- An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art
About [Location: HOME > History > Tang > Kong Yingda < Persons of the Tang period < Persons]

Persons in Chinese History - Yan Shigu 顏師古

Periods of Chinese History
Yan Shigu 顏師古 (581-645), courtesy name Yan Zhou 顏籀, was a Confucian scholar of the early Tang period. He hailed from Wannian 萬年 near the capital Chang’an (modern Xi’an 西安, Shaanxi) and was a grandson of the scholar Yan Zhitui 顏之推. Based on this family background, he received an excellent scholarly education and focused mainly on two fields, namely the linguistic and phonetic study of ancient texts, including textual critique, and second, historiographical studies in particular, mainly the history of the Han dynasty and its official dynastic histories. Yan occupied the office of a 安養尉 under the Sui dynasty, and switched allegiance to the Tang, who made him 朝散大夫、中書舍人. During the reign of Emperor Taizong 唐太宗, he was appointed 中書侍郎、秘書少監. His last office was 弘文館學士. In 630, Emperor Taizong ordered the official compilation of the corpus of the Five Classics with an authoritative wording. As an expert in the field, Yan Shigu was entrusted with the work of collation of the different versions of the various textual variants of the corpus that were circulating since the Han period, and to establish a “correct” and orthodox standard version (zhengding liujing wenzi 正定六經文字). Yan made use of the vast number of books in the imperial library. After two years of work, he and his team submitted a corpus of “correct versions” of the Five Classics (wujing dingben 五經定本) to the throne. Emperor Taizong had this version commented by experts and scholars, of whose opinion Yan Shigu answered critically. In 663, the official version was promulgated and ordered to be distributed throughout the empire. The first scholar who used the official version was Kong Yingda 孔穎達, who relied on Yan Shigu’s achievements for his commentary Wujing zhengyi 五經正義. Other important writings of Yan Shigu are the dictionary Kuangmiu zhengsu 匡謬正俗 and the commented book Jijiuzhang zhu 急就章注. Apart from that, his commentary on the Hanshu is surviving, known as Hanshu zhu 漢書注.

Source: Pang Pu 龐樸 (ed. 1997), Zhongguo ruxue 中國儒學 (Shanghai: Dongfang chuban zhongxin), Vol. 2, p. 101.

Nov 11, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Important Chinese of the...