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Four Hoaryheads
- Qin Shi #61
四皓 1
琴史 #61 2
Four Hoaryheads with a qin 3  
The Four Hoaryheads are referred to here by their nicknames:

They are also sometimes referred to by such other titles as the 商山四皓 Four Hoaryheads of Mount Shang as well as the Four Hoaryheads of the 商雒 Shang Luo mountains.

The main people mentioned in the account here, in addition to the Four Hoaryheads, are Liu Bang, first emperor of the Han dynasty (Emperor Gaozu); Gaozu's wife 呂后 Empress Lü (Wiki), who upon his death in 195 BCE became the de facto ruler of China as Empress Dowager, continuing as such until her death in 180 BCE; her son 劉盈 Liu Ying; Gaozu's concubine Qi; and 留侯 Marquis Liu, the title Gaozu had conferred on the man who had been his chief strategist, 張良 Zhang Liang (262-189; see under Yi Qiao Jin Lü).

According to the account here, during the Qin dynasty the Four Hoaryheads retired as hermits to the Shang Luo mountains. When peace returned with the establishment of the Han dynasty, the first emperor (Gaozu) tried to attract them into his court but they refused. Originally Gaozu named Empress Lü's son Liu Ying as heir apparent. Then in 196, when Gaozu went off on a military campaign, he made Marquis Liu responsible for the safety of Liu Ying. However, Gaozu then changed his mind and wanted to appoint the son of Concubine Qi heir apparent, replacing Liu Ying. At this point Marquis Liu suggested that Empress Lü ask that the Four Hoaryheads come and persuade Gaozu not to do so. They did so with the result that in 195 Liu Ying succeeded Gaozu as 惠帝 Emperor Hui.

Two melody titles are mentioned or suggested here:

Other references include:

The original Qin Shi article is as follows:

The Four Hoaryheads were Dongyuan Gong, Qili Ji, Xia Huanggong and Luli Xiansheng. These four men, during the Qin dynasty, fled from society to the Shang Luo mountains, where they picked mushrooms for food. As a result there is the Melody of Collecting Mushrooms. When Gaozu summoned them to the capital they would not go. But after this Empress Lü used a plan by Marquis Liu (to have them come to the capital and persuade the first Han emperor keep Liu Yin as his heir apparent)....

(The passage here largely follows the account in 漢書,王貢兩龔鮑傳 Han Shu, Biographies of Wang, Gong, two Gongs and Bao, 2, as follows (()has words from Han Shu not in Qin Shi;[]has words added in Qin Shi):

(Qin Shi continues: 盖四賢者皆遯世。無悶者也....) The four venerable ones then Withdrew from Society, but it was not because they were weary .... (The rest of the entry is a discussion of why the Four Hoaryheads did not come when the emperor asked them to, but then did so later.)

Translation and commentary incomplete.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Four Hoaryheads (四皓 Si Hao)


2. 9 lines

3. Image: Four Hoaryheads of Mount Shang (商山四皓 Shangshan Si Hao)
The image is from what is today 河南鄧縣 Deng County in Henan. This is north of Xiangyang (east of Xiangyang is Zaoyang). Note that the qin lower right is being played backwards, as in the brick images of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. Its significance is also mentioned elsewhere.

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