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Qin Biographies     Liezi Yu Feng 首頁 
- Qin Shi Bu #19 2
列子 1
琴史補 #19  
"Liezi's qin" and its facing illustration; another 3 
The book of Zhuangzi says Liezi was a man who could ride the wind and travel wherever he wished. This is the subject of the melody
Liezi Rides the Wind. A more historical approach holds that he was "an allegorical personage created by Zhuangzi for purposes of illustration. The scholars of the Han dynasty mistook Zhuangzi's creation for a real philosopher of the 4th C. BCE, and some of them even went so far as to produce an abstruse work which is still attributed to him by enthusiasts...."4

This work, entitled simply "Liezi", may include early writings, but its publication is considered to date from the 4th C. CE at the earliest. It has been translated into English.5

Illustrations of ancient qins generally include a qin said to have been made by Liezi from the wood of a tree struck down by lightning (see the biography below).

Original Qin Shi biography:6

The person called Liezi was a man of Zheng. His learning originated with the Yellow Emperor. Laozi exclaimed that he was a Daoist who lived in Zhengpu for 40 years, but no one knew him. Once when roaming on Mount Tai he saw lighting cut down a tong tree, so he used (the wood) to make a qin; it has a loud sound. He created two melodies, Xiangling and Kuyu. He devised 72 small modal compositions and made 160 elegant compositions.

The two melodies and other musical items are referenced with the commentary on the qin illustration.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Liezi 列子
1921.2 列子 says it is a book once attributed to Lie Yukou. 1921.115 列禦寇 says it is the title of a chapter (#32) of the book of Zhuangzi, after a man of that name, Lie Yukou. It adds that Lie Yukou was a man of 鄭 Zheng (modern Henan area; the biography here specifies Zhengpu [鄭圃 40513.281], the Zheng game preserve at Putian) during the Warring States period, and that a preface by Liu Xiang to a (lost) early version of the book of Liezi says that Liezi lived at the same time as 鄭繆公 Duke Mu (Miao/Miu/Mou?) of Zheng. 莊子,讓王編 Zhuangzi, Yielding Power (Chapter 28), tells a story of Liezi, though poor and starving, turning down a gift from the Zheng chancellor 子陽 Ziyang. Liezi's wife was not happy with this, but Liezi responded that the chancellor was unpopular and that one day the people would certainly rise up against him and kill him (which apparently happened ca. 400 BCE). The dictionary entry adds some details trying to identify people, but with no real further information on Liezi the person. Some argue that information on him was lost during the Qin dynasty's burning of books; others say he never existed.

The Wikipedia enty Liezi discusses the book; Lie Yukou discusses arguments as to whether anyone of this name ever existed.

2. 4 lines; sources given are 劉向別錄 Extra Records of Liu Xiang and 廣博物志 Guangbowu Zhi.

3. The illustration above is one of 33 famous "historical" qins, each with an accompanying scene, from Fengxuan Xuanpin (1539); see QQJC, II/27-28. Compare this with an earlier illustration of the same supposed qin. The earlier illustration has no accompanying scenes, but the qin style is the same and the commentary almost the same. It is not clear whether the scene was simply impressionistic, was supposed to depict someone using a qin in this style, or was supposed to be qin creator himself.

4. Giles, Lie Yukou

5. For example, A.C. Graham (transl.), The Book of Lieh-Tzu. Mandala, London, 1961.

6. The original text is:

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