Biography (SGZ): Shi Xie (Weiyan)

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Shi Xie (Weiyan)
士燮 (威彥)
(AD 137-226)

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
translated by jiuwan (Giao Chau)

Shi Xie styled Weiyan was a man from Guang Xin of the Cang Wu commandery. His ancestors originally came from Wen Yang of the Lu state [in the Yu province]; however, due to the uprising period of Wang Mang, they migrated into the province of Jiao (Jiao zhou). For six generations up to Shi Xie’s time [they remained there].

Shi Xie’s father, Shi Ci, was appointed as Ri Nan’s Grand Administrator (tai shou) during the reign of Han Emperor Huan (Han Huan Di).

Traveling to the capital [Luo Yang] in his youth, Shi Xie studied the Spring and Autumn Annals, and Zuo Chronicle under the tutelage of Ying Chuan’s Liu Zi Qi. He was recommended as “Incorrupt and Filial Pious” (xiao lian), and he served as the Imperial Secretariat Cadet (shang shu lang) to which he later resigned. However, after his father’s funeral, [Shi Xie] was recommended as “Flourishing Talent” (mao cai). [With this new recommendation, he was] then removed from his post as Prefect of Wu and transferred to become Grand Administrator of Jiao Zhi.

[Shi Xie’s] brother Shi Yi was originally a Postal Controller (du you) at a commandery level. When the Inspector (ci shi) Ding Gong was summoned to return to the capital [Luo Yang], Shi Yi sent him off attentively and respectfully for which Ding Gong was greatly appreciative. Before his departure [Ding Gong] told [Shi Yi], “If the Inspector is guilty, then there would be trouble within the Three Affairs” [referring to his replacement].

[Returning to the capital,] Ding Gong was appointed as Minister over the Masses (si tu) to which he summoned Shi Yi [to join him]. However, Ding Gong soon resigned and was replaced by Huang Wan, who also treated Shi Yi with great courtesy. During the Dong Zhuo chaos, Shi Yi resigned and returned home (1).

The Inspector [that replaced Ding Gong] of Jiao province, Zhu Fu was killed in the revolt lead by the Yi barbarians throwing the provincial and commandery administration in confusion. Shi Xie followed this up by memorializing for: Shi Yi to become the Grand Administrator of He Pu commandery; his next brother, the Prefect (ling) of Xu Wen, Shi Wei to become the Grand Administrator of Jiu Zhen commandery (Chen Shou’s notes: The [archaic] character ‘Wei’ is a reverse low pitch, see Zi Lin); Shi Wei’s younger brother Shi Wu (fourth brother to Shi Xie) to become Grand Administrator of Nan Hai commandery.

Shi Xie was a type of scholar that had a great understanding and knowledge, yet he was modest in person. Of past times, scholars of the Middle Kingdom emigrated [south] in attempts to escape the turmoil. They numbered over several hundreds.

[Shi Xie] would indulge in and enjoy reading the Spring and Autumn Annals, as well as understanding [the principles]. Yuan Hui of the Chen state and the Prefect Imperial Secretariat (shang shu ling), Xun Yu wrote praising [his scholarship and administration in the government],

‘Jiao zhou’s Gentleman of the Shi family [referring to Shi Xie], in addition to political affairs, indeed excelled and was knowledgeable in his studies. In the middle of chaotic times, for over twenty years he was able to protect the commandery and safeguard it against strife in the frontier regions.

The people were able to maintain their profession, thus, prospering [under his administration] just as Dou Rong protecting the He Xi region of old. What further praises are there to add?

When the affairs are settled [for the day, he] would study the classics. In particular the Spring and Autumn Annals along with the Zuo Chronicles, noting the small details. We have often inquired into the ambiguities of the texts; each has their own opinions, truly their meanings are deep.

In addition, the Book of Shang connecting the ancients to the present thus divine righteousness is complete. Hearing from the capital’s instructor, the studies from the ancients till present there is no contention. Now we desire the Zuo Chronicles and Book of Shang’s eternal righteousness.’

That’s how they perceive things to be.

Together Shi Xie and his brothers all governed commanderies, and they held control of the whole province. For ten thousand li [5,000 km] around, they were supreme in rank and authority with no superiors. Whenever they entered or exited there were sounds of chimes; their carriages majestic and ceremonial; flutes were blown and drums were beaten; and horsemen filled the roadside around. Often there were several tens of Hu Ren (foreigners/barbarians) that would burn incense in between the hubs of the wheels. Wives and concubines rode in curtained carriages; whereas, sons and relatives on horseback followed the troops. At the time, they held the greatest honor causing the numerous barbarians [of the surrounding area] to submit in fear. Even the great Commandant [Zhao] TuoA did not hold this great of an honor (2). Shi Wu was the first to die, due to an illness.

Some time after Zhu Fu’s death, the [Latter] Han government dispatched Zhang Jin to become the Inspector for Jiao province; however, Zhang Jin was soon killed by his subordinate general, Qu Jing. The Governor (mu) of Jing province, Liu Biao, dispatched [his own subordinate] Lai Gong of Ling Ling commandery as replacement to Zhang Jin. Also at this time, the Grand Administrator of Cang Wu, Shi Huang, passed away. In response, Liu Biao also sent Wu Ju to replace him. Together, Wu Ju and Lai Gong arrived [to assume their posts].

When the Han [government] heard of the news of Zhang Jin’s death, they issued to Shi Xie an imperial signet:

‘Jiao zhou is on the border regions, to the south is the sea; difficult it is to proclaim kindness to the superiors; as well as the righteousness separated by partition. [We] know that the rebellious thief Liu Biao has dispatched Lai Gong with plans to take the southern lands. [We] hereby appoint Shi Xie to be General of the Gentleman of the Household that Soothes the South (sui nan zhong lang jiang); moreover, with direct authority over the seven commanderies, [you] shall be the Grand Administrator of Jiao Zhi as before.’

Afterwards, Shi Xie dispatched Zhang Min to the capital to pay respects and tributes. At this time, All under Heaven was in turmoil and the roads were hazardous; nevertheless, Shi Xie continued to do his duties and send tributes. In response, [the Han government] sent a special decree appointed him General who Tranquilizes the Outer Regions (an yuan jiang jun) as well as Marquis of the District of Long Du (long du ting hou).

Eventually Wu Ju and Lai Gong fell out of favor with each other. The former raised troops to attack Lai Gong, forcing him to flee back to Ling Ling.

In the fifteenth year of Jian An [AD 210], Sun Quan dispatched Bu Zhi to become the Inspector of Jiao Zhi. Upon Bu Zhi’s arrival, Shi Xie led his brothers to received and recognize [the court of Sun Quan]. Based upon suspicions of Wu Ju’s loyalty, Bu Zhi executed him.B Sun Quan further appointed Shi Xie to become General of the Left (zuo jiang jun).

In the final years of the Jian An reign, Shi Xie sent his son – Shi Xin – as hostage [to Sun Quan]. Shi Xin was appointed as Grand Administrator of Wu Chang commandery. The various sons of Shi Xie and Shi Yi were all appointed with the rank of General of the Gentlemen of the Household (zhong lang jiang).

Shi Xie also persuaded Yong Kai from Yi zhou and others to bring the commandery citizens over to the East (Sun Quan). Sun Quan greatly appreciative, appointed Shi Xie as General of the Guards (wei jiang jun) and Marquis of Long Bian (Shi Xie’s capital in Jiao Zhi which is situated near present-day Hanoi, Vietnam); furthermore, his younger brother Shi Yi was appointed as Lieutenant-General (pian jiang jun) and Marquis of a Chief District.

Shi Xie regularly sent an envoy to Sun Quan with tributes consisting of: incense and fine cloth (kau silk or pinikon); pearls and great cowry shells; ornamental colored glass “liu li” [imported from the Roman Empire: HHS 88/78, pp.2919; also SGZ 30/Book of Wei, Pei Song Zhi quoting Wei Lue, pp.861]; kingfisher feathers; tortoise shells; rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory; exotic fruits such as bananas, coconuts, long an “dragon-eyes fruit” and lichees. There was never a time that [the tributes] did not arrive. At the same time, Shi Yi also sent tributes of horses that commonly consisted of several hundreds of steeds at a time. In response, Sun Quan bestows substantial favors on them.

Shi Xie had been in office [of Jiao Zhi] for over forty years, that is, until his death at the age of ninety sui C in the fifth year of Huang Wu [AD 226].

Sun Quan thought that the Jiao Zhi region was too distant so he split the province: He Pu, and the territories north of it [the Yu Lin, Cang Wu, and Nan Hai commanderies], was formed into one province and renamed Guang zhou with Lu Dai as the Inspector (replacing Bu Zhi); Jiao Zhi, and the territories south of it [Jiu Zhen and Ri Nan commanderies], was formed into one province but kept the name Jiao zhou with Dai Liang as the Inspector.

In addition, Sun Quan dispatched Chen Shi to replace [the deceased] Shi Xie as Grand Administrator of Jiao Zhi. Lu Dai stayed behind at Nan Hai, while on the other hand, Dai Liang and Chen Shi advanced together to He Pu.

In response, one of Shi Xie’s sons Shi Hui claimed his father’s title – Grand Administrator of Jiao Zhi – to dispatch troops to refuse Dai Liang’s entry. Subsequently, Dai Liang stayed at He Pu.

Huan Lin of Jiao Zhi, whom Shi Xie had promoted to become a Magistrate, remonstrated and kow-towed to Shi Hui to receive Dai Liang in; consequently, Shi Hui became enraged and killed Huan Lin with a bamboo rod.

Huan Fa, the son of Huan Lin’s elder brother – Huan Zhi, combined with some of the clan’s troops to attack Shi Hui. Shi Hui closed the city gates and settled in for the siege. Huan Zhi and the others [including Huan Fa] had laid siege for several months, yet they were unable to advance any further; subsequently, a cease-fire was settled upon where each side would lead their troops to withdraw.

Nevertheless, Lu Dai had an imperial decree to execute Shi Hui; consequently, from Guang zhou he lead the troops to advance swiftly, traveling day and night. Passing through He Pu, Dai Liang accompanied him and they advanced together.

Shi Yi’s son Shi Kuang, the General of the Gentleman of the Household, and Lu Dai were old friends [since the time he was a hostage to Wu]; accordingly, Shi Kuang accompanied Lu Dai serving as the latter’s shi you cong shi (Instructor-Friend Attendant Clerk).

A letter was first dispatched to Jiao Zhi announcing paths of either destruction or fortune [for Shi Hui to choose]; thereupon, Shi Kuang was sent to meet with Shi Hui and to persuade him to surrender. After locating Shi Kuang, Lu Dai was received by Shi Hui, Shi Hui’s elder brother – Shi Zhi, Shi Hui’s two younger brothers – Shi Gan and Shi Song, and other [family members]; in total there were the six of them that were stripped naked, exposing their flesh, to welcome Lu Dai. Lu Dai thanked them, ordered them to get dressed, and advanced to the commandery.

Early next dawn, [Lu Dai] invited Shi Hui, along with all his brothers, to come into the guest chambers to meet. Lu Dai then rose up to read the imperial decree, counting Shi Hui’s crimes. Shi Hui and all his accomplices were immediately executed by an ambush group that was hidden. The heads were then sent to Wu Chang (3) [Sun Quan’s current capital at the time].

Sun Quan also charged Shi Yi, Shi Wei, Shi Kuang, and Shi Xie’s hostage son – Shi Xin - all to be guilty; thus they were reduced to common status [and stripped of their possessions]. Moreover, Shi Yi and Shi Wei were executed under law several years later.

Shi Xin died of illness with no heir to succeed him. An imperial decree was issued to give his widowed wife a monthly ration of rice, and a total monetary worth of forty thousand was bestowed upon her.

(1) According to the Book of Wu (Wu shu): There would be trouble due to the fact that Huang Wan and Dong Zhuo had mutual hatred for each other and that Shi Yi worked diligently for Huang Wan. Dong Zhuo was cruel and thus remarked, “Shi Yi, in the department of the Minister over the Masses, should not be employed.” Thus, Shi Yi was not advanced in rank. When Dong Zhuo entered [the capital], Shi Yi resigned to return home. <return>

(2) According to Ge Hong’s book, Records of the Gods and Immortals (shen xian zhuan): Three days after Shi Xie died of illness, the immortal Dong Feng gave him a pharmaceutical pill. Upon Dong Feng shaking his head to swallow the pill, Shi Xie’s eyes immediately opened and his arms could move again. His facial appearance gradually returned to normal; in half a day’s time, he was able to sit up; after four days, he was able to speak again; thereupon returning to normal. Dong Feng styled Jun Yi was a man from Hou Guan. <return>

(3) According to Sun Sheng: “A man that is compassionate encompasses the far and near, never losing his trust; able to safeguard his achievements, never losing his righteousness. Formerly in the past when Huan of Qi established his foundations, his virtue was manifested since the meeting at Ke; when Wen of Jin continued the line, his righteousness was manifested in subjugating Yuan. Because they were able to restore the nine to combine into one (jiu he yi kuang), thus they were able to achieve great designs, moreover, they set up long lasting models for many future generations to follow.

Shi Kuang, who was serving as shi you [cong shi] under Lu Dai, acted as the envoy to Shi Hui. Shi Hui and all his brothers came out stripped naked, exposing their flesh. Moreover, they were sincere [in the surrender]; however, Lu Dai exterminated them all in order to achieve merit. A gentleman knows that Sun Quan is someone who doesn’t have far-sighted visions; moreover, Lu Dai’s prosperity is one to not last long.” <return>

Translator Notes
(A) In a series of campaigns between 220 BC and the final victory in 214 BC, the armies of Qin were able to conquer and annexed the far southern regions (present-day Guang Dong, Guang Xi, and northern Vietnam). This marked the first time of Chinese control (by Qin Shi Huang) over the Yue barbarians and the other tribes.

During the fall of Qin a few years later, Zhao Tuo capitalized on the turmoil of the north and was able to isolate the passes establishing his own administration and kingdom; thus the kingdom of Nan Yue (Ancient Vietnam) was born. Zhao Tuo and his successors were able to rule for almost a hundred years until it was finally re-conquered by Han Emperor Wu in 111 BC (Former Han period).

Under the Latter Han administration between the years AD 40-43, the Trung sisters led a rebellion against the government; however, they were defeated by the Han general Ma Yuan. The heroic Trung sisters are still honored in Vietnam as symbols of national independence and resistance. It wasn’t until centuries later that Ma Yuan was celebrated as a god and hero by the Vietnamese.

Although Shi Xie held greater honor than Zhao Tuo, nevertheless, all four remain honored in Vietnam today. Shi Xie is honored in Vietnamese national history as King Si (or Si Nhiep in Vietnamese). <return>

(B) In Bu Zhi’s SGZ bio (SGZ scroll 52/Book of Wu 7), there are further details on this incident.

It says that Wu Ju harbored secret intentions: on the surface he appeared to comply; while on the interior, he disobeyed. Bu Zhi invited him to a meeting where the former took this opportunity to kill the latter. After the killing of Wu Ju, Shi Xie and his brothers recognized Bu Zhi as their “official” Inspector.

Around this time, Yong Kai killed the Grand Administrator Zheng Ang in Yi zhou, and he sent messengers to Shi Xie. Shi Xie in turn relayed the news to Bu Zhi. Although Bu Zhi was formally recognized as the Inspector of the province, the real power rested with Shi Xie. The former did not press the latter too hard; thus the two were able to live peacefully side by side for ten years until Bu Zhi was replaced by Lu Dai in AD 220. See Bu Zhi’s bio for further details. <return>

(C) Shi Xie died at the age of ninety sui in Chinese terms, whereas, by Western recognition that would make him 89 years of age. Chinese age differs from Western age.

When a person is born, immediately, that person is at the age of 1 sui no matter what month they were born in that year. After the New Year, going by the Lunar calendar, that person would then be the age of 2 sui.

There can sometimes be confusion due to the twelfth month of the Lunar calendar usually falling on January in the Western calendar. If the person is born in January, he is 1 sui and then a month later (February of the New Year), he is 2 sui. For example, a person born in January 21, 1978 is at the age of 25 turning 26 in January 2004; on the other hand, going by the Lunar calendar, that person is already 27 and in February of the same year becomes 28. By the Lunar calendar, that person is born in the 12th month of 1977, not 1978 like the Western calendar. Therefore, a compensation of one sui must be added on and another for the New Year change.

Thus with Shi Xie’s death in 226, subtracting 89 years places his birth in AD 137. <return>

Copyright © 2004 jiuwan (Giao Chau)
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi with Pei Songzhi’s annotations.