An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Bi Gan 比干

Jan 23, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Bi Gan 比干 was a high minister of the late Shang perid 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE). He was the son of King Tai Ding 太丁 and served his nephew, King Zhou 紂, as Junior Preceptor (shaoshi 少師). In that function he remonstrated against the careless conduct of government by King Zhou and admonished him to exert a rule of benevolence and righteousness. When the King did not pay attention to his suggestions, Bi Gan remained in the audience hall for three days. This impertinence enraged King Zhou, so that he accused him of arrogance. "You think", said the king, "that you are a saint. I have head that the heart of a saint has seven openings (qijiao 七竅)". The King thereupon had cut out the heart of Bi Gan to have a glance at his heart. King Zhou was later overthrown by King Wu 周武王 of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE).

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1991). Shiji cidian 史記辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 51.
Yuan Ke 袁珂, ed. (1985). Zhongguo shenhua chuanshuo cidian 中國神話傳說詞典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), 50.