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Three Gentlemen
- Qin Shi #51
The Three Gentlemen are 其思革子 Qisi Gezi, 石文子 Shi Wenzi and 叔愆子 Shu Qianzi
三士 1
琴史 #51 2
革子之式 The style of Gezi3                
Appended are 離須 Li Xu and 楚明光 Chu Mingguang; the connection between the three stories/melodies is not clear.

This Qin Shi entry consists of three separate essays and a closing statement. They all run together in the original text but are here indented to form separate units. Since only Qisi Gezi, Li Xu and Chu Mingguang (one from each essay) are mentioned as qin players there is a temptation to consider them as the Three Gentlemen, but the account here shows this is not the case. As for why these three stories are combined, the entry explains this in a closing statement.

三士 Three Gentlemen

其思革子 Qisi Gezi,4 石文子 Shi Wenzi5and 叔愆子 Shu Qianzi6 were apparently from outside of Chu. We know they are the "three gentlemen" because the piece mentioned in this section is the Melody of the Three Gentlemen's Demise (三士窮之曲 San Shi Qiong zhi Qu).7 This melody was presumably the same as or related to the Three Gentlemen's Demise (三士窮 San Shi Qiong) listed in Qin Cao as Hejian Zage, #18.

Qisi Gezi lived in the same city as Shi Wenzi and Shu Qianzi. The three of them, while on their way to Chu, came to a dangerous place. They met wind and rain and lost their food and clothing. Figuring they could not all survive, and that Qisi Gezi was the best of them, the other two gave him their food and clothing, and so he survived and they died. When he arrived at Chu the king of Chu held a feast. Gezi took out his qin and played 別散之聲 Separation Melody. The prince heard this and asked about it. Gezi explained the reason. The Chu king said, "How unfortunate", then presented Gezi with gold to bury his two friends. As a result there is the melody of the Three Gentlemen's Demise.  
離須 Li Xu 8

Li Xu plays a melody called The Song of Zi'an (子安之曲 Zi'an zhi Qu).9 I have not yet found out what how this title specifically relates to the story here of a song apparently written because a brother had left home.

There was also the family of Li Xu. His older brother went into the army and didn't return for a long time, so Li Xu repeatedly had to take provisions out to him. There was also a younger brother who had to remain at home. He cried and wished to follow his older brothers. Li Xu firmly stopped him, but the youngest brother just as firmly wanted to go. (One day) when Li Xu returned he couldn't find his younger brother. As as result there is the Song of Zi'an.  
楚明光 Chu Mingguang (or Ming Guang of Chu) 10

(Chu) Mingguang, as a minister of King Zhao of Chu, figures in a number of stories from that period. The Song of Pursuing Resentment (追怨之歌 Zhui Yuan zhi Ge),11 played by his son 組 Zu, is not in my catalogues. A melody called Chu Mingguang is listed in both Qin Cao and the You Lan manuscript melody list, but the relationship of that melody and its story to the Song of Pursuing Resentment is not clear. For example, Van Gulik, Lore, p.160, has a woman playing the melody Chu Mingguang to Wang Shen but saying it is not appropriate for a meeting of lovers. So although this melody might at some time have had a connection to one called Zhui Yuan zhi Ge, this is never spelled out. In addition, introductions to Chu Mingguang do not seem to mention his son, as is done here; and at least two lists include them as separate titles.

There is also Zu, the son of Mingguang of Chu. At first Mingguang served King Zhao of Chu. In this capacity he had been given orders to go on a mission to 趙 Zhao. However, a certain 羊申甫 Yang Shenfu made slanderous comments about his intentions. King Zhao was angry and jailed Mingguang, who later retired into obscurity. His son Zu then wrote Zhui Yuan zhi Ge about his father's loyal (忠 zhong) and filial (孝 xiao) nature.

Zhu Changwen then adds these comments about these three stories.

Aiya! Hearing the Song of the Three Gentlemen's Demise brings out the sincerity of friend's righteousness. Listening to the Essay of Zi'an brings out the honesty of the emotions of friendly deference. Observing the Song of Pursuing Resentment brings out the promotion of sincere filial piety. Nevertheless, these matters are not necessarily seen in other writings, and one can doubt that the people of these names have such profound understanding. And so here they are transmitted together, in order to preserve their unique flavor.

The original Qin Shi text is below. 12

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 三士 Three Gentlemen

15 lines

3. Image
The image above comes from a collection of images called 宋人畫歷代琴式圖. The title there is "革子之式 The style of Gezi". The inscription then begins, "革子作。於額兩月勢。有清濁風雨之音。常於淮泗夜靜而_忽有三人來。.... Gezi made it. Around the forehead was the shape of two moons. It had a sound that distinguished clear and turbid, wind and rain. Often on a peaceful evening by the Huai and Si Rivers three gentlemen would suddenly arrive...." There is also an image of Gezi's style of qin amongst these qin styles, but with an abbreviated version of this commentary.

4. 其思革子 Qisi Gezi
1498.32 其思 Qisi: "double surname", citing only the 蔡中郎集 Collection of Cai Zhonglang as saying, 三士窮者,其思革子之所作也 San Shi Qiong was created by Qisi Gezi. Gezi's qin (with him playing it?) is shown at top and discussed in the previous footnote.

5. 石文子 Shi Wenzi


6. 叔愆子 Shu Qianzi


7. Three Gentlemen's Demise (三士窮之曲 San Shi Qiong zhi Qu),
10.xxx. 三士窮 San Shi Qiong is also listed in Qin Cao (i.e., in the same section as Chu Ming Guang) and in Qin Yuan Yao Lü (which also has a Chu Ming Guang).

8. 離須 Li Xu

9. The Song of Zi'an (子安之曲 Zi'an zhi Qu)
7072.114 has Zi'an as 仙人名,即黃子安 the name of immortal Huang Zi'an, then also as a nickname for a number of people. No listing for a 子安之 Zi An Zhi, which elsewhere seems to be the preferred title (a mistake that gets repeated?). Listings include those in 琴歷 Qin Li, 1590a, 1590b and 1590c. The last one seems to be a lament by Yin Boqi about family injustice.

10. (楚)明光 Chu Mingguang (also Mingguang of Chu, Chu Ming Guang, Ming Guang of Chu)
15473.58 琴曲名 qin melody; 楚大夫 Minister in Chu for 楚昭王 King Zhao of Chu (15473.75: Shi Ji #40; reigned from 515 - 489). 15473.58 introduces the melody by quoting 琴操 Qin Cao (see Hejian Zage, #11) as follows: When Chu Mingguang was a minister of Chu, King Zhao of Chu obtained a jade bi disc (compare Qin Shi #45) from a Mr. Guo (? 王咼 氏) and wanted to offer it to [the prince of] Zhao. So he planned to send Mingguang to take it to Zhao, but Yang Shenfu knew that Zhao would disagree with him and so he slandered Mingguang to King Zhao by saying Mingguang would turn his back on Chu and support Zhao and so how could he be entrusted on such a mission? So in anger Mingguang was called back. Thus Mingguang himself wrote the tune called Chu Mingguang.

11. Song of Pursuing Resentment (追怨之歌 Zhui Yuan zhi Ge)
30726.xxx. Played by 組 Zu (27964.xxx), a son of Chu Mingguang.

12. Original text
The original Chinese text is as follows:





There are probably some mistaken characters.


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