Yan Hui
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
Qin Biographies       Yasheng Cao 首頁
Yan Hui
- Qin Shi #19
顏回 1
琴史 #19 2
"True image of Yan Hui" 3            
Yan Hui (514 -483), literary name Ziyuan and also called Yanzi (Master Yan), was poor, but he was the favorite disciple of Confucius, who would visit him when not otherwise busy. Since all of the Master's students had to understand music Yanzi of course did as well. The passage here from Qin Shi includes a story, apparently from Liezi, in which Yan Hui plays the qin for Confucius. No title is given for the melody.

Yan Hui has been connected to the melody Xuan Mei because of the story in the Zhuangzi relating how Yan Hui once told Confucius that he can just "sit and forget" (meditate?").

More directly, though, the later melody Yasheng Cao has lyrics in the voice of Confucius praising Yan Hui. Here Confucius also laments Yan Hui's early death: according to the Shi Ji his hair turned white and he died at the age of 29.4

The Qin Shi entry is as follows (original below):

Yan Hui, style name Ziyuan, had great ethics that were only slightly different from those of Confucius. He was ("missing passage") a close disciple of Confucius. As for not yet understanding what brought pleasure, could this be applied to Ziyuan? It was such things as eating from a plain bowl, drinking from a gourd, and living in a poor alleyway: others could not have endured this, but (Yan) Hui still enjoyed himself. He knew the highest form of pleasure. (Once when) Confucius was relaxing at home, Zigeng came to serve him and noticed that (Confucius) had a sad demeanor. Zigeng did not dare ask about this, but went out and told Yan Hui. Yan Hui then took up his qin and sang. On hearing this Confucius called for Yan Hui to come in and asked him, "Why are you enjoying yourself alone?" Yan Hui answered, "I rejoice in heaven and know about destiny and so have no worries." Confucius said, "You merely know the not worrying part of rejoicing in heaven and knowing destiny, and thus having no worries. You do not know that rejoicing in heaven and knowing destiny is actually the greatest worry. This rejoicing and knowing is not the ancients' so-called rejoicing and knowing. Not rejoicing and not knowing are the true rejoicing and the true knowing. Therefore, there is nothing not to rejoice and nothing not to know, nothing not to worry about and nothing that is not anything." Yan Hui then raised his hands in respect and said, "I got it." For the rest of his life he never stopped playing, singing or intoning from books.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Yan Hui (Wiki)
44545.35 顏回, son of .143 無繇 Wuyou (a former student of Confucius), style name 子淵 Ziyuan. Later names include:

Yan Hui's qin playing is discussed in the book of Liezi.

2. 10 lines, as follows:
顏回,字子渊,道德充茂,去夫子一間耳。孔子(缺)之門人,蓋未有不知樂者,況子淵乎?故一簞食,一瓢飲,在陋巷,人不堪其憂,而回也不改其樂。知樂之致也。仲尼閑居,子貢入侍,而有憂色。子貢不敢問,出告顏回,顏回援琴而歌。孔子聞之,果召回入,問曰:「若奚獨樂?」回曰:「樂天知命故不憂。」回所以樂也。孔子曰,「汝徒知樂天知命之無憂,未知樂天知命有憂之大也。夫樂而知者非古人之所謂樂知也,無樂無知是真樂真知;故無所不樂,無所不知, 無所不憂,無所不為。」顏回拜手曰:「回亦得之矣!」弦歌誦書終身不輟。 (Return)

3. Image: 顏回真影 True Image of Yan Hui
From an old woodblock print copied in 孔子聖蹟圖 Traces of the Sage Confucius, p.140.

4. Early death
This has led to some modern claims that Yan Hui had a form of progeria (Wiki; see under "notable cases" ).


Return to QSCB, or to the Guqin ToC.