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Liu An
- Qin Shi #65
劉安 1
琴史 #65 2
Liu An's studies 3 
Liu An (d. 122 BCE), or An, Prince of Huai Nan,4 was a grandson of the first Han emperor, Liu Bang. Liu An's father was 厲王 Prince Li and they were distant relatives of Liu Xiang.

The book Huainanzi, credited to Liu An, is a collection of 21 essays written by scholars at his court.5 References to the qin include the following (menioned here from Qinshu Daquan but see further below):

Liu An is said to have written the poem Zhao Yin Shi (#12, Summons for a Recluse), included in some editions of the Chu Ci. This is the earliest known poem on a topic which became quite popular after the Han dynasty. The qin melody Zhao Yin is connected to this theme.

Liu An's biography in Qin Shi, as elsewhere, discusses his search for immortality, mentioning the so-called "Eight Dukes". The biography of Juanzi says Liu An was unable to understand Juanzi's Tiandiren Jing, but there is no mention of this here.

Qin illustration 34 in Taiyin Daquanji shows what it says is a qin named Yun Quan by Liu An, but that Liu An was from Jin, so it is presumably a different Liu An.6

The original Qin Shi essay begins as follows.7

Prince An of Huainan, a son of Prince Li, loved calligraphy and playing qin. As a result the melody Ba Gong Cao (Melody of the Eight Dukes; also see in YFSJ) has been transmitted. The Eight Dukes were all immortal deities, and because the prince was interested in Daoist practices they visited him.... (Translation incomplete; the entry mostly relates Liu An's interactions with the Eight Dukes, then ends by saying that around this time Liu An got involved in political intrigue and, as a result, before he could take the elixer himself he committed suicide. It ends by adding that history says nothng about his achieving immortality.).  
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Liu An 劉安
2270.222 劉安. See also in Wikipedia.

2. 12 lines; the biography title is 淮南王安 King An of Huainan

3. Image: Liu An's studies (劉安學)
This image was copied from a since-deleted internet source that said it came from an illustrated Ming edition of Liexian Quanzhuan, an expanded later version of Liexian Zhuan. According to other online sources the image upper right shows Liu An studying the Dao (in particular elixirs of immortality?) from one of the Eight Dukes. As for the chicken/rooster and the dog, according to The World of Chinese this story alludes to or is the source of the expression, "Even chickens and dogs ascend to heaven" (雞雞犬升天 jī quǎn shēng tiān). It explains,

This idiom means relatives and followers of a high official get easily promoted, but its origin didn’t have anything to do with nepotism. According to legend, Liu An, a great litterateur and thinker living in the Han dynasty, became immortal after he invented an elixir. It’s said that Liu casually scattered some of the leftover elixirs to his yard, so his chicken and dogs also had some and became immortal. The chengyu that came from this story is formed: "一人得道,雞雞犬升天 (If one person achieves immorality ('the Dao'), even their chickens and dogs ascend to heaven).”

The Qin Shi biography says that Liu An received a/the 丹經 Dan Jing (Classic of Cinnabar) from the Dukes. Is this the book that Liu An is holding? No such book actually survives. Also, this Qin Shi biography mentions nothing about chickens or dogs.

4. 18117.25 淮南王安 Huainan Wang An. Wang (normally king) is generally translated "prince" for relatives of the Han emperor.

5. Huainanzi 淮南子 (Wikipedia)
In 139 BCE Liu An, prince of Huainan, presented this book to the Han emperor Wudi. There is now a complete translation into English: The Huainanzi, A guide to the theory and practice of government in early Han China, translated and edited by John S. Major, Sarah A. Queen, Andrew Seth Meyer, and Harold d. Roth. New York, Columbia University Press, 2010. Relevant passages include:

  1. 脩務訓:「今夫盲者目不能別晝夜,分白黑,然而搏琴撫弦,參彈複徽,攫援摽拂,手若蔑蒙,不失一弦。使未嘗鼓瑟者,雖有離朱之明,攫掇之捷,猶不能屈伸其指。何則?服習積貫之所致。」
    Xiuwuxun, 9. Major et al, Cultivating Effort, 19.5 translates this: "Now in the case of a blind person, his eyes cannot distinguish day from night or differentiate white from black; nevertheless when he grasps the qin and plucks the strings, triply plucking and doubly pressing, touching and plucking, pulling and releasing, his hands are like a blur, and he never misses a string. If we tried to get someone who had never played the qin to do this, though possessing the clear sight of Li Zhu or the nimble fingers of Jue Duo, it would be as if he could neither contract nor extend a finger. What is the reason for this? Such things are made possible only through repeated practice so they become habitual.“)
  2. 脩務訓:「若此而不能,間居靜思,鼓琴讀書,追觀上古及賢大夫,」
    Xiuwuxun, 9. Major et al, Cultivating Effort, 19.5 translates this: "However, people of later ages did not have the leisure to sit and still their thoughts, playing the qin and reading books, reflecting on observations of high antiquity, befriending worthies and great men...."
  3. 脩務訓 11: Boya (q.v.) breaks his strings (是故鍾子期死而伯牙絕弦破琴)
  4. 脩務訓: 「琴或撥刺枉橈,闊解漏越,而稱為楚莊之琴,側室爭鼓之。」
    Xiuwuxun, 13. Major et al, Cultivating Effort, 19.7 translates this: "A qin may be twangy and sharp, crooked and bent, with its resonance gone and its aftertones excessive, but if it is said to have been the qin of King Zhuang of Chu, then it is [prized], and the favored will contend to play it."
  5. 脩務訓:「山桐之琴,澗梓之腹,雖鳴廉修營,唐牙莫之鼓也。」
    Xiuwuxun, 13. Major et al, Cultivating Effort, 19.7 translates this: "Although qins made of mountain tong wood with sounding boards of river valley catalpa may sound as pure, lingering and clear as [the music of] Master Tang or Bo Ya, no one plays them.
  6. 脩務訓, 13: A qin named 號鍾 Hao Zhong.
  7. Boya (q.v.) and Hu Ba. Chapter 17 (Major et al, p.626.)

There are other references here to Huainanzi Chapters 2, 3, 5, 8-16, 20 and 21.

6. Liu An of Jin 晉劉安
The qin named Cloud Spring (雲泉 Yun Quan, Qin illustration 34), is attributed to a 劉安 Liu An of 晉 Jin. 2270.222 mentions several other people named Liu An, but there is no mention of Jin. For various Jin see in Wikipedia. It most importantly refers to both a dynasty (265–420) and to a state during the Spring and Autumn Period, centered in the Shanxi area.

7. Chinese original (12 lines) begins,

淮南王安,厲王之子好書鼓琴,故傳有《八公操》.... See full translation in Pisano, p.75.


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