An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Gan Long 甘龍

Jul 22, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Gan Long 甘龍 was a high official in the regional state of Qin 秦 during the early Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE).

In 359 BCE, Counsellor-in-chief Shang Yang 商鞅 had proposed to Duke Xiao 秦孝公 (r. 362-338) to undertake substantial reforms, mainly in the creaton of a reliable law code. Duke Xiao thereupon convened his ministers and advisors to discuss the matter.

Gan Long and Du Zhi 杜摯 belonged to the faction which voted against the need to alter the existing structure of administration, mainly with the argument that a law code would deviate from the instructions made by the ducal ancestors and the regulations of the royal house of Zhou. These included the stable and perseverant indoctrination by "Saints" and wise men. These indoctrinations by superior persons would be sufficient to guide a state successfully, while a law code would give power into the hands of bureaucrats and undermine the position of the ruler.

Du Zhi advocated to cling to transmitted customs of rites and propriety, with the precautionary argument that "if there is not a hundredfold yield, one does not change the standard; if a vessel has not yielded a tenfold use [of its value], one does not discard it" (li bu bai, bu bian fa; gong bu shi, bu yi qi 利不百,不變法;功不十,不易器).

The dispute was conducted with fierce arguments, but in the end, Shang Yang prevailed, and his reforms were carried out.

Lu Xiaoting 陸曉延 (2000). "Gan Long 甘龍", in Zhonghua Qin wenhua cidian bainweihui 《中華秦文化辭典》編委會, ed. Zhonghua Qin wenhua cidian 中華秦文化辭典 (Xi'an: Xibei daxue chubanshe), 153.
Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, ed. (1994). Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 438.