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Yi Qi (Bo Yi and Shu Qi)
- Qin Shi #13
夷、齊 (伯夷、叔齊) 1
琴史 #13 2
Bo Yi and Shu Qi3  
"Yi Qi" refers to the brothers Bo Yi and Shu Qi, famous recluses who each ran off so that the other could inherit. Joining up and having heard of the virtues of Wen Wang, they went west to Shanxi. However, when they found out that Wen Wang had died and his son Wu Wang was about to attack his lord, they ran off again, this time to Shouyang Mountain,4 where they died of starvation.

Bo Yi and Shu Qi grew up as sons of Guzhu Jun, the Lord of Guzhu,5 now called Lulong,6 a district in northeastern Hebei province. The father wanted his youngest son, Shu Qi, to inherit the princedom, so the eldest son Bo Yi ran off, so as to avoid conflict. When Shu Qi then also ran off, the middle son inherited.

Bo Yi is said to have written a Gathering Thornferns Melody (Cai Wei Cao).7 There is no surviving qin tablature with this name, but it is Folio 47, #20 in Yuefu Shiji. There the introduction and lyrics are as follows.

Qin Ji says,

Gathering Thornferns Melody was written by Bo Yi.

Shi Ji says,

When Wu Wang attacked Yin, Bo Yi and Shu Qi were ashamed of this. They would not eat the grain of Zhou, but hid in Shouyang mountain....

Yuefu Jieti says,

Picking Thornferns Melody is also called Chen You Gao Ju8

(Lyrics attributed to Bo Yi),


The original biography in Qin Shi is as follows.

(Bo) Yi and (Yi) Qi were two sons of 孤竹君 Guzhu Jun. When Bo Yi wanted to allow his brother to have the kingdom, Wen Wang....

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a
separate page)

1. 伯夷 Bo Yi; 叔齊 Shu Qi
Bo Yi is title of Chapter 61 of the Book of History. See Nienhauser, The Grand Scribe's Records, Volume VII, pp.1 - 8. Their story is also discussed in Alan Berkowitz, Patterns of Disengagement. (Return)

2. Qin Shi Entry 13
9 lines

3. Image of Bo Yi and Shu Qi
Downloaded from this article, which seems to connect the images to the Tongbo Palace (桐柏宫 Tongbo Gong) at Tiantai Shan (a new Tongbo Palace, the old one now being under water because of a dam).

4. 首陽山 Shouyang Mountain
There are a number of ancient mountains with this name; one possibility is the one in Shanxi (see Nienhauser, VII, p. 3).

5. 孤竹君 Guzhu Jun (Lord of Guzhu [in Lu Long, next footnote])
Guzhu Jun (lit.: Lord of Solitary Bamboo) is the title of a melody in Xilutang Qintong (see Zha Guide, 23/198/--). It was originally reconstructed and recorded in the 1990s by 成公亮 Cheng Gongliang, but more recently many people have learned it from him or his recordings (example by "古竹君 Guzhu Jun".)

"Lord of the solitary bamboo" has also been used as a nickname.

The introduction in 1525 tells of a man of Jin (265-420) seeing an inscription on a grave. The full text is as follows:

"On this mound (tomb) is a solitary stalk of bamboom. Breezes blow constantly but gently, Underneath is a centenarian, sleeping forever and never knowing dawn." These are words a man of Jin unexpectly discovered on a grave, so he called the man (or: so the grave had the title?) "Lord of the Solitary Bamboo". These words were rather crude and abrupt, but they can cause people to feel respectful. Whatever emotions come from such an abandoned tomb are the same, whether past or present. Without the achievements of a Mengzhuang (i.e.,
Zhuangzi) few can understand such things. Hearing this being played ("beaten"), one cannot move its sounds (?).

Translation tentative.

On the other hand, Qinshu Daquan, Folio 11, #41, suggests that Guzhu Jun is an alternate title for the melody 採薇操 Cai Wei Cao. 7111.35 孤竹君 says 商墨胎初之封號 Lord of Guzhu was the reign title of Motai Chu of the Shang (or 殷 Yin) dynasty, then identifies him as the father of Bo Yi and Shu Qi, referring to their biography in the Grand Scribe's Records.

6. 盧龍 Lulong
Lulong is a district in the northeast part of what is today Hebei province

7. Gathering Thornferns Melody (Cai Wei Cao 采薇操 or 採薇操)
This melody title, found on some old melody lists, concerns the story of Bo Yi and Shu Qi. 41010.112 采薇歌 Cai Wei Ge relates this story from Shi Ji #61, with no mention of 采薇操 Cai Wei Cao. 12564.72 採薇操 Cai Wei Cao (note that different Cai) refers to Folio 47, #20 in Yuefu Shiji.

8. 晨遊高舉 14269.xxx; Gaoju 46302.xxx Morning Wander in Gaoju/High Lift? (Return)

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