An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Bao Shu Ya 鮑叔牙

Oct 20, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Bao Shu Ya 鮑叔牙, also called Baozi 鮑子 or Bao Shu 鮑叔, was chief counsellor (zai 宰) in the state of Qi 齊 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). He was probably the son of Bao Jingshu 鮑敬叔 "Uncle Jing of Bao" who bore the family name Si 姒 and belonged to a noble family.

Bao Shu Ya was known for his wisdom and cleverness. In his youth he was befriended with Guan Zhong 管仲. When a succession crisis broke out after the death of Duke Xiang 齊襄公 (r. 697-686), who had no sons, Bao Shu Ya supported Prince Xiaobai 小白, who fled to the statelet of Ju 莒 south of Qi. Guan Zhong supported Prince Jiu 糾, who was in exile in Lu 魯, yet Xiaobai won the quarrel and was enthroned. He is known as Duke Huan 齊桓公 (r. 685-643). For his support, Bao Shu Ya was appointed chief counsellor.

His first step in office was to recommend Guan Zhong to the Duke, although Guan had supported the competitor for the throne. Bao argued that himself and Gao Xi 高傒 were probably sufficient to govern Qi, but only Guan Zhong would enable the Duke to become a hegemon (ba 霸) over the other regional rulers (zhuhou 諸侯).

In command of an army, Bao Shu Ya traveled to the state of Lu and invited Guan Zhong to come to Qi. The duke of Lu thereupon killed Prince Jiu and arrested Guan Zhong. Yet his friend Bao liberated him and brought him to Qi, where Guan Zhong initiated his famous administrative reforms that critically strengthened the state of Qi.

Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, ed. (1994). Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 389.