Zhao Bian
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
Qin biographies 首頁
Zhao Bian
- Qin Shi #146
趙抃 1
琴史 #146 2
Raffle ticket: Zhao Bian with a qin and a crane 3    
Zhao Bian, style name Yuedao (1008 - 1084), from Quzhou in what is today southwest Zhejiang province, would have been a near contemporary of Zhu Changwen (1041 - 1100), author of Qin Shi. Zhu is said to have completed this work in 1085, but although Zhao Bian had died one year earlier, it still seems appropriate to translate his biography mostly in the present tense.4 Zhao attained his jinshi during 1034-8, served in the court and then held other positions. He was celebrated for his integrity and benevolence, and particularly noted for his opposition to Wang Anshi.

Some time during 1064-8 Zhao Bian was sent as governor to Sichuan. According to his biography in Song History he took with him nothing but a qin and a crane (see image and its comment). While in Sichuan he is said to have served well; it was said that every night he put on robes, burned incense and submitted to Heaven his acts of the day: he tried never to do something which could not be so submitted. Qinshu Daquan, Folio 18, #38, has qin inscriptions attributed to him.

The original Qin Shi article is as follows (translation tentative):

Zhao Bian, style name Yuedao, is held in high regard because of his incorruptibility and sound statements. From the end of the reign of (Song emperor) Renzong (r. 1023 - 64) until the beginning of the Xianning period (1068 - 78) he had the experience of participating in the national government. Now he has left office to act as the Junior Guardian of the heir apparent. This esteemed man is fond of the qin, (but) his fate is in the four directions. Although his family members do not wish to follow him, his qin and old age (龜鶴 "tortoise and crane") are not yet gone. Princes serve him (or: "From princely affairs") when there is a break, he plays old melodies to calm himself. As a result his spirit from beginning to end has been completely clean and without blemish. He is a model teacher for this generation, so to speak.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Zhao Bian 趙抃 (1008 - 1084)
Online I have also seen Zhao Bian written 趙忭 and 趙汴 . The entry title in Qin Shi is 趙閱道 Zhao Yuedao, using his style name. 38015.282 and Bio/1628. He was from 衢州西安 Xi'an in Quzhou [southwest Zhejiang]. Giles' entry gives Zhao's dates as 994 - 1070.

2. 4 lines

3. Image: Zhao Bian with a qin and a crane
"One qin and one crane" (1.2556 一琴一鶴) came to signify an honest official. Its connection to Zhao Bian is mentioned in Shen Gua's Mengxi Bitan as well as the Song History. The image above is from a Taiwan raffle ticket entitled, "(宋)趙抃琴鶴自隨 Zhao Bian with qin and crane follows his inclinations"; it is dated "68th year of the Republic", i.e., 1979. I found it in a display of raffle tickets at a farm museum in 板頭村 Bantou Cun (Bantou Village), 新港鄉 Xingang district of 嘉義 Jiayi County, Taiwan (板頭社區). The white spots are reflections from the glass case.

4. This includes translating Zhu Changwen's "今 jin" according to its normal meaning of "now" (instead of "well now", as might be possible).

Return to Qin biographies.