An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Shan Tao 山濤

Feb 20, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Shan Tao 山濤 (205-283), courtesy name Juyuan 巨源, was a writer of the Wei period 曹魏 (220-265). He was one of the Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove (zhulin qixian 竹林七賢).

He came from Huai 懷 (near modern Wushe 武陟, Henan) and was befriended with Ji Kang 嵇康, Ruan Ji 阮籍 and Xiang Xiu 向秀. In his youth he was known for his magnanimity, although he did not like the crowds. This corresponds to his preference of the Daoist writings Laozi 老子 (Daodejing 道德經) and Zhuangzi 莊子. Shan Tao was related by marriage to the powerful general and regent Sima Yi 司馬懿, and therefore had easily access to state offices. During the Cao-Wei period he occupied the offices of director in the Ministry of Rites (libu lang 吏部郎), court gentleman for attendance of the General-in-chief (da jiangjun congshi zhonglang 大將軍從事中郎), left scribe of the Counsellor-in-chief (xiangguo zuo zhangshi 相國左長史), and after the foundation of the Jin dynasty was made Chamberlain for dependencies (da honglu 大鴻臚), regional inspector (cishi 刺史) of Jizhou 冀州, Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 吏部尚書) and concurrently palace attendant (shizhong 侍中), and finally Minister of Education (situ 司徒, see Three Dukes).

When he left the first post, he recommended Ji Kang.

The court often relied on his knowledge of the human nature, and his wide connections, to fill important government posts. Shan Tao equally recommended Confucian and Daoist scholars. He also suggested to appoint Yang Gu 羊祜 and Ruan Xian to high state offices.

Of his writings, only a few fragments have survived.

Li Zhonghua 李中華 (1992). "Zhulin xiqian 竹林七賢", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chuabanshe), Vol. 3, 1613.
Li Binghai 李炳海 (1996). "Shan Tao 山濤", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, eds. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 77.