Kong Anguo

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Kong Anguo
Born ca. 156 BC
Died ca. 74 BC
Residence Chinese philosophy
Other names Kong Ziguo
Academic background
School or tradition Confucianism
Influences Fu Sheng
Shen Pei
Academic work
Era Ancient philosophy
Main interests Shangshu
Notable works Shangshu Kongshi Zhuan
Influenced Sima Qian
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Kong.

Kong Anguo (Chinese: 孔安國; Wade–Giles: K'ung An-kuo; ca. 156 – ca. 74 BC),[1] courtesy name Ziguo (子國), was a Confucian scholar and government official of the Western Han dynasty of ancient China. A descendant of Confucius, he wrote the Shangshu Kongshi Zhuan, a compilation and commentary of the "Old Text" Shangshu. His work was lost, but a fourth-century forgery was officially recognized as a Confucian classic for over a millennium.


Kong Anguo was a native of Qufu in Lu, one of the many semi-autonomous kingdoms of the Western Han dynasty. He was the second son of Kong Zhong (孔忠) and an eleventh-generation descendant of Confucius.[2] He studied the Classic of Poetry and Shangshu (Book of Documents) from the famous Confucian scholars Shen Pei and Fu Sheng.[2] Kong also served in the court of Emperor Wu of Han as the Grand Master of Remonstrance (諫大夫).[3]

Old Text Shangshu[edit]

According to tradition, the local ruler Prince Gong of Lu demolished a building of the Kong family complex in the process of enlarging his palace, and some ancient texts were discovered hidden in a wall, including Shangshu. They had apparently been hidden there in order to escape the book burning of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. This version of Shangshu contained 16 more chapters than the one transmitted by Fu Sheng. As the hidden texts were written in the ancient seal script, this newly discovered version is called "Ancient Script" or "Old Text" Shangshu, whereas Fu Sheng's version is called the "Modern Script" or "New Text".[3] Kong Anguo compiled and wrote a commentary to the Old Text called Shangshu Kongshi Zhuan (尚書孔氏傳, literally Kong's Commentary of Shangshu), and the famous historian Sima Qian studied the text from him.[2]

However, the Shangshu Kongshi Zhuan was later lost during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD).[4] In the early fourth century, during the Eastern Jin dynasty, a purported copy of Kong's work suddenly reemerged. Scholar Mei Ze submitted a copy of the Old Text Shangshu to Emperor Yuan of Jin, along with a preface supposedly written by Kong Anguo. The Jin court accepted Mei's version as authentic. In 653, during the Tang dynasty, Mei Ze's Old Text further became the official version of the Confucian classic. Although many scholars had questioned the authenticity of Mei's version over the centuries, it maintained its official status for more than 1000 years until the Qing dynasty.[5] Mei Ze's version is now recognized as a forgery.[4]


  1. ^ Declercq 1998, p. 169.
  2. ^ a b c 孔安國 [Kong Anguo] (in Chinese). Xinhua. 2003-09-24. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Kong Anguo". Chinaknowledge.de. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  4. ^ a b Underhill 2013, p. 454.
  5. ^ Declercq 1998, pp. 169-170.