David R. Knechtges

Jia Kui 賈逵 (30–101), zi Jingbo 景伯

Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature

Early Eastern Han scholar and writer.

Jia Kui’s natal place was Pingling 平陵 in Fufeng 扶風 (north of modern Xi’an). He was the ninth generation descendant of Jia Yi 賈誼 (200–168 b.c.e.). Jia Kui’s father Jia Hui 賈徽 had studied the Zuo zhuan, Guoyu, and Zhou li with Liu Xin 劉歆 (d. 23). Jia Kui continued his father’s textual studies, especially in the Zuo zhuan and Guo yu. He wrote a commentary to both of these works and presented it to Emperor Ming (r. 57–75) ca. 67). During this time both Jia Kui and Ban Gu 班固 (32–92) were assigned to compile the state history. In 74 a flock of “divine birds” landed in the imperial palace. Emperor Ming commanded Jia Kui, Ban Gu, and others to compose eulogies to commemorate this auspicious occurrence. When Emperor Zhang (r. 75–88) took the throne in 75, he ordered Jia Kui to compose an essay on the superiority of the Zuo zhuan over the Guliang zhuan and Gongyang zhuan. Jia Kui argued that the Zuo version was consistent with the Gongyang version “seven or eight parts out of ten.” He also claimed that only the Zuo zhuan agreed with the prognostication texts. Emperor Zhang was so pleased with Jia Kui’s work, he commanded him to choose twenty Gongyang specialists to receive instruction from Jia in the Zuo zhuan. In 79, Jia Kui participated in the discussion of the classics held in the White Tiger Hall. Ca. 82 Jia Kui completed three more works in which he compared the New Text and Old Text versions of the Shang shu, Zhou li, and Shi jing. Jia Kui was then appointed director of the guard, and his students began to occupy high position at the court. In 91 Jia Kui was assigned to the post of leader of court gentleman of the left. In 96, he became an assistant to the imperial secretary with charge of the commandant of cavalry. At this time the emperor ordered him to re-order the Cang Jie 倉頡, an old lexicon that provided instruction in the script. Jia Kui died in 101 at the age of seventy-two.

According to Jia Kui’s biography in the Hou Han shu he wrote over a million words of commentary and expositions on the classics. These works survived more or less intact until the Song. During the Qing period scholars attempted to collect the remains. His biography in the Hou Han shu also mentions that Jia Kui composed nine literary pieces in the genres of poetry, dirge, eulogy, letter, lianzhu, and jiu ling 酒令 (drinking bout instructions?). Two lines of a lianzhu written upon imperial command of Emperor Zhang are extant.

David R. Knechtges


  • Dull, Jack L. “A Historical Introduction to the Apocryphal (Ch’an-wei) Texts of the Han Dynasty.” Ph. D. diss., University of Washington, 1966, 354–63.

  • Ye Zhengxin 葉政欣. “Jia Kui yu Chunqiu Zuo zhuan” 賈逵與春秋左傳. Chenggong daxue xuebao 14 (1979): 1–21.

  • Cao Daoheng and Shen Yucheng, Zhongguo wenxuejia dacidian, 335–365.

  • Liao Junyu 廖俊裕. “Jia Kui zhi jingxue gaishu” 賈逵之經學概述. Yanjiu yu dongtai 6 (2002): 29–32.

  • Gao Jiyi 郜積意. “Handai jin guxue zhi zheng de zai renshi—yi Jia Kui yu Gong-yang zhi zheng wei li” 漢代今古學之爭的再認識以賈逵與公羊之爭為例. Zhongguo wenzhe yanjiu jikan 22 (2003): 223–57.

  • Qiu Juli 邱居里 and Huang Yi 黃益. “Jia Kui tiaozou bianxi” 賈逵條奏辨析. Xinyaluncong 8 (2006): 75–80.

  • Qiu Juli 邱居里. “Jia Kui yu shixue” 賈逵與史學. Shixue shi yanjiu 124 (2006): 70–72.

  • de Crespigny, Biographical Dictionary, 366–68.

Jia Kui” Brill’s Chinese Reference Shelf. Brill Online, 2018. Reference. . 16 Oct 2018 < >