kept alive in the descriptive travelogues of such prestigious visitors as Yuan Hongdao (15681610) and Wang Siren (1575-1646)." On a visit to Dongting Mountain (actually West Dongting, in Lake Tai, Ji­ angsu) in November 1613, Wang Siren pasSed by Lu Hamlet, where he saw a red camellia tree that purportedly had been planted by the Master ofLuIi. In his rec­ ord of the visit, Wang remarks that matters associated with the Master of LOO are the claim of unverifiable traditions, and he continues, "It simply was current that after leaving Mt. Shang (Shang shan), the Four Elders entered into the Difei [Mountains]. Now, Difei is the San Mao shan ofthe present:7 1ess than 100 li from Tongguan Mountain (Tongguan shan, near present Yixing, Jiangsu, close to the shores ofLake Tai). How do I know that they didn't go offtogether to gather some [magical] purple fungi, purchase an oar (Le., boat) of cassiawood, and go for a "For a discussion of the various orthographies ofthe name "Luli," see Ci tong 4.94. In addition, note that a further homonym for Lu appears m"extant versions of the "Luli xian­ sheng xun" by Po Qin (?-218); see Yiwen leiju 36.655. See also the discussion of the pronun­ ciation of "Luli" by Li Kuangyi (Tang) in his Zi xia lu (in Shuofu san zhong, "Wan wei shan­ 0 chaptervemon, p. 679). , "Quoted in Shiji 55.2045 and Shiki kaichu koshO 55.22 (Suoyin comm.). Bashang is incorrectly written Bagong in a citation ofthe same passage in Tao Yuanmingjijiaojian 9.344. "See Shiki kaichu koshO 55.23. Here the Han shu waizhuan credits the Master ofLuli with a version ofthe "Song ofthe Four Hoaryheads" (on this song, see the notes above). "See the quotation in Qidong yeyu 5.76. Other works quoted in the Zhengyi comm. of Shiki kaichu kOsho 55.23 provide similar information. "See, for instan'ce, his Wu jun zhi 20.301, which quotes from the Zhengyi comm. to the

-----tlCUllW.---i;---�ang"T2 ..Dongguan yulun B.,34b. "Fengsu tongyijiaozhu, pp. 511, 515 (but, cf. the version, probably garbled. cited on p. 534). '"Quoted in Shoo kaichil koshO 55·23, Zhengyi comm.; the Suoyin commentary of Sima Zhen also quotes the passage, with slight differences. In Qidongyeyu 5.76 the same idea is at-

tributed to a certain Zhou Geng. "The same passage is quoted in the Suoyin commentary of the Shi ji with Yu (Shiki kaichu koshO 55.22); in Qidongyeyuwith Geng (5.76); and in Fa yan yishu with Tang (17-451). "Both are quoted in Shoo kaichu kosho 55·22-23, Zhengyi comm. ' ''See Qidong yeyu 5·76; Shiki kaichu kOshO 55·22 (Suoyin comrn., corroborated by the Chenliu Jengsu zhuan, quoted in the Zhengyi comm.). "See Tao Qian's Ii Shengxian qunfu lu (usually referred to as Shengxian qunfu lu), in Yang Yong, ed., Tao Yuanmingjijiaojian 9.343, comm. ofLi Gonghuan of the Yuan. See also Pan Zhonggui «Shengxian qunfu lu xinjian," p. 17.


l6See Yuan's "Xi DongtJ'ng," vua •, n IZong< U da0 JI.. JlanJlao .. .. 4.161; and Wang'S "yOU Dongtmg . shan ji," in Wu Qiushi (fl. 1719), ed., Tianxia mingshan youji, "Jiangnan," pp. 62-69. ' see beIow. San Mao shan is Mao shan in Jurong, Jiangsu. "0n DifieJ,


The Individualization of Reclusion

romp in the clouds and upon the water?"38 In other words, ifthey went into hiding not far from here, perhaps they did come here on an outing. The Four Hoaryheads, and in particular the Master of Lu Hamlet, had been incorporated into Daoist miracle tales/' to which \yang Siren alludes, and some of these traditions about the Master of Luli also locate him in the southeast. Xie Lingyun (385-433) wrote that "the oldsters [in the vicinity of modem Nancheng xian, Jiangxi] relate that [the Han adept] Hua Ziqi (of Huainan) was the disciple of [Master] Lull."" Further, a famous Daoist saint of the Sui and Tang known as Zhou Yinyao claimed to be a descendant of the master; he related that on Dongting Mountain there were both the shrine to the master and a village named after him, and that for several generations family members had achieved transcendence.41 In summation, the traditions about the Master of Lu Hamlet say that either he was from Zhi in He'nei, or from Wu in the southeast. Named Zhou Shu, he supposedly was a descendant of Taibo, which may account for Wu's claiming him as a native son." He refused to accept employment under the Qin and fled to the Southern Mountains; at some time (probably later), he may have retired to Wu, where he became part ofthe local lore. In Wang Siren's outing, before he got to Lu Hamlet, he had asked for the spot at which the Elder of the East Garden (i.e., Juan Bing) had stayed in seclu­ sion, but no one could be found with any knowledge of it. Just before reaching Lu Hamlet, however, he passed by what was known as Qili's former residence (Qili guju) and Venerable Huang's Font (Huanggong quan).43 There is not much evidence for the identity of Qili Ji (Ji of Qi Hamlet) beyond the hyp.o­ thetical and conflicting names Zhu Hui or Wu Shi.44 For Xia Huanggong (Venerable Huang ofXia) there is somewhat more. ""You Dongting shan ji," p. 67. Gathering magical fungi is a reference to the "Song of the Four Hoaryheads, " on which see above. "See below. "See Xie's You mingshan zhi, in Yan Kejun (1762.-1843), comp., Quan shanggu Sandai Qin Han Sanguo Liuchao wen, Quan Song wen 33J.b. The same passage is (perhaps) incorrectly at­ tributed to Xie's Shanju tu in Li Shan's (?-689) commentary to Wen xuan 2.6.3Ia. Xie elsewhere relates that when he visited Hua Ziqi's immortal haunts there were no longer any remnants of " the past existence ofthe local immorta1s. See Xie's "Ru Huazigang shi Mayuan disan gu in Wen Xilan 2.6.31a-b; trans. byJ. D. FrodshanI, TheMurmuringStream, VOl. l, p. 155. "See Du Guangting (850-933), comp., Xian zhuan shiyi 2..37. See also Wu jun zhi 40.563-

4; Taipingguangji 6.42.; andXuan pin lu 4-99.

42'fhe Taibo cult is centered at Mei shan, northeast of modem Wuxi, Jiangsu; during the spring, large crowds still gather at Mei shan to honor Taibo's memory. O"You Dongting shan ji," pp. 65, 67. "See Chen Fen, Tong xingming pu, quoted in Peng Zuozhen, Gujin tong xingming dacidian 1.2.01. There is no information concerning a specific location for Qi Hamlet.

The Individualization of Reclusion


According to the Chenliu zhi, "Venerable Huang ofXia was surnamed Cui, his personal name was Guang, and his byname Shaotong. He was a native of Qi; he lived in reclusion in Xia Hamlet (Xia Ii) cultivating the Way, and so was talled Venerable Huang (i.e., Elder) ofXia."45 Sima Zhen notes that some con­ sider Huang ofXia Hamlet to be the same person as the Venerable Huang ofDa Hamlet (Da Ii). He quotes the Guiji dianlu saying that the grave of Venerable Huang of Da Ii is in Yin xian, Zhejiang, and corroborates this information by quoting the Yudi zhi: "In Yin there is Da Hamlet, being where the Venerable Huang of Xia resided. At present in Yin xian there is a temple to Venerable Huang."'" The appellations indeed refer to the same person, despite the discrepancies. Further evidence comes from a captioned painting on a plaited bamboo basket from a late Later Han tomb at Lelang Commandery (modem Pyongyang, N. Kprea; the basket now is held in the National Museum, Seoul). The lacquered portions of the basket depict more than ninety virtuous exemplars, and one side of the lacquered rims shows the Four Hoaryheads alongside Emperor Hui:7 There are three captions, and one of them clearly does appear to write "Venera­ ble Huang of Da Hamlet" ("Da Ii Huanggong"). While this in itself might ulti-

"Quoted in the Suoyin comm. to ShiH kaichu kosho 55.2.2; "Huang" is understood as an honorific. The Zhengyi comm. (55.2.3) quotes a Cui shi pu with a nearly identical passage. Elsewhere the Cui shi pu is quoted giving the man's personal name as Guo, or Kuo; see Tao Yuanmingjijiaojian 9.343 n. 2. (Guo), and Pan Zhonggui, "Shengxian qunfu lu xinjian;" P. 17 (Kuo ) . . �ee.Shiki kaic u kosho 55.2.2., Suoyin comm. The tradition of the man's grave being at Yin XUIn IS repeated In a quote of an early gazetteer for the region. He Mengchun (1474-1536) quotes a version ofthe Simingzhi as saying: "At Dayin Mountain (Dayin shan) in Yin there is �� gr�.ve ofVenerable Huang, beingthe place where the man was buried"; see Tao Yuanming )1 JUloJum 9.343 n. 3 (�an Zh��ggui, "Shengxian qunfu 11£ xinjian," p. 18). Dayin shan is just no�east ofYuyao XUIn, ZheJ�ang. Two of the earliest extap.t Siming zhi contain biographical en�es for Venerable !iu�g �I.e., Guang), but his grave is not mentioned in the entry for Daym shan. See Baoqtng SlmtngzhI 8.Ia-b; and Yanyou Siming zhi 4.1bff, 7.18a. ; ;-. "'5 -c 4"" te"'S' haifi pl ,n p.·l"O"f�-. 11 l' 'if vO , "' an"'d�" , 48 o�orsuktz" - ', ., • _, -_ 0 0 • Yoshika�a KO�lfO s appended remarks �n the portraits, "Lelang chutu Han qie tuxiang kaozheng" Chinese . See also C en Zhi, Han shu xinzheng, p. 378; and Audrey Spiro, Con­ templattng the Anaents, AesthetIC and Social Issues in Early Chinese Portraiture, pp. 33-35 (plate 12. reproduces the relevant portion of the depictions) . In one of the three captions to the set of figures, Si hao is written with the homonym hao (#2.). Yoshikawa reads the first character of the caption as "nan," and thus "Nan shan Si hao" ("Four Hoaryheads of the Southern Mountains"). Hamada K6saku, one of the editors of the volume on the Han tomb, reads the first graph as "zhang," and reasons that "zhang" is a mistake for the homophone "Shang," and thus that the caption reads "Shang shan Si hao" ("Four Hoaryheads of the Shang Mountains"). See the discussion in Rakuro saikyo tsuka, p. 1 of Yoshikawa K6jir6's ap. pended remarks.



The Individualization of Reclusion

The Individualization of Reclus io n


mately be the result of an artisan's misunderstanding," it also could confirm

in fact. Four elderly Confucian officials of the Qin, of whom at least one and

that at least by the late Later Han, one of the Four Hoaryheads was known as

perhaps all four held the capacity of Erudite,Sl left their positions and retired,

either Huanggong of Xia Hamlet or Huanggong of Da Hamlet; at the least it

perhaps but not necessarily communally, to the countryside near Lantian,

confirms that the southeastern tradition about the latter indeed concerns one of

about a day;s ride southeast of the capital. 52 It is possible that they visited the capital in early 195, ostensibly in behalf of the heir-designate, but perhaps in

the Four Hoaryheads. The southeastern tradition for Venerable Huang has local support from the second to third centuries C.E. In a discussion in which he strongly promotes the

defense of Confucian tradition.'3 One or more of them returned to official service, while one or more may have retired to the southeast.

superiority of his native Guiji, Yu Fan (164-233) mentions some of the area's

There is evidence of a strong tradition dating from at least the Later Han

notable Worthies. One of them is our man: "Venerable Huang of Da Hamlet in

that associates Venerable Huang with the Guiji area, and we may assume that

Yin kept himself untainted during the age of the tyrannical Qin. When Gaozu

the historical man went there to retire. The tradition that associates the Master

took the throne, he did not succeed once in bringing in [Venerable Huang]; but

of Luli with Wu, however, is later and intangible. In any case, Wang Siren cer­

when Emperor Hui showed respect and humility, Huang came forward to the

tainly is mistaken when he remarks that the Difei Mountains to which the Four

aid of the troubled times·."" Yu Fan goes on to say of Venerable Huang and the

Hoaryheads retired is the same as San Mao shan, and thus not far from Lake

others he mentions that they all may be found among the written records, and

TaL Difei shan is the name for a number of different locales, and one of them is

are not to be compared to fabulous legends like those ofXu You and Chaofu. As

indeed in Jurong, being the first of the seventy-two Blessed Lands (fu di) of the

far as Yu Fan was concerned, then, Venerable Huang ofDa Hamlet was a true

Daoists.54 However, the place where the Four Hoaryheads initially went into re-

historical personality, who hailed from Guiji. The same sentiment is seen again a few decades later in a response by Xia' Tong (mid third century) to a question by Jia Chong (217-82) about the local temperament in Xia's native GuijL Xia says: "The men there are models for conduct There still


be found [in the locals] traits transmitted from the

Great Yu, the rigqteous humility of Taibo, the unassailable resolve ofYan Zun (i.e., Yan Guang), and the lofty mettle ofVenerable Huang."so To sum up, the Venerable Elder (Huang) of Xia might have been a man named Cui Guang (or Guo/Kuo) who hailed from Qi. He fled from the Qin but might have served during the Han. He may have retired to a mountain in Yin, Zhejiang, the supposed location of his grave; in any case, local traditions of the area consider him a countryman. There are many unresolvable contradictions about the true identities of the

FoUl IIoaxyheads, but there-is-little-reason to deny the legend's one


"Yoshikawa Kojiro ("Lelang chutu Han qie tuxiang kaozheng") has a very appealing suggestion that the caption actually refers to two persons: Luli [xianshengl and [Xial Huang­ gong. He reasons that "Da" in this caption is a mistake for "Liu" (the number "six"), due to the similarity in form of the two graphs, and that "Liu" here stands for the homophonous word "Lu." I might further suggest that the Liu/Lu confusion, and perhaps, too, a common iconography for the Four Hoaryheads in the decorative and funerary arts, of which the Le­ Jang basket would be an example, is at the heart of the Xia HuanggonglDaJi Huanggong discrepancy. "Guiji dianlu, quoted in the commentary by Pei Songzhi (372-451) to Chen Shou (233297), comp., Sanguo zhi 57.1326 n. 2. See also LuXun, comp., Guijijungushu zaji, pp. 59-00. "See Jin shu 94.2429. '

"The Sanfu sandaijiushi is quoted as saying: "The Four Hoaryheads were Erudites of the time of the Qin"; see Li Shan's commentary to Wen xuan 57.15b; and Liuchen zhu Wen xuan 57.20b (p. 1059). Cui Qi says that they all were Qin Erudites who fled the persecutions of the Confucians at the hand ofthe First Emperor of Qin; see his "Eulogy to the Four Hoaryheads" in Taiping yulan 573.13; and Beitang shuchao 106.8a. Cf. Yuefu shi ji 58.851, where the state­ ment, as well as an accompanying "Song of the Four Hoaryheads," is attributed to a Cui Hong ofthe Tang. "Note that the Master ofLuli also was known as the Master ofBashang; during the Qin, Bashang and Lantian were contiguous. He Mengchun comments that the four were great men oftheir day, but there is no reason to assume that they all necessarily retired to the same place; see his comments in Tao YJianming ji jiaojian 9.344 and Pan Zhonggui, "Shengxian qunfu lu xinjian," p. 18. "Homer H. Dubs sees the Four Hoaryheads as powerfully influential Confucians, whose appearance on behalf of the heir-designate was the decisive"factor in Gaozu's acquiescence to Confucianism; see The History ofthe Former Han Dynasty, vol. 1, p. 2.2; cf. Vervoom, Men of the


between Zhang Liang and the

Four Hoaryheads included in the Xiaoshuo ofYin Yun (471-529) is of no help in understanding, the Four Hoaryheads, for it is really a Six Dynasties literary exercise. See Quan Han wen 14.2a-b; Yu Jiaxi, "Yin Yun Xiao shuo jizbeng," pp. 298-99; and Zhou Lengqie, ed, Yin Yun Xiao shoo 2.56, n. In his account of the Four Hoaryheads, Zhu Changwen (1039-98) sees the four as with­ drawn Worthies (i.e., virtuous men who withdraw in dark times), and he poses the rhetorical question ofwhy the four did not just come out ofretirement when the Qin had passed and the Han arisen. He goes on to surmise that, perhaps, "when Gaozu summoned them the formalities were insufficient, so they did not go. When the heir-designate summoned them the formalities 'lYtre sufficient, so they did. But in their estimation the heir-designate's talents were inadequate for any acts oflasting significance, so even though they had come, they left once more." See Zhu Changwen's Qin shi3.43. "See Yunji qiqian 27.406. The name actually should be Dizi (or Dizi #2), as it appears in

The Individualization of Reclusion

The Individualization of Reclusion

tirement from the Oin was the Difei shan (Le., Zhongnan shan; see below) in

The Four Hoaryheads purportedly retired to the mountains south of the

the Southern Mountains within the jurisdiction ofLantian. Huangfu Mi writes:

capital on purely Confucian grounds, but their legacy outgrew the "Confucian"

"Together they [i.e., the Four Hoaryheads} removed to Shangluo and went into

tradition. According to a fourth-century quotation of Kong Anguo's Esoteric Re­

reclusion at Difei shan to await the setding of the world. "55 Difei shan was just

cord, " [Zhang]

one of many names for Zhongnan shan, ofwhich a list is found in the Tang gaz­ etteer Kuodi zhi: "Zhongnan shan: another calls it Zhongnan shan (#2), another

Liang fully was guided by them and received their magical formulas."" And a quotation from the Shenxian zhuan likewise relates that "the Four Hoaryheads

shan [emended by the editors from Tai shan] , another Zhounan shan, another

of Shang Mountain imbibed the Nine-times Compounded Elixir

sion of the · Four Hoaryheads in the Southern Mountains, at another of its

esoteric traditions in the southeast concerning the Master of Lu Hamlet. An­

Blessed Lands: Shanggu shan.S?

other quotation from the Shenxian zhuan tells us further that the Master of Luli

Localization of the place to which the Four Hoaryheads purportedly with­

passed on to Hua Ziqi some magical recipes that allowed one to walk five hun­

drew during the Oin actu�y is not problematic, despite the plethora of dispa­

dred Ii in a day, heft a thousand jin, and change one's skin ten times in a year."

Gaoshi zhuan Huangfu Mi mentions Lantian, Difei, and

Similarly, Ii of Oi Hamlet is credited with an alchemical formula that will pre­

Zhongnan Mountains-in reality one locale. Li Daoyuan (?-526) notes that the

vent death upon imbibing, and another that will produce yellow gold."

men retired to Chu shan, but we have just seen that it also is the same locale;'" a

Efforts to reconstruct the actual circumstances about the Four Hoaryheads

further tradition places the men at Xionger shan, but that too is another name

demonstrate that at least by the Later Han there had arisen a cult about the group

for mountains in the same locale.s9 Finally, Gaoju shan, the site of a shrine and

as a whole, and that the individuality of the men had become overshadowed by

stelae to commemorate the famous men, is but another name for one of the

the image of the group as a whole. At the same time, however, traditions arose to

hills in the same region."

develop a new, often arcane, individuality for at least several of the individuals. Commemorative stelae were erected for the Four Hoaryheads as a group and for each of the members; sacrifices were performed at shrines in their honor,'s and their legend was incorporated into literature, alchemical lore, organized religion,

e 1j:�inXuJialli6 ---n9), cOmp.�GbJl.m� it i£M1ttennizLalsnoj _the_Xjn_sbj�(ltLQittjkaHlUD59----'1


_ _


ji 5.105.

"See Yunji qiqian 27.410; Shanggu shan is the Fifty-eighth Blessed Land. "See Shuijingzhu 20.21a-b. . According to a quotation of the Sanfu sandai jiushi, the Four Hoaryheads escaped the Qin at Xionger shan; see Li Shan's commentary in Wen xuan 57.15b; and Liuchen zhu Wen xuan 57.wb. Xionger shan would be located ten Ii west of Shangluo in Shangzhou according to Kuodi zhi 4.201. According to certain Books ofthe Transcendents (Xian shu), one could gain transcendency by ingesting a plant substance grown on the mountain (see Taiping huanyu ji 141.10a}; the arcane connotations of this locale may be connected to, or may have helped foster, arcane traditions about the men. "See Taiping yulan 43.3a, quoting the Gaoshi zhuan (this passage is not present in any extant versions of the Gaoshi zhuan): "Atop Gaoju shan there are the Four Hoaryheads' 59

(jiujia san),

and feeding on sap attained the Way. "62 As seen above, there were particularized

Difei shan."s, Moreover, the Daoist tradition itself localizes the place of reclu­

the Zhen gao (IT 1010, 11.139) of Tao Hongjing (456-536). The characters fei and zi com­ monly were written one for the other due to graphic convergence. In the Han, the two were distinguished only by a short stroke; see Shuowenjiezi zhu 4B.21b, 39a. The character fei also was written for fu (12), perhaps due to confusion over the latter's abbreviated form: fu (#3); one further indication of convergence is that fu (#1.) and zi are synonymous. See Fang yan U/7 on the sinrilar convergence of zi (#2) and zi (#3), which had right-side components matching those offei andzi. "Gaoshizhuan B.7b. "Kuodi zhi ofLi Tai (seventh century), quoted in Shi ji 2.66 n. 8. Note that Difei shan is written Dizi in other versions of this same passage; see He Cijun, ed., Kuodi zhijijiao 1.8. And

Liang originally had served the Four Hoaryheads, and those of

the ilk of the Master of Lu Hamlet and Ji of Oi Hamlet were all transcendents.

Taiyi shan, another Nan shan, another Iu shan, another Chu shan, another Oin

rate references. In the


commemorative stelae and shrine. These all were erected by Emperor Hui of the Han. It is the place to which Empress Gao of the Han sent Zhang Liang to receive the Four Hoaryheads, and thus is called Tall Carriage Mountain." On the various names for the same general locale, see also Taipinghuanyuji 141.9b-13b. "See KongAnguo bij� quoted in Baopuzi neipian 5.113. "This passage is quoted by Wang Songnian of the Tang in his autocommentary to · l1l-.2:tIU-\L1�A.15b. The passage quoted is not found in any£@ceive4ve'flISruioCIJnllis>---_AUi!tl}llW1lLDU ofthe Shenxian zhuan of Ge Hong. The Xiulian da dan yaozhi (IT 911), probably dating from the Northern Song, records several alchemical formulae supposedly associated with the Four Hoaryheads. See Hu Fuchen, chiefed., Zhonghua Daojiao dacidian, P. 1419; and Ren Jiyu, ed., Dao zang tiyao, no. 0906. "Quoted in Xianyuan bian zhu A.19b. See also Yunji qiqian 109.1499; and Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian 5.2a-b, whose quoted versions differ only slightly. Again, the passage has been lost from the received Shenxian zhuan. "See Baopuzi neipian 5.81, quoting Qili's CinnabarMethod (Qili dan fa). "In addition to local shrines for one or more of the individuals, there is a collective shrine for the four of them near Danfengxian, Shaanxi, at what is purported to be their grave site. See Shaanxi sheng difangzhi bianzuan weiyuanhui, eds., Shaanxi sheng zhi, vol. 66, Wenwu zh� pp. 86-87. (This work also lists another purported grave site nearby at Shang xian, Shaanxi, with a shrine facing it across the river.)

_ _

The Individualization of Reclusion


local traditions, and decorative art.'" The geographical spread of their legend

The Individualization of Reclusion


more of the entries, however, concern personages who, despite a paucity of

stretched at least from Korea in the northeast, to Chang' an in the west, to Zhejiang

concrete evidence in their stories, in all likelihood had an actual historical exis­

in the southeast. And commensurate with the diffusion of the formalized legend

tence. Two of these have only vague accounts;n Zhi Iun's account may have

concerning the Four Hoaryheads as a group was the particularizing and localizing oflore associated with each ofthe individuals.


The individualization o f the figures o f reclusion, approximately coincident with the consolidation of a unified empire, is typified in tra­ ditions about the Four Hoaryheads. The same process is conveniently encap­

Gaoshi zhuan.

Nearly 90 percent of the forty-three pre-Han characters are either totally con­ trived;"7 legendary figures so lacking in historical evidence that their historicity

is doubtful at best;"· or protagonists of didactic anecdotes whose existence

stretches plausibility, and for whom there is little information beyond what ap­ pears in Huangfu Mi's Gaoshi zhuan.'9 Only four or five have a relatively credi­ ble factual basis for existence.70

Upon examination, the sixteen entries for Former Han characters include only one that is purely imaginary (Huangshi gong, Lord Yellow Stone), and seven whose depiction is so iconographic that any factuality is uncertain/' Five "In addition to examples mentioned above, the �piction of the Four Hoaryheads was one of a number of thematic motifs that might be found as tomb decor for the nobility. For an example, see Annette L. Juliano, Teng-hsien: An Important Six Dynasties Tomb, p. 26 and fig. 73. On the pervasive role of the Four Hoaryheads in Japanese painting, especially during the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries, see Kendall H. Brown, The Politics of Reclusion:

Painting and Power in Moyoyama lapan.

"Mantle-Clad (Pi yi); Wang Ni; Nieque; Nest-dweller (Chaofu); Shanjuan; Man-of-the­ . . ); the F�­ Soil (Rangfu); Farmer of Stone Portal Shihu zhi non ); Cattail-Clothed ( the Panruer zhangren); (Jiangshang River Jiang the Cloaked Elder (Pi qiu gong); the Adept by Hefter (He kui); Guardian of Stone Gate (Shimen shou); the Adept Hefting a Basket (He xiao zhangren); the Adept by the South Bank ofthe Han (Hanyin zhangren); the Fisherman (Yufu). "Xu You; Zizhou Zhifu; Shang Rong; Laozi; Gengsang Chu; Laolaizi; Lin Lei; Rong Qiqi; Changju and Jieni; Lu Tong; Huqiu Zilin; Lao Shang shi; Lie Yukou (Liezi); Chen Zhongzi: "Xiaochen Ji; JUan Gao; Dongguo Shunzi; Gongyi Qian; WangDou; Yan Chu; Master Qlan Lou (Qian Lou xiansheng)j Anqi sheng; the Adept by the He River (Heshangzhangren). "'Confucius' disciples Zeng Shen, Yan Hui, and Yuan Xian, and perhaps Zhuang Zhou and D-uangan Mu. "Venerable Yuechen (Yuechen gong); Venerable Gai (Gai gong); the Two Summoned Scholars of Lu (Lu er zhengshi); Master Wang (Wang sheng); Venerable Cheng (Cheng gong); the Four Hoaryheads; and the Old Man ofPengcheng ( Pengcheng laofu) As de�on­ : strated above, despite the imprecision of accounts of the Four Hoaryheads, and m particular .

ality.13 For Zheng Pu and Li Hong, in particular, there is compelling testimony for their historicity.74 The remaining three Former Han accounts inspire full


sulated in the entries in the received version of Huangfu Mi's

been enhanced, but there is little question that it concerns a historical person­

confidence in the factuality underlying the events and the persons: the accounts of both Han Fu and Song Shengzhi include dated events{5 and Zhuang Zun (commonly known as Yan Iunping) was the onetime instructor of Yang Xiong,

as related by Yang himselF" As will be shown, of the twenty-nine entries for

Later Han personalities, only two are anonymous," the rest being characters whose stories may be anecdotal but whose historicity is not problematic. As the portrayal of substantive reclusion comes to include more and more real persons, it begins to become possible to view the realities of reclusion as a chosen way oflife. In the Former Han, accounts of the so-called recluses still are rather sketchy. Even so, there is much valuable information about some ofthese persons and their influence on reclusion. Furthermore, specific actions taken by a number of historical individuals of the Former Han, as well as the ration­ ales behind the acts and their contexts, contribute substantially to the formula­ tion ofattitudes about reclusion.

Huangfu Mi's account, there likely was some historical basis for the existence of the men. The Old Man ofPengcheng is discussed below . nTian He and Anqiu Wangzhi. "Vervoorn has translated the letter from Sima Qian to Zhi ]un and its reply (Men of the Cliffs and Caves, PP. 1l3-14), however he takes the unsupported approach that the story about Zhi Jun was fabricated by Huangfu Mi for his disciple Zhi Yu (d. 312). In addition to Huangfu Mi's account, fragments of the letter from Zhi Jun to Sima Qian not found in the Gaoshi zhuan are quoted in the commentary to the Wen xuan (5.9b, 2425b), as is a couplet from a poem attributed to Jun. Jun's twelfth-generation descendant'Xun was a noteworthy scholar (he was the teacher ofMa Rong) who shunned public service in the Later Han; see Huangfu Mi's Gaoshiznuan C sb Huangfu Mi's notice may have be�n deri...·ed from the com to the Sanfu juelu of his student Zhi Yu (the Zhi family was from the Sanfu area around the capital, Chang'an), or from a Zhi family genealogy such as the one quoted in the commen·tary to Shishuo xinyu 2/42. Zhi Yu was particularly attentive to genealogical accuracy, and himselfwrote a lengthy treatise on the subject out of concern that with the loss offamily registers that had occurred during the disorder at the close of the Han, those born just a generation or two later could no longer tell one about their ancestors; seelin shu 51.1425. "Zheng Pu and Li Hong are discussed below. "Han Fu was recommended in 80 S.C.E.; Song Shengzhi died in 3 C.B. Both of these men are discussed below. "Zhuang Zun is discussed below. "The Hidden One by the Eastern Sea (Donghai yinzhe), and the Old Man by the Banks ofthe Han (Hanbin laofu).

The Individualization of Reclusion


The Individualization of Reclusion

Han Fu was honored personally by the emperor for his exemplary conduct,

Elsewhere we are told that "Han Fu of Zhuo Commandery came to the

and he came to represent, in a sense, the historical beginning of imperially

capital, having been summoned for audience on account of his virtuous con­

sanctioned retirement. However we know virtually nothing about the man's

duct." In this account the edict is repeated, but with reference only to Han Fu;

circumstances, except that he was given entitlement to treatment normally ac­

furthermore, the honors accorded him are stipulated a bit differently.8l What is

corded to emeritus senior officials. An entry in the Han shu "Annals of Emperor

of paramount importance in this account, however, is the context in which it is

Zhao" ("Zhao di ji") records the event as follows: In the third month [of the inaugural year of the Yuanfeng reign, mid

related, some eighty years after the fact: it demonstrates the significance of Han Fu's retirement in terms of the development of reclusion and attitudes toward

80 B.C.EVa fifty

retirement and withdrawal.

rolls of bundled silk were presented to each of five men including Han Fu of Zhuo

Commandery [Zhuo jun, modern Zhuo


This account of Han Fu comes in the context of the ranking elderly states­

Hebei, just southwest of Beijing City) ,

who had been selected by the commanderies and kingdoms as "men of approbatory conduct and fealty" [you

xing yi zhe);

men Gong Sheng (68 B.C.E.-n C.E.), to whom we will return presently, and Bing

the men were sent home. The imperial edict

Han (fl. 7 B.C.E.-2 C.E.) beseeching Wang Mang to be allowed to retire for rea­

proclaimed: "We feel compunction about burdening them with the affairs of official

sons ofage and ill health. After providing the historical aside about Han Fu, Ban

duties. Let them endeavor to cultivate filial devotion and brotherly respectfulness, and

Gu tells us:

so edify their home districts.79 It is ordered that the commanderies and prefectures

shall punctually on the new year present them with a sheep and wine. In the case of

Wang Mang then in accordance with the precedent

[gu shi),

announced he would

dismiss Sheng and Han. An edict proclaimed: "Today, the fourth day of the sixth

something untoward [Le., death ) , they shall be presented one set of burial shroud and ao

coverlet, and sacrificed to with the medium offering [of a sheep and a pig]."

month of the second year of the Yuanshi reign [first of July,

2 C.E.],

the two elders,

Imperial Household Grandee [Gong Sheng) and Grand Palace Grandee [Bing Han]

"Tec!mically speaking, there was no t!>ird month LTl the fi1st year ofthe Yuanfeng reign, as that reign was inaugurated in the eighth month; however, the new reign title apparently was adopted retroactively, back to the beginning ofthe calendar year. See Han shu 7.225-26. "Cf. Lun yu 112, where Confucius' disciple You Ruo declaims: "In terms of demeanor, few indeed are those who practice filial devotion and fraternal respectfulness that would en­ joy offending against their superiors. . . . The Superior Man devotes his efforts to the root; when the root is establisbed, courses for its implementation arise. Filial devotion and frater­

shall cease their duties due to age and illness." The Grand Empress Dowager sent the

Supervisor of the Receptionists to issue an imperial edict to them, which said: "It is

heard that of old, when those holding office came to advanced age, they retired from

office; in this way their resignation was respected and their energies not exhausted. At the present, the Grandees' years have advanced, and We would feel compunction at

troubling them with the affairs of official duties. Let them present their sons, as well as

one each of grandchildren, brothers, and sons of brothers. Let the Grandees cultivate ·

nal respectfulness-are they not the root of benevolence?" See also Lun yu 2121 on the Mas­ ter's views that through filiality one furthers governance even while not in office. "Han shu 7.225. Huangfu Mi's account of Han Fu (Gaoshi zhuan B.9b) specifies the cir­

their persons and cleave to the Way, and thus finish their long years. They shall be


in accordance with the Han Fu precedent. The male progeny they present all shall be

granted bundled silk and [the privilege of] lodging in the official guest houses while on their journey, and at the new year be granted a sheep, wine, a tunic, and a cloak, all

cunlstances of the man's nomination, and adds that Han Fu never actually made it to the Han Fu . . . gained renown for his conduct and fealty, refinement and purity. During the time of Emperor Zhao, General Huo Guang [d. 68 B.C.E.) was in control ofthe govern­ ment and petitioned [to the throne] t�lllDletld_right�j)JlS hi,'to·�""" m... n-J,J''''' e.. .--5e",nlltl...e.. ·" the__ commanderies and kingdoms made selections and forwarded conduct evaluations. The

emperor declared that the conduct and fealty of five men, including Han Fu, were of the highest caliber, and that they should be summoned on account of their virtuous con­

duct. When he (Han Fu) got to the Jingzhao suburbs he fell ill and could go no further. In the inaugural year of the Yuanfeng reign, [the emperor) issued an edict stating, "We feel compunction about burdening Fu with the affairs of official duties. He is to be pre­ sented fifty rolls of bundled silk and be dispatched home. Let him endeavor to cultivate filial devotion and brotherly respectfulness, and so edify his home district." Fu returned home, and for the r� ofhis life did not serve; he died at home. Huangfu Mi's clarification of the circumstances ofHan Fu's summons to court may be based on an imperial decree issued in the second month of the year preceding Han Fu's trip to the capital, directing the officers of state (which would have included Huo Guang in his capacities of regent and commander-in-chief) 'to seek nominations from the jurisdictions

selected for the office of Gentleman [lang] ." Thereupon, Sheng and Han thus returned

to grow old in their native districts.82

�'f-__----T..-�........� ....,r..-= . =....C+to�=I;= ��=====:o=.--:c;c=: ; ==c:=�::--.:1C:-::--­

under the categories ofWorthy and Excellent (xian liang) and Cultivated and Learned (wen xue); see Han shu 7.223. "See Han shu 72.3083: "On his journey home, he shall stay at the [government) relay lodges, and the local hostels will provide with wine and meat, and feed his entourage and horses. The senior subaltern shall seasonally pay him visits, and sball present him one head of sheep and two hu of wine (approximately 40 liters) yearly in the eighth month." In this ver­ sion, "eighth month" is likely to be a mistake for the "first month" of the original edict; see Wang XianqiaiJ., Han shu buzhu 72.18a.


"Han shu 72.3083.


The Individualization of Reclusion

The Individualization of Reclusion outright rejection of such a career in favor of a life disengaged from "official­ dom." We have no information about Han Fu's career, if he had had one, but Bing Han and especially Gong Sheng led prominent official careers up to the time oftheir retirement. Gong Sheng and his kinsman Gong She (62 B.C.E.-6 C.E.) are evoked repeat­ edly in discussions of character. The two usually are portrayed as a pair, as in Yang Xiong's pronouncement on them: "The purity of the two Gongs from Chu�how immaculate it is!"" They were portrayed as humble savants who, especially during the latter part of their careers (and in particular Gong Sheng) accepted appointments with great reluctance and even then only until such time as they were able to retire for reasons of, or perhaps on the pretext of, ill­

ness."' Ban Gu wrote that they, as well as Wang Ji (d. 48 B.C.E. at an advanced age) and GongYu (ca. 126-44 B.C.E.), were said to have "advanced and retreated according to courtesy and comity," and that " [Gong] Sheng truly fit the words

'holding firm to death, seeking to perfect the Way.' "85 Gong Sheng retired at the advent of Wang Mang's rule, and he is portrayed

as representative of superior character befitting the Moral Hero, someone who will make his appearance when the Way prevails and retire when the Way is

absent. His own path, however, merged with the resolute stance of a Paragon of Extraordinary Conduct, leading him to the ultimate in staunch defiance, for he

chose death as his recourse to avoiding reentry into service. Gong officially re­ tired in 2 C.E., with. Wang Mang holding the reins of government. Gong was then already sixty-nine years old (seventy sui) and still accorded great respect by one and all. When Wang Mang "usurped the throne" (on January 10, 9 C.E.), attention was paid to fulfill the conditions set forth in the edict granting retire­

ment, and Gong Sheng received the official visit and bestowal. On the new year (five days later), he was nominated to an honorary position as chancellor of academicians in the new government, but he did not comply to the summons to audience, ostensibly on account of illness. Two years later (11 C.E.),"



"Fa ran 9.16a; also quoted in Han shu 72.3057. "See their biographies in Han shu 72.3080-85; see also Wang Zhichang. "Chu liang Gong lun,D in Qingxue zhaiji 16.9b-11a. "Han shu 72.3097, referringto Lun yu 8/13. The literal significance of Ban Gu's statement will be seen presently.

"The dating of events needs clarification: we are told that Gong Sheng was paid a visit when Wang Mang took the throne; on the New Year (ming nian) Gong is offered a position that he refuses; two years later (hou er nian) the events to be related occur. Wang Mang took the throne on 10 January 9 C.E. He proclaimed a new calendrical date for the New Year, cor­ responding to 15 January, just five days later: his first official reign would begin on that day. Therefore, the "new year" here actually indicates the beginning of the first year of Wang

Mang's reign, and not the year following. "Two years later" thus indicates the third year of

[Wang] Mang again dispatched emissaries to present a document bearing the imperial seal, and the seal and seal-cord of the office of academic chancellor for the preceptors and companions of the heir-designate, and he sent a comfortable quadriga [outfitted with rush-padded wheels] to receive Sheng. They went forward to accord respect and to confer the rank of superior chancellor, presenting in advance the amount of six months' emolument to facilitate his transfer [to the capital]. The emissaries along with the grand administrator of the commandery, the senior subaltern of th� prefecture, the district elders, the sundry officials and those known for their conduct and fealty, as well as their students, in all amounting to a thousand men and more, entered Sheng's hamlet to present the edict. The emissaries wished to induce Sheng to come forward and greet them, and so stood long outside the gate. Sheng claimed aggravated illness and prepared a bed in his quarters, below the southern window in the room west of the entry. He lay his head to the east, neatly spread his court attire and drew up his sash." The emissaries passed through the entry, filed west and stood facing south. They presented the edict to which was attached the document with the imperial seal, removed to the courtyard, twice did obeisance and offered up the seal and seal-cord [of office]. They brought in the comfortable quadriga and went forward to address Sheng, saying, "The sage court has never been neglectful of you, lord; when the codes and regulations were not yet established [at the advent of the new dynasty], we waited for you to formulate the government, hoping to hear that what we had wished for could come to be realized, and thus bring peace to all between the seas." Sheng responded, "I have always been unclever, and adding to that being ad­ vanced in years and afflicted with illness, able to expire at any moment, were I to fol­ low your lordships the emissaries and take to the road, I would be certain to die dur­ ing the journey. This would be without benefit, to the greatest degree." The emissaries sought to persuade him of the importance, going so far as advancing to place the seal and seal-cord upon Sheng's body. But Sheng pushed the articles aside and would not accept them. The emissaries then memorialized, "We are just in full summer's torrid heat, and Sheng ails from asthenia [shoo qiJ; possibly he could [be allowed to] wait for autumn's coolness before setting out." This was approved by imperial edict. Once each five days, one of the emissaries went together with the grand administrator to inquire as to his · ---.:laiIV>1re.11:are�'ftrey_SlIm-to--shellgLnw osonsarut1lls disCIple Gao HUI and others, "Ihe court humbly wishes to accord your lordship ceremonial entitlement. Though he be' afflicted with illness, it would be better to set out and move to the [official] relay lodge, to demonstrate his intention to go. This would assure for his sons and grand­ sons a legacy of great endeavors." Hui and the others related the words of the emis­ saries. Sheng realized that he would never be listened to, and addressed Hui and the othWang's rule (11 C.E.); this date is corroborated in the memoir concerning Wang Mang (Han

shu 99B.4127).

''This description alludes to the way in which an ill Confucius still insisted on correct posture and dress; it js taken from Lun ru 10113.


The Individualization of Reclusion

The Individualization of Reclusion

ers: "I was the recipient of great favor from the House of Han, but there was nothing with which I could repay it. Now I am old in years, and imminently will be put into the earth. In my opinion, how could I with my single life serve two ruling houses, and

then face my former rulers below?" Sheng then gave instructions on the matter of mourning, and on restraint in terms of the coffin: "The shroud surrounds the body; the coffin surrounds the shroud. You are not to follow vulgar custom and stir up my grave, nor plant cypresses, nor erect a memorial hall." When he had finished speaking, he did not again open his mouth to drink or eat. When fourteen days had passed he died; he was seventy-eight years old [seventy-nine sui] at death. The emissaries and the grand administrator oversaw the restraint [in funeral matters] , and presented the double burial coverlet and sacrificial memorial services according to the law. Disciples, hemp-clad mourners, and funeral participants were ' counted by the hundreds. An elderly fellow carne to mourn, whose wailing was extremely grave. Presently he said, "Alas, incense burns itself up on account of its fra -

grance; oil depletes itself on account of its brightness. Master Gong in the end cut off prematurely his appointed years-he was no cohort of mine." He then left in a hurry; nobody knew his identity." Sheng's residence was at Lian Hamlet [Lian Ii, Hamlet of the Incorrupt] in Pengcheng [modern Xuzhou, Jiangsu], and those of later ages engraved stone tablets to mark the gates of his hamlet."

ine story of the passing ofGong Sheng has been quoted in its entirety to indicate the extent to which the man was honored, both by his contemporaries and by posterity, but more significantly for its importance in the formulation of attitudes toward reclusion and withdrawal generally held by the literati, especially those with offiCial capacities. Gong Sheng was honored by a large following ofstudents and local admirers, to the point that his residence became a local landmark. Of equal importance, however, he was honored by Wang Mang and

Wang's associates. Gong Sheng was an influential former imperial official; his acquiescence to the summons of the new dynasty would give important sanction to the legitimacy of Wang Mang's rule. So eager was the new dynastic ruler for even the G,,,on�g,..t� o waI·t'----r-," le £"o"� rrm' ssl·b l.'!O slightest public overture of cooperation that it was p�e� �� that � � �� he all matter, for the convenience of more comfortable weather, and, for publicly thus needed to do was move temporarily to a government hostel and demonstrate the semblance of intention to comply at an unspecified future date. It should be noted that Wang Mang may have enticed and greatly pressured Gong to go through with the formalities of a capital appearance and a certain second formal retirement, but he never coerced him."


_ _

"On this elderly mourner, see below. "Han shu 71.3084-85. Cf. my "Passing of Kung Sheng" in Victor H. Mair, ed. The Co­

lumbia Anthology ofTraditional Chinese Literature, pp. 518-21. "Huangfu Mi's account (Gaoshi zhuan B.ub) nevertheless relates that Gong Sheng

Gong Sheng chose self-inflicted death over service to a new dynasty, and thus belongs to a small group of persons whose acts served as guideposts for a particular strain of strict adherence to ethical principles that would be belabored in subsequent ages by loyalists to other fallen dynasties. Gong Sheng's extraordinary act was presaged by a similar act on the part of Yu Jun (d. ca. 6 C.E.) . During the reign of Emperor Ai (reg. 7-1 B.C.E.) he held the position of rectifier, senior subordinate to the counselor-in-chief, but when appointed minister of education under Wang Mang's regency, "Jun looked up to heaven and sighed, 'It is my wish to become a Han ghost; I am unable to serve two different patronymics (Le., two dynastic houses).' He drank poison and died. When Guangwu ascended the throne (in 25 C.E.), he decorated Jun's grave.",t Gong Sheng and Yu Jun did not see any easy way out of service to a new dynasty, and their stance, especially that of Gong Sheng, has been upheld through the centuries as a model for righteous action under particular circumstances. Their conduct has a precedent in the action of Wang Zhu of Qi, mentioned above, who hanged himself rather than serve another ruler. In Wang Zhu's words, "A loyal servant does not serve two lords; a chaste [widowed] maiden does not change for a second husband."" Refusing service to a new ruler was common throughout the Six Dynasties, and it later was considered by some obligatory." Yet while acts such as those of Gong Sheng and Yu Tun were unique--extraordinary-they also reflect the sentiments of Ii historiography wherein praise and blame are accorded retroactively in compliance with the dominant values of the historian and his time. Ban Gu's approbatory portrayal of Gong Sheng's righteous defiance and selfsacrifice, written only fifty years after Wang Mang's "usurpation" and his subsequent overthrow (resulting in the reinstitution of "legitimate" rule), evinces the general commendation of acts against "usurpers" and the specific disparagement of Wang Mang that was common throughout all periods of Imperial China, and especially during the Later Han. Yet it does not accurately reflect the


_ _ _

starved himselfto death because he was being forced by Wang Mang to accept office. Exam- , pIes will be shown later of the use of force to implement a positive response to a summons. "This notice about Yu Jun, all that is known about him, originally comes from the Hou Han shu ofXie Cheng (fl. early third century). See Zhang Shu (jinshi 1799), "Shu Quan Xieshan 'Xi Han jieyi zhuan tid' hou," 11.6a. This notice, however, is absent from compilations of the remnants of Xie's work (cf., for example, Zhou Tianyou, comp., Bajia Hou Han shu jizhu). It may be found without attribution in some dictionaries, and in Liao Yongxian (fl. 1617-66) et al., eds., Shangyou lu 1.17b. "See Shiji 82.2457; and Chapt�r 1 above. "Frederick W. Mote ("Confudan EremitiSm in the Yuan Period," pp. 279-90) gives several Song and Yuan examples ofwhat he tenns "compulsory eremitism." However, as noted else­ where in the present study, this type ofconduct obviouslywas not "compulsory" for everyone.


The Individualization of Reclusion

attitude of Wang Mang toward those who withdrew from service to him. In

The Individualization of Reclusion

(late first century B.c.E.-early first century C.E.) . Acclaimed for his erudition and

fact, although Wang Mang was not always as solicitous, nor as persistent, as he

conduct, Xue nevertheless was allowed by Wang Mang to avoid service in the

was with Gong Sheng, the evidence indicates that he accepted the resignation of

central government and was permitted to remain at home to live as he pleased:

a significant number of civil officials without reprisal. Rao Zongyi has compiled

Xue Fang once was employed

the notices of 131 persons who denied Wang Mangtheir cooperation, and an ex­


lib tioner to the commandery clerk, and once had

been summoned for appointment [to the central bureaucracy] without going. When

amination of these accounts and others shows that, with few exceptions, only

Wang Mang sent a comfortable carriage to receive Fang, Fang declined and gave this

those who opposed Wang by force were dealt with by force, and that civil ser­

excuse to the emissary: "When Yao and Shun were up on the throne, still there were

vants who did not oppose Wang with force were not met with coercion."

Representative of this is the case ofPeng Xuan (d. ca. 1 C.E.), a titled high of­

ficial who once had even recommended Wang Mang for the position of com­ mander-in-chief.95 When he resigned against the wishes of Wang Mang, Peng was neither detained nor persecuted, although neitherwas he honored: Peng Xuan memorialized: "In bearing up the ruler, the Three Excellencies are as a tri­ pod. If one of the legs cannot sustain weight, then it will topple and upset the fine

to be found beneath them Nest-dweller and [Xu) You. Now that you, enlightened ruler, would exude virtue like that of Tang and Yu [Le., Yao and Shun ) , I, your hum­ ble servant, would wish to hold to my principles in the manner of [Xu You of] Mt. Ii." The emissary dutifully reported, and Mang, pleased by the reply, did not force [Fang) to come. Fang lived at home, and gave instruction in the classics"·

Thus, in a real sense it actually is Xue Fang rather than Gong Sheng who is heir to the Han Fu precedent of imperially sanctioned withdrawal. Xue Fang and Gong Sheng reacted quite differently to imperial summons,

am shallow and weak in natural ability and temperament, advanced in years. I am recurrently befallen by ailments, and become

and their responses typify apposite responses both for men who would seek dis­

grand minister ofworks and lord of Changping, and plead for my poor physical state

whose primary bent was the implementation of ethical prerogatives on a par­

contents. I, your servant, and am well

confused and forgetful. I wish to offer up the seals and seal-cords of my positions


to return to my native home and await being laid down into the grave."

The request was forwarded by Wang Mang to the empress dowager, who approved Peng Xuan's retirement just as she had those of Gong Sheng and Bing Han. However, "Mang frowned upon Xuan's request for retirement, and thus did not provide [the usual honors of] gold and comfortable quadriga."96 Peng Xuan ostensibly resigned because of old age, and in fact he died just a few years after retiring. As noted in Ban Gu's "Appraisal" ("Zan") to Peng's account, however, "When Peng Xuan perceived danger, he stopped."97 In total contrast to the fate ofGong Sheng and Yu Jun is the story ofXue Fang

engagement as a way of life-as was the case with Xue Fang-and for men ticular occasion-as was the case with Gong Sheng. The two paradigms often were evoked in later writings as typifying responses appropriate to one's voli. tion-Gong Sheng for his staunch loyalty and extraordinary conduct, Xue Fang for his committed disengagement and daring guile. Xue Fang and especially Gong Sheng were portrayed as polar archetypes in the formulation of norma­ tive conduct for individuals within the scholar-official ethos. As paradigms, they could be evoked as precedents, but they could serVe equally well as counterpoints in one's polemic. One example comes from a memorial sent in 347 by Huan Wen (312-73) recommending the elderly and

respected practitioner of reclusion Qiao Xiu (d. ca.. 360, at over ninety years of

age). In praising the nature of Qiao Xiu's integrity, Huan Wen writes: "Going "See "Xi Han jieyi zhuan," pp. 157-208. This is based on and supplements the "Xi Han dl--1(cl, ,-lI aLC e--to-oftke) he 'would a'foid misfortune like that of Gong e� Dg i.e ll'n di :� rwaiUr"Q ce c:o £ol"Wi jieyi zhuan" ofLi Yesi (16u-8o), himselfa Millg loyalist '.mo declined seI"ViEe-te-a-tl_4v------'l-------l nasty, with some additions to that work by Quan Zuwang (1705-55). Rao divides the notices into four categories: "loyal and forthright shi who were dissatisfied with Wang Mang's grasping of power" (five names); "those punished or executed by Wang Mang" (twenty names); "those who raised forces against Wang Mang and died for their convictions" (twenty-six names); and "those pure and principled scholars who did not serve Wang Mang" (two divisions, eighty names). See also Vervoorn's discussion of the last of these categories

(Men ofthe Cliffs and Caves, pp. 131-38). To these lists may be added at least another seven­ 582, for the addi­

teen names; see my "Reclusion and 'The Chinese Eremitic Tradition,' '' p. tional names and for minor corrections to Vervoorn's lists. "See Han shu 99A.4044.

"'Han shu ]1.3052. "Han shu ]1.3053.

Sheng's losing his life; withdrawing he would manage without the taunt ofXue

Fang's crafty reply."99

"Han shu 72.3095-97. Ban Gu goes on to say, "When the Ancestor to the Age (Guangwu) ascended the throne he summoned Fang, who died on the road from illness." This is contra­ dicted in the Gaoshi zhuan ofJi Kang (p. 417), where Xue is said to have died at home. C£ also Hou Han shu 83.2757: "Ones like Xue Fang and Pang Meng were granted appointments, but did not deign to appear." On Pang Meng, see Hou Han shu 83.2759-60; and Liu Zhen (fl. ca. �1) et al., comps., Dongguan Han ji 16.11b-12a; see also Wu Shuping, ed. Dongguan Han ji

Jlaozhu 18.821-22. "Sanguo zhi 42.1034 n. 3, quoting the !in yangqiu. Due to his age and the distance from

The Individualization of Reclusion


The Individualization of Reclusion


had been summoned along with the Four Hoaryheads at the beginning of the

The utility ofthe Xue Fang paradigm will be seen presently. The example of

Han, but he chose instead not to go forward. A contemporary saying held that

Gong Sheng served as a paradigm in the formulation of political and ethical

"the Four Hoaryheads of Shang Mountain cannot compare with the single old­

notions about occasional withdrawal, but it also served as an obvious and tell­

ster from Huaiyang." JOJ

ing example of what substantive reclusion was not. That is seen in the anecdote

Through the above examples we begin to see the distinction between sub­

concerning the elderly mourner at Gong Sheng's funeral.

stantive reclusion-actualized disengagement-and broader, more pervasive

The interlude concerning the Old Man from Pengcheng (Pengcheng laofu),

political and intellectual notions about withdrawal in the scholar-official cul­

as the wise elderly mourner came to be known, may be the one part of Gong Sheng's account that does not reflect a solid historical foundation. Huangfu Mi

ture. In tracing the development of substantive reclusion, it is instructive to

elaborating on the earlier Han shu account. He writes: "He was a Hidden Man

categorically disdained service to the state, as well as an example of conduct by

look at historical accounts of several other men from the Former Han who

tries to add historical veracity to his recounting of the life of the Old Man,


the scholar-official that counterpoints actual disengagement. These include

of Chu. Seeing the decline of the House of Han, he hid himself away

cultivating the Way, ' not working toward reputation or gain. At over ninety

Song Shengzhi, Xun Yue and Xun Xiang, Zheng Pu, Zhuang Zun, and Li Hong.

funeral follows).loo

then went to the capital to study the Yijingo When offered an official post, he said

Song Shengzhi gained a reputation for filiality and generosity when young,

years of age, during the time of Wang Mang . . . " (the account of Gong Sheng's

that what pleased others was not what he sought. He went off to tend sheep as a

Despite Huangfu Mi's touch, the Old Man from Pengcheng has left behind no traces, ifindeed he ever existed. Yet in terms of viewing attitudes toward substan­ tive reclusion during the Han, the Old Man is more revealing than Gong. Gong

follower of a man named Xun Vue, finding contentment in the zither and in cal­ ligraphy. Chancellor Kong Guang went to offer Song employ, but Song refused and died in 3 C.E.I02 Song's account does not appear in the Han shu, although that

Sheng has been portrayed with ethical values of the Moral Hero and conduct of the Paragon of Extraordinary Conduct; however his retirement must be seen in

of his friend and mentor does. Xun Vue's account, along with that of his brother

Xun Xiang, is found in the section of the Han shu that commonly is seen as the

terms ofservice and career, and not in terms of reclusion. That he retired at a par­ ticular juncture and for particular reasons has targeted him for the praise of countless officials who followed in his steps, or at least aspired to maintain a simi­

lar unflinchingly righteous mien. Gong Sheng retired and sought to rem�n withdrawn, but he was not by any means one who chose disengagement as his way of life; we remember that Gong retired at an advanced age after having served in a

precursor to sections on reclusion in the dyn,astic histories, the section in which

Ban Gu expresses a good deal of his vision of reclusion, grouping together the likes

l r

of Gong Sheng, Xue Fang, Zheng Pu, and Zhuang Zun.lo,



I"Se� Huang Bao�en ( 846), Z ibu Shilei tongbian 56.58b, quoting a Han shu (not p�esent lfi e�an� verslOns O e Han s u)· !.he story also is quoted in the Guangyun, but t ' HuzhuJUlOZ heng Song ben Goong yun, p. 199 (ying), AcWIthout attnbutlOn; see yu Na1yong, !' cording to this source, the eighth generation descendent ofYing Yao was Ying Shao, author of the Fengsu tongyi and a commentary to the Han shu (tbis last work may be the ultinlate values inherent in motifs evoked in the previous chapter, especially those of Mr. source ofthe story). The origin of this version of the story probably is Sun·Mian of the Tang, " demonSheng Gong than Inconspicuous. Real or imaginary, the Old Man rather compiler of the Tang yun: a version of the story as related by Sun (but without mention of � ." lS"q...u"' te...t Don " . 'g";' (1r. �a;n�-)� .,il! tween unconditional reclusion and occasional (in the sense of relating to a par""Huangfu Mi, Gaoshizhoon B.lOb. Probably due to his association with the zither, Song moral a to ticular occasion) withdrawal as an exigent and temporary resolution . . Shengzhi has been given an account in the Qin shi ofZhu Changwen (1039-98), where he is pnncIelr s: ea , or ethical dilemma. A parallel case concerns the Four Hoaryh d th · said to have been a friend of Gong Sheng. Song's account in this work (Qin shi 3.8h-9a) is " different from that in the Gaoshi zhoon, and includes specific information about the cirpled withdrawal from service, and subsequent reemergence, is in contrast to the " . cumstances ofthe various attempts to offer him official positions, as well as the names of the conduct of a certain Ying Yao from the Huaiyang Mountains. Ying supposedly officials hoping to gain his employ. The account is derived from an unnamed source that either represents a separate textual tradition of Song Shengzhi's biography or was itself the r' an to trip ceremonial the emperor the by spared was Xiu Qiao , � capit the to Shu his home in parent source, now lost, from which Zhu Changwen and Huangfu Mi each selected material tl; imperial audience; Qiao's biography is in the lin shu section on reclusion (94.2444). according to his own discretion, ""Gaoshizhoon B.ub. "'See the discussion of this chapter, below. number ofhigh offices in the �ntral administration. The Old Man exposes Gong and acts as an exponent of actualized reclusion; he is representative of some of the



.� I l




The Individualization of Reclusion

The Individualization of Rec1usion


Xun Yue and his brother Xun Xiang, as also Xue Fang, were mentioned to­ gether as "untainted men of renown from the time of Emperor Cheng to Wang Mang . . . whose fame was celebrated throughout the age on account of their

Daoist pantheon, assuming jurisdiction over the fifth of the thirty-six Minor

Grotto Heavens

Zhuang Zun, better known as Yan Junping,ll2 was a learned and humble market.l l3 When he had earned enough to get by, he would close up shop and

Gu ness. Yue dispersed his inheritance among his clan and his locality, and Ban OS I was Xiang 10fty." notes that "his personal ideals and integrity were especially on the appointed during Wang Mang's regency as one ofthe Four Companions presented was he illness, staff ofthe heir designate. At the time ofhis death from "My late with a set of funeral shrouds that his son vehemently rejected, saying, of preoffice the to e perquisit as father left these .instructions: 'Nothing sent I death) my upon (i.e., time this At ceptor and companion shall be accepted. this for and n, companio of office 's must excuse myself from the heir designate when afreason do not accept.' "106 Xun Xiang, then, withdrew from office only


Zhuang Zun was later said to have become an immortal: "His entire family as­ away following him." 1lS During the Shaoxing period of the Song (1131-62) he was invested with the Daoist title Sublime and Penetrating Perfected One (Miaotong zhenren) . 110 Zhuang Zun, then, commonly is portrayed as a Taoist who exemplified Taoist reclusion; he was incorporated retroactively into the Daoist religion, just as had been Zheng Pu. Yet Zhuang Zun also ascribed to typically Confucian



moral values. He sought in his lowly profession to benefit the multitudes, keeping to the credo "When there is a query about something perverse and un­


just, then I address its advantages and harm according to divination with milfoil and tortoise. What I say to sons concerns filiality, to brothers I speak of defer­


ence, and to servitors loyalty. Each according to his particular circumstances, I



instead Zheng Pu (byname Zizhen) refused an official appointment and his "but , Shaanxi) g, Xianyan modem of st farmed the hills of Gukou' (northea

love and fame rocked the capital district.JJlO8 He taught that "loyalty and filiality, ural supernat that Seeing conduct. exalted respect: these are the world's most g pm e k ' · ·e s (i tation ife m climatic normal � ' phenomena accord Wl·th the five � � th n e r e l r S d o 0 f di SIgnS mg n d correspo no appear ere good government so that th Pu Zheng Kings.JJloo and s Emperor of Way natural world): this is the crux of the le>---pc\i of'l efl p.e f'-lj the v-th hy l-'b d te>( ctf P1I""e't" ,e ecinP ";in -.: n h sl 'rlilI"ld was honored after his deathby a mon-ument:'-" the into ated incorpor was later he ofthe area of his home, north ofthe capital;1l0

l .·.�· �.

! J



•. . .'

direct them toward goodness, and more than'halfhave followed mywords."117 Zhuang Zun's scholarship likewise was not concerned only with



there in his time. A deteriorated stele dated 175 C.E. commemorating Zheng Zizhen's estate is transcribed in Li shi 15·9b-lOb; inexplicably, the stele is said to have been located in Shu, near modem Chengdu. . '"See the Tiandi gongfu tu, compiled by Sima Ziwei (Sima Chengzhen 647-735) in Yunji . qtqUln 27·403. "'The surname Zhuang was changed to Yan by Ban Gu and later writers to avoid the tao'nc!!J rs!li Min e'!] ,1l' no!I:rj:\ ,illl:e:j,01!.f. !!'e"-lp g (.re.g..5B.=Zs1-Li:u.Zh:uang.Jp am th p'!;.er '!l·� m!!' o'!!n� ,!;-514 B.C.E.), was enfeoffed in YanIing (modern Wujin xian, Jiangsu). He declined to accept the rule ofWu on several occasions, and later left Wu never to return again. See Zuo zhuan, Xiang 1412 (p. 1007); Shiji 31.1449-65; Ii Kang's Gaoshi zhuan, p. 407. Lu Zhonglian (ca. 305-ca. 245 B.C.E.) once said he would tread out on the Eastern Sea to his death rather than dwell in a place under the rule of Qin. Later he refused entitlement under General Tian Dan of Qi, withdrawing into seclusion by the sea; see Shi ji 83.2461, 2469. See also Frank A. Kierman, Jr., "Lu Chung-lien and the Lu Lien Tzu," pp. 269-74· "


rejected and unsuccessful, and resolve is needed to leave one's home for parts unknown. But for Liang Hong it is all an adopted persona: Liang Hong never himselfserved. Unless our knowledge of Liang Hong's life is totally skewed, he never sought out, nor was he sought out for, public office, with the possible exception of Emperor Zhang's reaction to Hong's "Song with Five Ai!s." Thus Liang Hong

is a unique example of someone who endeavored to remain disengaged in rela­ tion to the state yet who nevertheless adopts the persona of the Worthy whose will to service has been frustrated. Commonly the persona of the Ill-Fated Wretch is adopted by the man who truly has found his utility to the state denied

and consequently bemoans his fate; thus, Liang Hong as exception, generally it

"Vervoorn (Men ofthe Cliffs and Caves, p. 200, esp. nn. 162, 167) believes that "spring" here is important in dating the event; however, this is more likely purely a literary allusion, with no implication of a specific temporal reference. One is told by a common allusion that . the poet feels that the state is lost: Jizi (the viscount of Ji) composed the "Song of Sprouting Wheat Ears" ("Mai xiu ge") upon seeing grains flourishing amongst the ruins ofthe Yin pal­ ace; see Shiji 38.1620-21; and Zhu Ziqing, "Gu yi geyao jishuo," pp. 30-32. "Or: "for whom do I tarry?" See Hou Han shu 83.2767. The commas within each line of the translation reflect the consistent major caesura, indicated in the poem by the character xi. Cf. Vervoorn's translation ofthe poem in Men ofthe Cliffs and Caves, PP. 199-2oo.

Substantive Reclusion in the Later Han


is the case that persons who do not practice reclusion as a way of life adopt the persona of one who does, and not the reverse. Liang Hong did not need to possess an official position for his virtue to be manifest. In Wu, the wealthy landowner for whom he worked hulling grain es­ pied the respect with which Meng Guang treated her husband, which was de­ scribed as follows: "She did not venture to lift her gaze in the presence of Hong, and raised his food tray to the level of her eyebrows [while kneeling in re­ spectj ."28 Alerted that Hong was no ordinary man, from then on Hong's e ­ � ployer lodged Hong within his own mansion; Liang Hong spent the rest of hIS days writing:' Liang Hong's renown did not end with his death, and his legacy has lasted to the present. He was buried in a place of honor next to the grave of the local hero Yaoli, just south of the temple to Taibo, the legendary founder ofWu!O He was paid homage by sacrifices at his grave, as he was in December of the year 400 by Zhou Zhi. with the traditional offering of hornwort." And at least since the Tang, the name Liang Waterway (Liang xi) in what now is Wuxi has been said to be commemorative of Liang Hong's residence.32 Liang Hong did not seek renown, but his virtue inevitably was perceived by those with whom he came into contact, and he has been lauded through the cen­ turies for his exemplary ways.33 He never took office, preferring instead a humble




Substantive Reclusion in the Later Han

life of farming or milling. His eloquent expression of his contradiction of whether to serve the state and lower his ideals, or whether to remove himself from such corruptive influences, shows that he was an adherent to typically Confucian val­ ues. Still, as was the case for a good number of Han practitioners of reclusion, he was incorporated into the hierarchy ofsaints in Daoism's Shangqing sect.34 The story of Liang Hong and Meng Guang passed quickly into cultural id­ iom. Less than a hundred years after their deaths they were evoked as an unam­ biguous allusion to the resolute selection of simplicity as a mode of life. An ex­ ample of this is a statement attributed to the daughter of Grand Tutor Yuan Wei (d.

190), who was given in marriage to the model of lofty conduct Zhang

Feng. She had been sent to Zhang along with a splendid silk-clad train of a hun­ dred slaves but was paid no attention for her first several years of marriage. Re­ alizing the root of the problem, she implored her husband, "If milord should wish to hold to the lofty principles of a Liang Hong, then this humble person

would wish to harbor the proven will of a Meng Guang.""

The mirror version ofthis story is told about the wife of Yuan Wei. She was the daughter of the prestigious and affluent Ma Rong

(79-166), but she brought

to her marriage only a winnowing basket and a broom. When asked about it by her husband, she replied, "My beloved parents showered me with affection, and I dared not defy my upbringing. Should milord desire to emulate the loftiness ofBao Xuan or Liang Hong, then this humble person would seek to imitate the

"Hou Han shu 83.2768; see also Gaoshizhuan C.3a and below. . acts of Shaojun and Meng Guang." Shaojun, nee Huan, like the daughter of "Ibid.. The bibliographic section of the Sui shu notes that there had been recorded dunng Yuan Wei, brought to her marriage with Bao Xuan more gifts than her husband a: w t l�ng� o works Hong's Liang of collection ! the Liang Dynasty (502-57) a two-juan � cared for; she later had them all returned.3' extant; see Wei Zheng (580-643), Linghu Defen (583-661), et al., comps., SUf shu, JmID1 zhi . 35.1057. However. the bibliographical sections ofboth the Iiu Tang shu and the Xm �ang shu Meng Guang's deferential treatment of her husband became immortalized record the work; see Liu Xu (887-946), comp., Iiu Tang shu 47-2054; and Ouyang Xiu et al., in the imagistic portrayal of respect accorded to a worthy spouse. "Raising the camps., Xin Tang shu 60.1577. Nothing re�ains to�y of Lian� Hong's besides the tray level with the eyebrows" (ju an qi mei) became a common literary allusion eulogy mentioned above and three poems mcluded m Hong's b10graphy m the Hou Han s�u. and has remained as a set idiomatic expression (chengyu) of the language into "See Lu Guangwei (fl. late ninth century), comp., Wu di ji, p. 87; Fan Chengda, Wu]Un zhi 39.550-51; and Zhu Changwen (1039-98), Wu jun tujing xuji C.46. The grave is on Liang modem times. In addition, it was the subject of a Yuan dynasty lyrical drama by m,..,o.... ,,-UXl ern d",! ..,..·'shan �'L!n!\J f:" o'!' � rth t-" .l!e M o un �e",lID!tl!! i l!1!" . � am ---;; �--;c;''!!1J )a an !l" � l suM \'lQ1 shan Wlcl (Li Ll'lilI . --�-:L----jI:-·-�W �as �t�o,1! --; tl h la1 at lln ma nm ne; e,� 31, an URt d alsnira:si1eenLh:e subject of a number of pamtmgs-the most "See Zhou's "Sacrifice to Liang Hong" ("Ji Liang Hong wen"), Quan 1m wen 142.2b. "Hornwort from the channeled pools" (wen zao xing lao) was used in sacrifices at least since "See Ishii Masako DOkyogaku no kenkyu, p. 25