Although Qidiao Kai (漆雕開) only makes a single appearance in the Analects, he was a highly influential disciple who went to establish his own school, which became one of the eight branches of Confucianism identified by the philosopher Han Fei (韓非) in the third century BCE.
Born in 540 BCE, 11 years after Confucius, Qidiao Kai was originally named Qidiao Qi (漆雕啟). However, his given name of “Qi” was changed to the “Kai” in texts written during the Han dynasty because it was the same as the given name of the Emperor Jing, Liu Qi, and thus wasn’t allowed to be used by the common people.
Qidiao was also known as Zikai (子開) or Ziruo (子若), and was a native of the state of Cai. Two other members of his clan, Qidiao Tufu (漆雕徒父) and Qidiao Chi (漆雕哆), are also believed to have been followers of Confucius.
According to some accounts, Qidiao Kai became disabled after being cruelly tortured in jail for a crime that he didn’t commit. This didn’t prevent him from gaining widespread acclaim for his virtue or from continuing his scholastic pursuits. In addition to running his own school, he is said to have written a book rather immodestly entitled Master Qi (Qidiaozi). Unfortunately, no records of this or any of his other teachings remain.
Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 5, Chapter 6
When Confucius recommended that Qidiao Kai should seek an official position, he replied: “I’m not ready to be trusted for such a responsibility yet.” Confucius was delighted.