Yan Lu (顏路) was one of the earliest followers of Confucius and the father of the sage’s favorite follower and protégé Yan Hui (顏回).
Otherwise known as Yan Wuyou (顏無繇), he was born in the state of Lu six years after Confucius in 545 BCE and led a humble existence. He was so poor that when Yan Hui died he had to ask Confucius to sell his carriage to buy an exterior coffin for his son’s burial. Confucius had to refuse the request because Yan Hui achieved sufficient status to merit such an honor. In addition, as a former minister it would have been a serious breach of ritual propriety for Confucius to participate in a funeral procession on foot.
Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 11, Chapter 8
顏淵死，顏路請子之車以為之 。子曰：「才不才，亦各言其子也。鯉也死，有棺而無 ；吾不徒行，以為之 ，以吾從大夫之後，不可徒行也。」
When Yan Hui died, his father Yan Lu asked Confucius if he could sell his carriage so that he could pay for an outer coffin for his son. Confucius said: “Talented or not, a son is a son. When my son Li died, he was buried in an inner coffin but there was no outer coffin. I wouldn’t go on foot in order to give him one because it wasn’t proper for me as a former minister to go on foot.”