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Huan Tan
- Qin Shi #73
桓譚 1
琴史 #73 2

Huan Tan (ca. 43 BCE - 28 CE), style name Junshan, was from a family of musicians originating in Xiang (part of Pei district in the modern Anhui/Jiangsu border area). Perhaps through his father, Huan Tan became a 郎 Gentleman, then was a senior official during the inter-regnum of Wang Mang. For a long time he was widely respected as a critic. His writings survive only in fragments.

Huan Tan's Xin Lun,3 said originally to have been in 29 folios, is also said to be a work reconstructed from later quotes. Quotes concerning the qin can be found in:

Qinshu Daquan, Folio 16, #19 (qin description; compare with Qinyuan Yaolu below)
Qinshu Daquan, Ibid., #35 (concerns Yongmen Zhou)
Yuefu Shiji (short descriptive sentence)
Qinyuan Yaolu (qin description; compare with Qinshu Daquan above; mentions qin's round top and flat bottom4)

Qinshu Cunmu #10, Huan Tan's 琴操 Qin Cao, gives some biographical information on himself, then says he was unable to complete his Xin Lun, which includes a chapter called 琴道 Qin Dao (Xucheng Qin Dao?). And so Han emperor Suzong (r.76-89) ordered Ban Gu (32 - 92 CE) to complete it.

The entry in Qinshu Cunmu goes on to include a number of quotes from a variety of sources. This includes a comment that suggests that this Qin Cao was actually not written by Huan Tan. However, it does not seem to give enough information about the contents of this Qin Cao to determine whether passages in Qin Shi that give "Qin Cao" as a reference (generally these references do not seem to be in Cai Yong's Qin Cao) might be referring to the work described here.

Qinshu Cunmu #11, Huan Tan's 續成琴道,一篇 Xucheng Qin Dao, has a brief discussion suggesting this work may have been a continuation to #10, Qin Cao. Elsewhere a 琴道篇 Qin Dao Pian attributed to Huan Tan is said to mention at least seven qin pieces:

  1. 堯暢 堯暢 Yao Chang
  2. 舜操 Shun Cao
  3. 禹操 Yu Cao
  4. 文主操 Wen Wang Cao
  5. 微子操 Weizi Cao
  6. 箕子操 Jizi Cao
  7. 伯夷操 Bo Yi Cao

The original essay in Qin Shi begins as follows.

Huan Tan had the style name Junshan. During the reign (32 - 8 BCE) of Han emperor Chengdi his father had been 太樂 Tai Yue....

Not yet completed.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Huan Tan 桓譚 (Wikipedia)
15061.72 東漢相人字君山好音樂..., a man of 相 Xiang (23733.相縣 in Henan or 相州 ?), style name Junshan, he loved music.... Elsewhere it says he was from 安徽省濉溪縣 Suixi district of Anhui, just across the border from 沛 Pei district (17541.沛縣) in modern Jiangsu province - near 徐州市 Xuzhou city. The entry mentions his 新論 Xin Lun, 29 Folios. Lowe, Biographical Dictionary, discusses this and says he wrote an incomplete essay on the zither. Also discussed in Xu Jian Chapter 2.A. (pp.14/5). (Return)

2. 21 lines (Return)

3. Xin Lun (新論: Tract for the Times; New Treatise)
This book, as described above, did not survive intact. Instead it was reconstructed later from extracts that had been quoted in various sources. It covers philosophy, culture, economy, nature and anomalies. See Timothy Pokora, Hsin-lun (New Treatise) and Other Writings by Huan T'an (43 B.C. - 28 A.D.): An Annotated Translation with Index. Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies #20 (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1975).

4. A footnote to the Qinyuan Yaolu page translates the passage describing the appearance of the qin: rounded on top, flat on bottom. (Return)


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