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Fan Ji
- Qin Shi #55
樊姬 1
琴史 #55 2
Fan Ji; see full image          
Fan Ji (ca. 600 BCE), was a consort of King Zhuang of Chu. There is a biography of her in Lienü Zhuan by Liu Xiang. Her story is also told with the surviving qin melody called Lienü Yin. There are many poems in her honor, and a memorial to her at her supposed grave in Hubei province.3

At least two sets of poems in Yuefu Shiji concern her story,

  1. Folio 58, #10, has some short commentary that Fan Ji wrote Lienü Yin,
    then qin song lyrics called Lienü Cao by Meng Jiao

  2. Folio 29 relates the full story from Lienü Zhuan, then has Matching Song lyrics by Shi Chong and others. These are called Chu Fei Tan (Lament of the Chu Concubine), the name of a qin melody that survives only in lists (see Qin Cao, Hejian Yage, #19).

The original Qin Shi biography begins as follows:

Fan Ji, a righteous woman of Chu, was a consort of King Zhuang of Chu. King Zhuang loved to carouse, but Fan Ji did not dare....He was devoted to hunting, so she abstained from meat for two years. Touched by her determination King Zhuang gave up hunting.

(There is then the story that she admonished King Zhuang to dismiss Yuqiu Zi and promote Shunshu Ao. This is followed by a quotation of lyrics entitled Lienü Yin,4 saying they are in Cai Yong's Qin Cao (the first of the Nine Preludes), then a final comment. There seems to be no mention here, or anywhere for that matter, of her actually playing the qin, only of composing a melody that became a qin tune or song.)

There is a lot about Fan Ji in popular culture. 5

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Fan Ji references
15796.51 樊姬 (Fan Ji) tells story of her fasting because King Zhuang liked to hunt, then the story that she admonished King Zhuang to dismiss Yuqiu Zi and promote Shunshu Ao. The reference given is the 賢明傳 Xianming Zhuan section of Lienü Zhuan. Her biography in Qin History is presumably based on the one in Lienü Zhuan.

2. 13 lines (Return)

3. Mound of Fan Ji (樊姬冢 Fan Ji Meng) and Grave of Fan Ji (樊姬墓 Fa Ji Mu)
An internet search suggests two places claiming to have the grave and or mound of Concubine Fan (also called 樊妃冢 Fan Fei Meng and 樊姬墓 Fan Fei Mu). Both are near 荊州 Jingzhou, a city in Hubei province, on the north side of the Yangzi about 100 miles downriver from the Three Gorges Dam.

  1. North of Jingzhou in 九里台 Jiulitai, perhaps also called 九里冢 Jiuli Mound, there are signs marking a mound and/or grave. From an online image this area seems undeveloped.
  2. In 江陵縣 Jiangling County, the next county south of Jingzhou, and 5 km north of 江陵城 Jiangling City. Specifically, Yang Gang's Poetry Dictionary locates it as 位于紀南城,與郢都故城之間 situated between Recall South City and Ying Capital Old City. I have not found these on a map.

Jingling City might actually be Jingzhou, in which case these two are the same. Wherever the grave is, Yang Gang's Poetry Dictionary, pp. 661/2, has extracts from three poems about Fan Ji. The first is by 張說 Zhang Yue (667 - 731), said to have been written at her grave. The second is by Liu Yuxi (772 - 842). The third is by 馮譽驥 Feng Yuji (19th c).

4. See Qin Fu, p. 744. The lyrics quoted are:


5. Fan Ji opera
15796.52 is an opera by 舒位 Shu Wei (Qing dynasty) called Fan Ji Tightens her Hair (? 樊姬擁髺 Fan Ji Yong Gua), but it concerns a man of the latter Han dynasty, 伶元 Ling Yuan, and his concubine Fan Ji, discussing the story of 趙飛燕 Zhao Feiyan (see LXS, p.768). (Return)


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