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Persons in Chinese History - Gan Bao 干寶

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Gan Bao 干寶 (286-336?), courtesy name Gan Lingsheng 干令升, was a historian and philosopher of the Eastern Jin period 東晉 (317-420). He came from Xincai 新蔡 (modern Xincai, Henan) and was known for his vast knowlege of all traditional writings. During the reign of Emperor Yuan 晉元帝 (r. 317-322) he was appointed court gentleman (lang 郎) and was than entrusted with the compilation of the dynastic history. After his participation in the suppression of a peasant rebellion in southern China he was made magistrate (ling 令) of Shanyang 山陽, then governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Shi'an 始安, then returned to the central government apparatus as right secretary to the Minister of Education (situ you zhangshi 司徒右長史) and cavalier attendant-in-ordinary (sanji changshi 散騎常侍).
The Confucian scholar Gan Bao studied the Classic Yijing 易經 "Book of Changes" and compiled a new interpreations that largely followed the paths of the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) scholar Jing Fang 京房 and renounced the Daoist interpretation of the book. Gan Bao also criticized Wang Bi 王弼 for his speculative interpretation of the "Highest Extreme" (taiji 太極) in the Book of Changes.
Gan Bao has written the books Zhouyi zhu 周易注, Zhouyi yaoyi 周易爻義, Zhouyi zongtu 周易宗塗, Zhouyi wennan 周易問難 and Zhouyi yuanpin lun 周易元品論, that are all unfortunately lost.
While he was not very fond of the Daoist philosophy of Laozi 老子 and Zhuangzi 莊子, Gan Bao was very interested in stories about Daoist immortals, and compiled the collection Soushenji 搜神記. The original version with a length of 30 juan "scrolls" is lost, and what is transmitted until today, is a compilation of fragments. It is Gan Bao's most famous contribution to Chinese literature and one of the earliest texts of the genre of novellas on supernatural events (zhiguai 志怪).

Source: Xiao Yuan 曉源 (1996), "Gan Bao 干寶", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升 (ed.), Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 87.

March 1, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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