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Persons in Chinese History - Jia Kui 賈逵

Jia Kui 賈逵 (30-101 CE), courtesy name Jia Jingbo 賈景伯 was a Confucian philosopher in the early decades of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) . He was a descendant of the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) politician and writer Jia Yi 賈誼. Jia Kui was a representant of the old character text school (guwen jingxue 古文經學). He occupied the post of Left Leader of the court gentlemen (zuo zhonglangjiang 左中郎將) and was also palace attendant (shizhong 侍中). Jia Kui's father Jia Hui 賈徽 was already a scholar studying the Confucian Classics, especially Liu Xin's 劉歆 interpretation of the Zuoshi Chunqiu 左氏春秋 "Zuo's Interpretation of the Spring and Autumn Annals" (Zuozhuan 左傳) and the Zhouguan 周官 "Offices of the Zhou Dynasty" (i.e. Zhouli 周禮). He learned the old character version of the Shangshu 古文尚書 "Book of Documents" from Tu Hui 涂惲 and Mao's version of the Shijing 毛詩 "Book of Songs" from Xie Manqing 謝曼卿. Jia Hui also compiled a handbook to the Zuozhuan, the Zuoshi tiaoli 左氏條例. Jia Kui was already an expert in the Five Classics 五經 as a teenager. He studied Xiahou Sen.'s 大夏侯 version of the Shangshu and other new character Classics (jinwenjing 今文經). The historiographical book Guoyu 國語 was also among their preferred texts because it covered the same timeframe as the Classic Chunqiu.
During the Later Han period the apocryphal versions (chenwei 讖緯) and interpretations of the Confucian Classics were very fashionable, so that Jia Kui tried combining the old character text versions with the apocryphal versions. Emperor Zhang 漢章帝 (r. 75-88 CE) ordered Jia Kui to write an explanatory text to the old character Shangshu and the Zuozhuan that was to surpass the two commentaries Gongyangzhuan 公羊傳 and Guliangzhuan 榖梁傳. Jia Kui selected 30 examples from the Zuozhuan to explain the relationship between ruler and minister and that between father and son. He explained that the Zuozhuan, as a commentary to the Chunqiu laid importance on these relations while the Gongyang commentary pointed at matters of rule and power. Jia Kui explained that the Zuozhuan in fact included a prove that the house of Liu 劉 (the Han dynasty) was destined to rule over the empire, as successors of the mythical emperor Yao 堯. Emperor Zhang was so impressed that he ordered Jia Kui teaching the Zuozhuan to the Confucian scholars. Jia Kui participated in the famous Confucian conference of the White Tiger Hall 白虎觀 and discussed with Li Yu 李育 the problems of the new character text Zuozhuan and the Gongyangzhuan.
The literary production of Jia Kui was very vast. He wrote a lot of poems and other prose texts, besides his commentary Zuoshizhuan jiegu 左氏傳解詁 to the Zuozhuan and the Guoyu jiegu 國語解詁 to the Guoyu. While these have survived, his commentaries Chunqiu Zuoshi changzhuan 春秋左氏長傳, Shangshu guwen tongyi 尚書古文同異, Maoshi zayi nan 毛詩雜義難 and Zhouguan jiegu 周官解詁 are lost, except some fragments collected by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholars Ma Guohan 馬國翰 (Yuhan shanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書) and Huang Shi 黃奭 (Hanxuetang congshu 漢學堂叢書).


Sources:
Pang Pu 龐樸 (1997). Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學, vol. 2, p. 64. Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin.

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September 12, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail