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Shi Xiangzi
- Qin Shi #32
師襄子 1
琴史 #32 2
Confucius plays for Shi Xiang (compare another version, Bo Ya) 3
Shi Xiangzi (Music Master Xiang), also called Shi Xiang, was a famous qin player of antiquity. Qin illustration 8 in Taiyin Daquanji, which claims to be a depiction of his qin, says he was from 衛 Wei. He is perhaps particularly famous as the qin teacher of Confucius, as illustrated at right.

The Qin Shi entry is as follows:4

Shi Xiangzi, a man of Lu, was the "Xiang the chimes player" in Lun Yu (see 18/9).

5Confucius studied qin from Shi Xiangzi. For 10 days he did not advance. Shi Xiangzi then said, (Now your qin playing is quite fluent), you can go on. Confucius said, I may have learned the 曲 melody but I haven't learned the 數 skill. Later Xiangzi said, You have learned the art, you can go on. But Confucius said, But I haven't learned the 志 aim. Later Xiangzi said, You have learned the aim, you can go on. But Confucius said, I have not learned 其為人 what kind of person created it. Then later he said, It was someone contented with profound thoughts, and also who happily had high hopes and ambitions. Xiangzi said, You got it. (Confucius said) it was someone of very dark appearance, large in size and looking far off at the sea, like the king of four countries. If it isn't Wen Wang, who else could it be? Shi Xiang bowed and said the melody was Wen Wang Cao.

Confucius used the qin as a sage would for learning, his skills were exquisite. As for the teaching of Shi Xiang, his disciples learned the sounds. For the studies of sages, they had to learn the deeper significance.... (Translation incomplete. The gist of this last section is that Shi Xiang's original teaching method was to wait for students to reason out their own mistakes. If someone figures things out for himself he learns them more deeply.)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 師襄子 Shi Xiangzi
9129.189 師襄 quotes the account in 孔子家語,辯樂 of Confucius studying qin from Shi Xiangzi.

2. 12 lines (Return)

3. Illustration: from 孔子聖蹟圖, Sagely Relics of Confucius, 1996
From an illustrated book of the life of Confucius, originally published ca. 1930 but copying old images. The present illustration, untitled, is in the back of the book. It is somewhat different from the main illustration, "學琴師襄 Studying qin with Shi Xiang", included under Si Shun, another title of Wen Wang Cao. The Chinese title of the book is 孔子聖蹟圖,河北美術出版社,1996. After relating the story of Confucius learning Wen Wang Cao, the text has a poem with 8 four-character lines.

4. Original text from Qin Shi
The original Chinese is:




Punctuation mostly from Wang Mengshu. The original was not separated into paragraphs.

5. Account of Kongzi studying qin from Shi Xiangzi
In Qin Shi this next section (paragraph) seems to have largely been quoted from Shi Ji, Book 47, Hereditary House of Confucius. However, its differences make the Shi Ji account preferable, so this is given above. For the original Shi Ji account see,

世紀,孔子世家四十七 Annals of History, Hereditary House of Confucius, Annal 47 (China Text Project, Section 34 of 85):


Translation in RH, pp.13-4.

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