An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Yangshe Xi 羊舌肸

Oct 25, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Yangshe Xi 羊舌肸, courtesy name Shu Xiang 叔向 (also written 叔響) or Shuyu 叔譽, was a high minister in the state of Jin 晉 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent.), and a member of the house of Yangshe 羊舌. Because he was made grand master (dafu 大夫) of the land of Yang 楊 (near modern Hongdong 洪洞, Shanxi), he is also known as Yang Xi 楊肸.

During the reign of Duke Dao 晉悼公 (r. 573-558), he was recommended by Sima Hou 司馬侯 and was appointed tutor (fu 傅) of crown prince Biao 彪 because he was an expert in historiography. Under the reign of Duke Ping 晉平公 (r. 558-532, i. e. Prince Biao) Xi's brother Yangshe Hu 羊舌虎 was involved in a factional complot with Luan Ying 欒盈. Yangshe Xi was therefore arrested by Shi Gai 士匄 (Fan Xuanzi 范宣子). Qi Xi 祁奚 pledged for his innocence, so that Duke Ping soon ordered to set him free and appointed him Grand Tutor (taifu 太傅), a position that allowed him to participate in government. His arrestation had made clear to Yangshe Xi that the state of Jin was endangered to be divided among the lateral lines of the ducal house and could only survive if all noble families respected the virtuous way to serve their duke in a common cause.

Yangshe Xi shared this view with Yan Ying 晏嬰, an ambassador of the state of Qi 齊 with which he discussed the importance of ritual (li 禮) in politics. He can therefore be seen as in one line with Confucius 孔子 who always stressed that the virtuous conduct of the forefathers had to be revived.

In the state of Zheng 鄭, chief minister Zichan 子產 (d. 522) made use of codified regulations of a penal law that was to replace the unwritten customs of ritual and etiquette. Yangshe Xi also recommended a lot of competent persons for important positions and refused to solely judge according to appearance and reputation.

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Sheng Guangzhi 盛廣智, Li Binghai 李炳海 (1996). "Shu Xiang 叔向", 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), 10.
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Zhang Huizhi 張撝之, Shen Qiwei 沈起煒, Liu Dezhong 劉德重, ed. (1999). Zhongguo lidai renming cidian 中國歷代人名大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol. 2, 707.