Wang Huizhi
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Wang Huizhi
- Qin Shi #92: Wang Ziyou
王徽之 1
琴史 #92 王子猷2
Ziyou visits Dai 3        
The entry is entitled "Wang Ziyou", but this was a nickname of Wang Huizhi, a son of Wang Xizhi (321 - 379).4 Wang Huizhi, like his father was well-known as a calligrapher as well as a man of letters. As related in Giles, "He lived in retirement, surrounding himself with bamboos, for which he had a great fondness...."

Several stories about Wang Huizhi connect him to guqin

  1. When his brother Xianzhi died, Huizhi himself went directly to Xianzhi's home, sat down on his "spirit bed" and plucked at his brother's qin. However, even after a long time he couldn't get it to produce a melody, or even play in tune. He sighed and said, "Alas and alack! Both man and qin have died." This expression more broadly came to be used by someone who, when seeing an object that had been cherished by a deceased friend, is reminded of that friend. The expression might then better be translated as, "My friend and his/her treasured object have both died".5
  2. Ziyou once set out to visit Dai Kui in the snow, but when he got to Dai Kui's door, feeling exhausted, he turned around and went home. This is connected to the qin through the melody Ziyou Visits Dai.6
  3. Once by chance Ziyou met Huan Yi by a riverbank; they had a discussion leading to Huan Yi playing a melody called Plum Blossoms (Mei Hua) on the flute. This is said to have inspired the existing qin melody Meihua Sannong.

The biography in Qin Shi begins,

Wang Huizhi, style name Wang Ziyou, was a son of Yishao (Wang Xizhi). He was unfailingly unconventional. He was in the army as a cavalryman for Huan Chong.7 When his brother Xianzhi died, Huizhi hastened home to bury him. Without crying he directly sat on the bed where his brother's spirit lay, took Xianzhi's qin and played it for a long time without playing in tune. Sighing he said, "Alas, Zijing, the man and the qin are both dead....

Translation incomplete.8

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Wang Huizhi 王徽之
21295.1950 王徽之 Wang Huizhi, style name 子猷 Ziyou. See also Giles.

2. Qin Shi #92: 6 lines (Return)

3. Image: Ziyou visits Dai
The original scroll, On a Snowy Evening Visiting Dai (雪夜訪戴圖), by 張渥 Zhang Wo (Yuan dynasty) is in the Shanghai museum. (Copied from here).

4. 王羲之 Wang Xizhi (321 - 379; Wikipedia)
Wang Xizhi, style name 逸少 Yishao, was a noted literatus and scholar official. He is also perhaps China's most famous calligrapher, particularly associated with the poetic gathering at Lanting Pavilion, described in connection with the melody Liu Shang. Lyrics on this occasion attributed to him are set to music in the melody Lin He Xiuxi.

Wang Xizhi had at least seven sons and two daughters. All the sons were noted as calligraphers and all but Caozhi were at Lanting. In order they were:

  1. 王玄之 Wang Xuanzhi; eldest son; his only known poem is the one at Lanting.
  2. 王凝之 Wang Ningzhi; married Xie Daoyun
  3. 王渙之 Wang Huanzhi
  4. 王肅之 Wang Suzhi
  5. 王徽之 Wang Huizhi (above)
  6. 王操之 Wang Caozhi
  7. 王獻之 Wang Xianzhi (344-388; style name 子敬 Zijing), youngest son but often said to have been the best calligrapher. A story related above features both him and Huizhi as qin players.

Other attendees at the Lanting gathering with similar names:
王彬之 Wang Binzhi (字道生; compare 王彬, 3rd son of Wang Xizhi's grandfather, 王正 Wang Zheng)
王蘊之 Wang Yunzhi (字叔仁; 330--384)
王豐之 Wang Fengzhi

A daughter of Wang Xizhi's eldest daughter 王孟姜 Wang Mengjiang married the father of Xie Lingyun.

5. "人琴俱亡 Ren Qin Ju Wang" and the Death of Wang Zijing (Wang Xianzhi)
The expression 人琴俱亡 ren qin ju wang, literally, "person and qin havw both died", generally referring to lamenting the death of a friend, might thus also have a loose connection to the older story of Boya and Ziqi.

21295.1950 relates the story of Wang Huizi playing qin in honor of his dead brother, Wang Xianzhi. There is no attribution but it is in several sources including 晉書 Jin Shu ("弟獻之卒,徽之直下靈牀坐,取獻之琴彈之,久而不調。歎曰:「嗚呼子敬,人琴俱亡。」" and Shishuo Xinyu.

1/1050 relates Shishuo Xinyu version of the same story (傷逝 Shang Shi Mourning Lost Loved Ones); see Mather, 17/16).

6. Ziyou Visits Dai (子猷訪戴 Ziyou Fang Dai)
Wang Yizou visits Dai Kui.

7. Huan Chong 桓沖 (d. 385)
Noted military man; biography in Giles.

8. The Qin Shi biography does not tell story of Ziyou meeting Huan Yi.

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