Yan Hui

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For the painter, see Yan Hui (painter).
Not to be confused with Yan Yan, another disciple of Confucius.
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yan.
Yan Hui
Yan Hui 颜回.jpg
Traditional Chinese 顏回
Simplified Chinese 颜回
Statue of Yan Hui in the temple dedicated to him in Qufu, Shandong province

Yan Hui (Chinese: 顏回; Wade–Giles: Yen Hui; 521?–481 BC) was the favorite disciple of Confucius[1] and one of the most revered figures of Confucianism. He is venerated in Confucian temples as one of the Four Sages.


Yan Hui is also known by his courtesy name Ziyuan (Chinese: 子淵; pinyin: Zǐyuān; Wade–Giles: Tzu-yüan), and as Yan Yuan (Chinese: 顏淵; Wade–Giles: Yen Yüan), a combination of his surname and courtesy name. He is also reverently referred to as Master Yan or Yanzi (Chinese: 顏子; Wade–Giles: Yen Tzu).


Yan Hui was a native of State of Lu, and was the son of Yan Wuyou (Yan Lu), one of the earliest disciples of Confucius.[1] Yan Hui was about 30 years younger than Confucius, and became a student of the Master at a young age.[2]

Yan Hui was Confucius' favorite disciple.[3] "After I got Yan Hui," Confucius remarked, "the disciples came closer to me."[2] We are told that once, when he found himself on the Nang hill with Yan Hui, Zilu, and Zigong, Confucius asked them to tell him their different aims, and he would choose between them. Zilu began, and when he had done, the master said, "It marks your bravery." Zigong followed, on whose words the judgment was, "They show your discriminating eloquence." At last came Yan Hui, who said, "I should like to find an intelligent king and sage ruler whom I might assist. I would diffuse among the people instructions on the five great points, and lead them on by the rules of propriety and music, so that they should not care to fortify their cities by walls and moats, but would fuse their swords and spears into implements of agriculture. They should send forth their flocks without fear into the plains and forests. There should be no sunderings of families, no widows or widowers. For a thousand years there would be no calamity of war. Yu would have no opportunity to display his bravery, or Ts'ze to display his oratory." The master pronounced, "How admirable is this virtue!"[4]


When Yan Hui was twenty-nine, his hair was all white. He died at an early age.[4]

After the death of Yan Hui, Confucius lamented, "Heaven has bereft me! Heaven has bereft me!". When told by other students that he was showing "excessive grief", the old philosopher replied: "Am I showing excessive grief? Well, for whom would I show excessive grief if not for this man?".[5] Even years later, Confucius would say that no other student could take Yan Hui's place, so gifted and dedicated Yan Hui had been.[6]


Yan Hui, along with Confucius himself, was venerated by the first emperor of the Han dynasty. The title which he now has in the sacrificial Canon -- Continuator of the Sage (Chinese: 复圣; pinyin: Fù Shèng) -- was conferred in the ninth year of the Jiajing era, A.D. 1530. Almost all the present sacrificial titles of the worthies in the Temple of Confucius were fixed at that time. Yan Hui's place is the first of the Four Assessors, on the east of Confucius.[4]


A fief of 100 households and the rank of 崇聖侯 Marquis who worships the sage was bestowed upon a Confucius descendant, Yan Hui's lineage had 2 of its scions and Confucius's lineage had 4 of its scions who had ranks bestowed on them in Shandong in 495 and a fief of ten households and rank of 崇聖大夫 Grandee who venerates the sage was bestowed on 孔乘 Kong Sheng who was Confucius's scion in the 28th generation in 472 by Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei.[7][8]

The Sui dynasty era official scholar Yan Zhitui composed the 顏氏家訓 Yanshi Jiaxun (Family Instructions to the Yan Clan).[9] His clan was considered as part of the nobility. He lived in the Northern Qi and Liang dynasty.[10] The devastation of the north during the Western Jin's collapse caused the southward journey of Yan Han, who was mentioned in the Guan wo sheng fu by Yan Zhitui. Yan Silu was the son of Yan Zhitui. The Book of Northern Qi mentions Yan Zhitui.[11] The Sui, Northern Qi, and Liang all happened during the lifetime of Yan Zhitui who was born in 531.[12] The Qieyun of Lu Fayan was contributed to by Yan Zhitui.[13] The Sui dynasty, Northern Zhou, Northern Qi, and Southern Liang all employed Yan Zhitui while he lived. He was an alcoholic early in his life.[14] He died in 591 and was born in 531.[15] "Yuanhun zhi" was written by Yan Zhitui.[16] Suicide by hunger strike after the 502 rebellion against Southern Qi was how the grandfather of Yan Zhitui passed away.[17] Yan Zhitui was inspired by the "Admonitions" of Ban Zhao.[18]

Ideology included in the Yan's book contained Confucianism.[19] Yan Zhitui's work was one of the best examples of its kind.[20] Yan Zhitui was a colleague of Lu Fayan who wrote the Qieyun.[21] Yan Zhitui's work was most likely brought by Kibi Makibi to Japan.[22] A word by Shen Yue was cited in Yan Zhitui's book.[23] Specific requirements and dimensions of the casket Yan wanted were detailed in his work.[24] Han Wei congshu (漢魏叢書) includes the work of Yan Zhitui.[25] Indications to how characters were read in southern Chinese speech were given Yan Zhitui's work.[26] Teng Ssu-yu rendered Yan's work into English.[27] Xie Tiao and He Xun were mentioned in Yan Zhitui's work.[28]

The Yan family were from 琅邪 Langye.[29] A military career was sought by exactly two Yans between Yan Zhitui's time and his ancestors back to Confucius while the occupation of literati made up most of the Yan's career.[30] Linguistic topics sometimes appear in the work of Yan Zhitui.[31] Yan Jianyuan was the grandfather of Yan Zhitui. The Baizi quanshu includes the work of Yan Zhitui.[32] Medicine and sicknesses were mentioned in the work of Yan Zhitui.[33] The Southern dynasties received the service of the clan since in 317 northern China was abandoned by the Yan.[34] It is believed that the period between 589 in the Sui and Northern Qi was when Yan Zhitui in the 570s composed his work.[35] Buddhism and Confucianism were included by Yan Zhitui in his work.[36] Buddhism was the religion of the anti-Daoist Yan Zhitui.[37] Wang Xianzhi and Wang Xizhi's calligraphic work were owned by Yan Zhitui.[38]

The role of women was elaborated by in Yan Zhitui's work.[39] A remark was made by Yan Zhitui on rhyme regarding characters.[40] Zhou Fagao commented on Yan Zhitui's work.[41] There was a very significant way in which women were impacted by Yan's work because of the role it played in the intellectual literary canon and the is elabroated on women's roles.[42] Yan Zhitui's work was translated by S. Y. Teng.[43] Government petitions and affairs of the household were run by women in the north according to Yan Zhitui.[44] In 1974 Taiwan Zhonghua shuju in Taibei reperinted Yan Zhitui's work.[45] In 1968 E. J. Brill in Leiden published the translation of Yan Zhitui'w rok by Teng Ssu-yu.[46] 531-591 AD[47] It was included in Volume 4 of T'oung Pao's monographs by E. J. Brill.[48]

Ziyuan was the courtesy name of Yan Hui.[49] Han dynasty anachronisms were pointed out by Yan Zhitui in the Shanhaijing.[50] By the Han dynasty's denouement fanqie appeared as recorded by Yan Zhitui.[51] Annotations were included by Ssu-yü Teng.[52] Contempraneous Chinese society was recorded in Yan Zhitui's work.[53] In 1980 Guji chubanshe in Shanghai under editing by Wang Liqi republished Yang Zhitui's work.[54] Pang Shangpeng,, Yuan Cai, and Yan Zhitui all wrote in the same genre.[55] The topic of sex education on whether to directly instruct it or not was mentioned by Yan Zhitui.[56] Teng's translation was Family Instructions for the Yen Clan: Yen-shih chia-hsun.[57] In 1982 Wenming shuju in Taibei reprinted Yan Zhitui's work.[58]

A Han father who taught Xianbei to his 17 year old son was criticized by Yan Zhitui according to Ye Tan 'Chilege' di yuanlai yuyan by Xing Bingyan.[59] The afterlife was commented on by Yan Zhitui.[60] Instructions on future career and education for kids were recommended by Yan.[61] Illiteracy such as misconstruing phonology and confusing characters was recorded by Yan Zhitui.[62] Wang Liqi added his own explanations on Yan Zhitui's text.[63] The dimensions for the casket specified by Yan Zhitui was the earliest known time a text records the "seven star board".[64]

Yan Zhitui was quoted by Zhu Xi.[65] The role of the mother and wife were commented on by Yan Zhitui.[66] Yan Zhitui worked with Lu Fayan in his circle of companions on the Qieyun.[67] The south was the residence of his clan for eight generations when he was born.[68] Comments on how children are treated by stepmothers and stepfathers were included by Yan Zhitui.[69] Confucian Personalities contains an entry on Yan Zhitui by Albert E. Dien. Yan Zhitui is mentedion in Guan wo sheng fu.[70] Children were more likely to be abused by the stepmother than stepfathers according to Yan Zhitui.[71] The translation by Teng is considered the west's best avilible source on him.[72] In 1980 Guji chubanshe in Shanghai reprinted Yan Zhitui's work.[73] Yan asked for not extravegant funderal arrangements.[74] The examplar of this category of literature was written by Yan Zhitui.[75]

Patricia Buckley Ebrey translated some of Yan Zhitui's work.[76][77] In 1980 Guji chubanshe in Shanghai under editing by Wang Liqi republished Yang Zhitui's work.[78] In 1982 Wenming Shuhu in Taibei republished Yan Zhitui's work.[79] In 1993 Zhonghua shuju in Beijing under the editing of Wang Liqi republished Yan Zhitui's work.[80] Liu Xiaoxian was personally known by Yan Zhitui.[81]

20 slaves and 20 individuals were prescribed for noble families of adequate magnitude by Yan Zhitui while 100s of people could exist in one noble clan. kids and spouses of men were seen as potential issues in regarding to solidarity in the paternal clan.[82] Both Confucianism and Buddhism were recommended by Yan Zhitui.[83] Confucianism was referred to as "outer" while Buddhism was referred to as "inner" by Yan Zhitui.[84]

Yan Zhitui wrote the 冤魂志 Yuan hun zhi.[85]

Yan Zhitui is believed to have inserted an anachronism into Zong Bing's work.[86] A comment on qi and how to master it was made by Yan Zhitui.[87]

Yan Hui's offspring held the title of Wujing Boshi (五经博士; 五經博士; Wǔjīng Bóshì).[88][89][90][91] In 1452 Wujing Boshi was bestowed upon the offspring of Mengzi-Meng Xiwen 孟希文 56th generation and Yan Hui-Yan Xihui 顔希惠 59th generation,[92][93][94][95][96][97][98] the same was bestowed on the offspring of Zhou Dunyi-Zhou Mian 週冕 12th generation, the two Cheng brothers (Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi-Chen Keren 程克仁 17th generation), Zhu Xi-Zhu Ting 朱梴 (Zhu Chan?) 9th generation, in 1456-1457, in 1539 the same was awarded to Zeng Can's offspring-Zeng Zhicui 曾質粹 60th generation, in 1622 the offspring of Zhang Zai received the title and in 1630 the offspring of Shao Yong.[99][100]

In Taiwan there is an office called the "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui" which is held by a descendant of Yan Hui, like the post of "Sacrificial Official to Mencius" for a descendant of Mencius, "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi" for a descendant of Zengzi, and the post of "Sacrificial Official to Confucius, held by a descendant of Confucius.[101][102][103][104]

The descendants of Zengzi still use generation poems for their names given to them by the Ming and Qing Emperors along with the descendants of the other Four Sages 四氏, Confucius, Mencius, and Zengzi.

Family Tree of Yan Hui : 顏子家族大宗世系圖

顏路(顏無繇) Yán Lù (Yán Wúyáo)
顏回 Yán Huí
顏歆 Yán Xīn
顏儉 Yán Jiǎn
顏威 Yán Wēi
顏芃 Yán Péng
顏億 Yán Yì
顏岵 Yán Hù
顏卸 Yán Xiè
顏譽 Yán Yù
顏產 Yán Chǎn (顏高 Yán Gāo)
顏異 Yán Yì
顏愚 Yán Yú
顏逵 Yán Kuí
顏肆 Yán Sì
顏衷 Yán Zhōng
顏凱 Yán Kǎi
顏邃 Yán Suì
顏龠 Yán Yuè
顏綽 Yán Chuò
顏凖 Yán Zhǔn
顏阮 Yán Ruǎn (字懷珍 courtesy name : huái zhēn)
顏亮 Yán Liàng (字世明 courtesy name : shì míng)
顏敫 Yán Jiǎo (字士榮 courtesy name : shì róng)
顏斐 Yán Fěi (字文林 courtesy name : wén lín)
顏盛 Yán Shèng (字叔台 courtesy name : shū tái)
顏魯 Yán Lǔ
顏歡 Yán Huān
顏欽 Yán Qīn (字公若 courtesy name : gōng ruò, 諡曰“貞” posthumous name : zhēn)
顏默 Yán Mò (字靜伯 courtesy name : jìng bó,西晉汝陰太守 In the Western Jin dynasty he became a provincial governor of Ruyin)
顏畿 Yán Jī
顏輦 Yán Niǎn
顏含 Yán Hán (字寵都 courtesy name : chǒng dōu,因平亂有功 because of his meritorious deeds and service,封西平縣侯 granted the title of Marquis of Xiping County,年九十三卒 died at age 93 years,諡曰“靖” was conferred the posthumous title of jing)
顏髦 Yán Máo (字君道 courtesy name : jūn dào)
顏謙 Yán Qiān
顏約 Yán Yuē
顏綝 Yán Chēn (字文和 courtesy name : wén hé)
顏顯 Yán Xiǎn (曾任護軍司馬 Appointed to the post of Minister of War)
顏靖之 Yán Jìngzhī (字茂宗, courtesy name : mào zōng)、
顏延之 Yán Yánzhī(字延年, courtesy name : yánnián)
顏騰之 Yán Téngzhī (字弘道, courtesy name : hóng dào)
Yán Jùn 顏竣(字士遜, courtesy name : shì xùn 顏延之長子 eldest son)
Yán Cè 顏測 (顏延之次子 second son)
颜之推 Yan Zhitui
颜师古 Yan Shigu
颜真卿 Yan Zhenqing


Fusheng Hall, the main sanctuary of the Temple of Yan Hui in Qufu, Shandong province

Yan Hui is venerated at the Temple of Yan Hui, which is located in Qufu's walled city, a few blocks north of the Temple of Confucius.

Yan Hui's tomb is now surrounded by hundreds of tombs of his descendants, forming the Yan Family Cemetery ("Yan Forest"). A stele was installed at his tomb during the Jurchen Jin dynasty, and re-erected during the Ming Dynasty. The tomb is well preserved.[111]


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