An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Wujing dayi 五經大義

Sep 13, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Wujing dayi 五經大義 "The great meaning of the Five Classics" was a commentary on the Five Confucian Classics (Wujing 五經) written during the Eastern Jin period 東晉 (317-420) by Dai Kui 戴逵 (c. 325-396), courtesy name Andao 安道. He hailed from the commandery of Qiaojun 譙郡 (modern Suxian 宿縣, Anhui) and was a famous painter, sculptor, zither player and thinker.

Dai stood under the influence of the great Eastern Han-period 東漢 (25-220 CE) philosopher Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127-200), whom he already venerated when he was a child. As a young man he became a disciple of Fan Xuan 范宣, who dispised the luxurious life of the upper class. When Sima Xi 司馬晞 (316-381), Prince of Wuling 武陵王 and Counsellor-in-chief, heard of his expertise in zither playing, he invited Dai Kui to the court, but the honest young man angrily shattered his music instrument and explained that he was not willing to become an underling (lingren 伶人, musician) of a prince.

In his book Lun 論 "Discourses" Dai Kui explained that the most important matter was to seek for the truth, and to venerate the Way of the ancient masters, instead of admiring outwardness.

His commentary on the Classics was 3-juan long, but the book went lost during the Tang period 唐 (618-907). Only a small amount of fragments was recovered by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Ma Guohan 馬國翰 (1794-1857). They are to be found in his series Yuhanshanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 474.