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Wang Ji
- Qin Shi #113
王績 1
琴史 #113 2

王績 Wang Ji (590 - 644), style name 無功 Wugong, gave himself the name 東皋子 Donggaozi.3 He was the younger brother of Wang Tong, also known as Wen Zhongzi. They were both from 絳州龍門 Longmen in Jingzhou district, northeast of Chang'an.4

According to the ICTCL Wang Ji "eschewed the embellished and oblique style of his time. Instead he opted for simplicity and directness in the fashion of Tao Qian, whom, together with Ruan Ji, he admired greatly."

During the Sui dynasty Wang Ji gained an appointment at the Imperial Library in Chang An, the capital, but he disliked the restraining court atmosphere and was frequently drunk. So with the country in disorder as the Sui collapsed, Wang Ji retired to the countryside of Donggao, near his home. Here he found inspiration from a local recluse named 仲長子光 Zhongchang Ziguang.

Qinshu Daquan includes the following materials related to him

  1. A poem of his about playing the qin; see Folio 20A, #10.
    The full text is: 彈琴
    幽人在何所?紫巖有仙躅。 Where is the secluded man? Beneath the purple cliffs is his mysterious trace.
    月下橫寶琴,此外將安欲。 I lay out my precious zither under the moonlight....
    Full translation in Warner, p.52.

  2. A letter to him from Du Zhisong; see Folio 16, #49.

The original essay in Qin Shi begins as follows:5

Donggaozi, or Wang Ji, style name Wugong, was a younger brother of Wenzhongzi. He abandoned public office and didn't serve, instead farming in the eastern marshes, hence his self-nickname. He had female servitors and a number of men to plant sorghum, then in spring and autumn make wine.... He was an excellent qin player. By 加減 revising old melodies, he created landscape melodies (山水操 shanshui cao 8043.xxx) that were praised by those knowledgeable of music.

Not completed.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. References for 王績 Wang Ji (590 - 644),
ICTCL p. 857 (gives his dates as 585 - 644); Giles; Xu Jian's History, Chapter 5. A. (p.54).

The most complete English reference is, Ding Xiang Warner, A Wild Deer amid Soaring Phoenixes: The Opposition Poetics of Wang Ji; University of Hawaii Press, 2003. The online notice says,

Credited in China as a "transitional" figure, Wang Ji (590-644) is known for his revival of eremitic themes from the earlier Wei-Jin period and for anticipating the rise of regulated verse forms in the "golden era" of Tang poetry. Yet throughout the centuries Wang Ji has puzzled readers and sometimes offended their moral sensibilities by his unapologetic celebrations of his life as a round-the-clock drinker. Until now scholars have treated him primarily as a problem of biography and have struggled to find "evidence" in his work for his reclusive and unwieldy character and, once and for all, to tell the story of his life and thought. This in-depth study of the early Tang-dynasty poet, the first to be published in a Western language, surveys the complete range of Wang Ji's enigmatic literary self-representation and proposes new ways of understanding the poetics behind his practice.

The book has at least 12 references to "zither" and translates at least one poem by Wang Ji that mentions it (see above).

2. Qin Shi entry
#113; 5 lines

3. Nickname of 王績 Wang Ji
"Scholar of Eastern Marshes" (東皋子 Donggaozi); 14827.396 東皋 Donggao ("eastern marshes") was an area near his home, also mentioned in Gui Qu Lai Ci.

4. Wang Ji and Wang Tong
See also Ding Xiang Warner, Transmitting Authority, Wang Tong (ca. 584–617) and the Zhongshuo in Medieval China’s Manuscript Culture; Brill, 2014 (details)

5. Qin Shi entry (called 東皐子 Donggaozi)
The original text begins,


Text is largely from the 新唐書 Xin Tang shu.


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