Tag Archives: Gongye Chang

Biography of Qiguan Shi: the wife of Confucius

wife of Confucius

The wife of Confucius was a woman from his ancestral state of Song with the family name of Qiguan (亓官). Her first name isn’t known. She is often referred to as Qiguan Shi (亓官氏) or Lady Qiguan.

Confucius married her in 533 BCE at the age of 19.  A year later, Qiguan bore the couple’s only son Boyu (伯魚). She and Confucius are believed to have had two daughters as well, both of whose names are unknown. One of them probably died at an early age, while the other was married off by Confucius to a convicted criminal called Gongye Chang (公冶長), who he deemed “would make a good husband” and be declared “innocent” of his alleged crime. There are no records of whether Confucius consulted his wife or daughter about this decision. Presumably, given the prevailing customs of the time, the answer is negative. Continue reading Biography of Qiguan Shi: the wife of Confucius

Followers of Confucius: Gongye Chang

Gongye Chang (公冶長), also known as Zichang (子長), Zizhi (子之), or Gongye Zhi (公冶芝), was born either in the state of Lu or the state of Qi. Even though he spent some time in prison, Confucius believed he was innocent and gave his daughter to him in marriage.

Nothing else is known about Gongye, unless you count some fantastical tales of his amazing supernatural abilities based on his ability to understand the language of birds and other animals. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Gongye Chang

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a second chance

second chance

子謂公冶長,「可妻也。雖在縲絏之中,非其罪也。」以其子妻之。
Confucius said of Gongye Chang: “He would make a good husband. Although he has spent time in prison, he was innocent.” He gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage. (1) (2)

Everyone has said or done something dumb in the past. Does that mean that they should be denied the chance of a job or perhaps even have their current livelihood taken away from them because someone has dredged up a drunken post or image from the murky depths of the internet? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a second chance

Analects of Confucius Book 5: by numbers

Book 5 is a very different beast to the previous four books of the Analects. Rather than the usual aphorisms of the Master, it features a compilation of Confucius’s opinions on a dozen of his followers and fourteen contemporary and historical figures.

He certainly doesn’t hold back on his criticisms either. In Chapter 10, he famously castigates his young and rather conceited follower Zai Yu (宰予) when he finds him asleep one day: “Rotten wood cannot be carved; dung walls cannot be troweled. What’s the point of scolding him anymore?”

Even Zigong (子貢), one of his closest and most loyal followers, is given a frank and bruising appraisal when he asks Confucius what he thinks of him in Chapter 4 and receives the response that he is a “vessel” (器/qì) and thus still has a long way to go before becoming a leader (君子/jūnzǐ).

At least Confucius is candid about his own limitations as well, admitting to Zigong in Chapter 9 that neither of them are the equal of his protégé Yan Hui (顏回).  He also shows quite astonishing courage (or bullheadedness) in his willingness to flout social conventions by marrying his daughter to  a convicted criminal called Gongye Chang (公冶長) in Chapter 1 because he believed him to be innocent. I very much doubt that he consulted the poor girl before making this decision. 

To help you understand the context of Confucius’s comments about all the other people featured in Book 5, I have posted a series of pen portraits of them. You can find links to them on the Contemporary Figures and Historical Figures pages.