Ji Kang, also known as Xi Kang, (Chinese: 嵇康, 223–262) was a Chinese author, poet, Taoist philosopher, musician and alchemist. He was one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove who engaged in separating themselves from the dangerous political situation of third century China, in favor of devoting themselves to a life of art and leisure. Ji Kang is noted as an author and famous for having been a composer and zither-player.
As a thinker, Ji Kang wrote on longevity, music theory, politics and ethics. Among his works were Yangsheng Lun (Essay on Nourishing Life), Shengwu Aile Lun (on the Absence of Sentiments in Music), Qin Fu (A Composition on the Qin), and Shisi Lun (Discourse on Individuality). As a musician, Ji Kang composed a number of solo pieces for Qin.
Ji Kang was highly critical of Confucianism and challenged many social conventions of his time. As such, he was considered scandalous and seditious. He married Cao Cao's granddaughter (or great-granddaughter according to some). Ji assumed a post under the Wei, but was not particularly interested in government work. When Sima Zhao came to power, he intended to grant Ji a position as a civil official. However, Ji was uncooperative and behaved insolently to Zhong Hui, who was sent to inform him of Sima's offer. Later, one of Ji's friends was imprisoned after being framed. Ji defended him and testified in his case, and was also sent to jail as a result. Following Zhong Hui's advice, Sima Zhao sentenced Ji to death. Three thousand university students signed a petition to release him, but the appeal was denied. Before his execution, Ji Kang asked for his zither and played his swan song, the famous guqin masterpiece Guangling san, which music is presumed to be forever lost.