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  • Avital H. Rom (a1)

The Huainanzi text (淮南子 presented in 139 b.c.e. compiled by Liu An 劉安 179–122 b.c.e.), while defining itself as a political guide, is replete with references to Music (yue 樂) itself and music-related terms. While no chapter of the work’s twenty-one chapters is specifically dedicated to the subject of music, no single chapter of it is without musical references. This gives rise to the question: Which functions could music possibly have in such an overtly political text?

What this article will examine are the interactions between music and the social and political spheres in the Huainanzi. An analysis of the text’s musical references reveals an intriguing, multidimensional attitude toward music, touching upon moral discourse, discourse on political power, cosmological perceptions, and much more.

The article suggests a dual function of music in the text—on the one hand, music serves as a rhetorical tool for the authors of the Huainanzi, and on the other hand, it is a subject of discussion in its own right. For each of these functions of music, a model is proposed. The first model depicts the innovative musical conceptions of the Huainanzi; the second demonstrates how, through an analysis of musical references in the text, a model of sagely rulership is revealed. These models are illustrated and embodied in the human realm.


劉安(公元前 179–前 122)撰寫的《淮南子》(成書於公元前 139 年), 儘管基本上是討論政治思想的記載, 但是它包括許多關於“樂”的記錄以及音樂相關的文本。雖然全書二十一章裡沒有專門論述音樂的章節, 但是沒有一個章節是對音樂隻字未提的——由此引發了這樣的問題:在這樣的政治文本中, 音樂起到了什麼樣的作用呢?

本文旨在研究《淮南子》中體現的音樂和社會政治層面的相互影響, 通過分析書中與音樂相關的文本, 揭示了一個多元化的對待音樂的態度, 涉及了道德話語、政治權力話語、對宇宙的認知等諸多內容。

本文提出了《淮南子》文本中音樂的雙重功能:一方面,音樂是該書編著者們使用的一種修辭手段;另一方面, 音樂本身也是該書討論的一個主題。本文為上述兩種功能分別提出了模型,第一個模型闡釋了《淮南子》中創新性的音樂理念, 第二個是通過分析書中的音樂相關文本提出的賢明統治的模型。

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Louis Laloy , “Hoai-nan Tze et la musique”, T’oung Pao (2nd. ser.) 15.4 (1914), 501–30

Chenyang Li , “The Ideal of Harmony in Ancient Chinese and Greek Philosophy”, Dao 7 (2008), 8198

Celestial Cycles and Mathematical Harmonies in the Huainanzi ”, Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 16 (1994), 121–34

Ernest G. McClain , “Chinese Cyclic Tuning in Late Antiquity. With translations by Ming Shui Hung”, Ethnomusicology 23.2 (1979), 205–24

Lothar von Falkenhausen , “On the Early Development of Chinese Musical Theory: The Rise of Pitch-Standards”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 112.3 (1992), 436

Michael Puett , “Constructions of Reality: Metaphysics in the Ritual Traditions of Classical China”, in Chinese Metaphysics and Its Problems, ed. Li Chenyang and Franklin Perkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 120–29

Roel Sterckx , “Transforming the Beasts: Animal and Music in Early China”, T’oung Pao 86.1 (2000), 146

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Early China
  • ISSN: 0362-5028
  • EISSN: 2325-2324
  • URL: /core/journals/early-china
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