Chinese Sages in History

Taoism, Legalism, Confucianism — the three pillars of Chinese philosophy that have influenced all thinking and actions in China. (Image:  Kevinsmithnyc  via   wikimedia /  CC BY-SA 3.0)
Taoism, Legalism, Confucianism — the three pillars of Chinese philosophy that have influenced all thinking and actions in China. (Image: Kevinsmithnyc via wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

‘The Great Sage,’ Confucius

Confucius was born in the Lu state in the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history (771-476 B.C.). His real name was Kong Qiu, despite founding an influential system of beliefs based on his more well-known name “Confucius.” He was a famous philosopher, politician, educator, and the founder of Confucianism in ancient China. Later, he was honored as a “sage,” and became known as “The Great Sage,” “The First Teacher,” and “The Model Teacher for the Myriad Ages.”

‘The Second Sage,’ Mencius

Mencius’s first name was Ke; his courtesy name, the name given when a boy entered adulthood, was Zixing. He was born in the State of Zou during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). He was a famous philosopher, politician, and teacher in ancient China. He wrote the book The Mencius, which is a Confucian classic. He is considered the authentic successor of the Confucius Doctrine, and was honored as “The Second Sage.”

Mencius (372 – 289 BC) was a Chinese philosopher who is the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Mencius was a Chinese philosopher who is the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

‘The Sage of Poetry,’ Du Fu

Du Fu was a great poet of realism in China, and the author of The Poems of Du Fu. He wrote many poems that reflected social conflicts and the nature of real-life in ancient China. Hence, his poems are a true reflection of a complex and turbulent historical era. He was honored as “The Poet-Historian” and “The Sage of Poetry.”

‘The Sage of Ci,’ Su Shi

Su Shi was a renowned poet, litterateur, and painter in the Song Dynasty. He was also one of the Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song dynasties. His works are bold and unrestrained, and he had a great influence on future generations. These characteristics led to him being known as “The Sage of Ci.” Ci is an ancient Chinese form of poetry.

Su Shi was a renowned poet, litterateur, and painter in the Song Dynasty. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Su Shi was a renowned poet, litterateur, and painter in the Song Dynasty. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The Sage of Liquor, Du Kang

Du Kang, also known as Shao Kang, lived in the Xia Dynasty. Du Kang was the first to create liquor, and likewise created the source of a long history of Chinese wine culture. In the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), Cao Cao wrote a timeless poetic masterpiece with the quote: “How to dispel melancholy? Only Du Kang can.” Du Kang was the inventor of wine-making according to ancient Chinese documents. This is why future generations called him the “Sage of Liquor.”

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