2016/01/02

Zheng Xuan - An Influential Confucian Scholar

Zheng Xuan (128-200), courtesy name Kangcheng, was an influential scholar in the study of Confucian classics in the Han Dynasty. He was born in Zheng Gong village in Gao Mi County.

At the age of 13, he could recite Wu Jing (Five Classics). He had read a wide range of books and was immersed in almanac, arithmetic and geography. He was recommended in the village to collect taxes and judge lawsuits. In a poor family, he studied even harder and often went to some scholars in the village for instruction and help. In 157, he was sent to the Imperial Academy for further study, successively under the instruction of Di Wuyuan and Zhang Gongzu. In 160, he went west to Hanguguan, and became a student of Ma Rong, the influential expert in ancient writing.


Zheng Xuan Temple

In 168, he went back to his hometown. But because of poverty, he went to Donglai (today`s Yexian), farming and teaching. Nearly a thousand of people went to visit him and learn from him. In 169, Zheng was implicated in ``Danggu Faction``, a fighting between waiqi (consort clans) and huanguan (the eunuchs), and was detained for several decades. During this period, he lived a reclusive life in mountains and devoted to the notes of ancient books and classics. Especially for He Xiu`s famous books, such as Gong Yang Mo Shou, he made correction on each error. He Xiu accepted whole-heartedly. He explained and interpreted the ancient books and classics. In 181, (the fourth year of Gonghe), Emperor Ling dismissed Danggu and appointed Zheng Xuan as an official. Despite the favorable income, he refused to wear the official costume and fled on the second day.

Tombstone of Zheng Xuan

In 190, Dong Zhuo took over the regency for the weak Emperor Xian and moved the capital to Chang`an. Zheng Xuan was recommended as a chancellor of Zhao, but refused again. In 196, he returned to his hometown. In 199, Yuanshao recommended Zheng to be the maocai, he refused. In 200, during the Guandu war between Yuanshao and Caocao, Yuan Shao foreced Zhengxuan to follow the troop. He stopped at Yuancheng county because of severe illness, but still made notes for Zhouyi. He died in June according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar.