Gu Yanwu

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Gu Yanwu
Gu yanwu.jpg
Born Gu Jiang 顧绛
(1613-07-15)15 July 1613
Died 15 February 1682(1682-02-15) (aged 68)
Other names Gu Zhongqing 顧忠清
Gu Ningren 顧寧人
Lord Tinglin 亭林先生
Occupation Student of the Guozijian (1643)
Known for One of the Five Great Qing scholars (Huang Zongxi, Fang Yizhi, Wang Fuzhi, Zhu Zhiyu)
Spouse(s) Lady Zhu
Parent(s) Gu Tongying (father)
Lady He (mother)
Relatives Great grandfather: Gu Zhangzhi
Nephew: Xu Qianxue, Xu Bingyi, Xu Yuanwen
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 顧炎武
Simplified Chinese 顾炎武

Gu Yanwu (Chinese: 顧炎武) (July 15, 1613 – February 15, 1682), also known as Gu Tinglin (Chinese: 顧亭林), was a Chinese philologist and geographer. He spent his youth during the Manchu conquest of China in anti-Manchu activities after the Ming Dynasty had been overthrown. He never served the Qing Dynasty. Instead, he traveled throughout the country and devoted himself to studies.


File:Statue of Gu Yanwu in Tinglin Park, Kunshan.jpg
Statue of Gu Yanwu in Tinglin Park, Kunshan

Gu, a native of Jiangsu, was born as Gu Jiang (simplified Chinese: 顾绛; traditional Chinese: 顧絳; pinyin: Gù Jiàng). Gu began his schooling at the age of 14. In the spring of 1645, Gu was recommended to be the position of Bingbu Siwu in the royal court at Nanjing. There he proposed many ideas. Unsatisfied with the royal court's organisation, Gu resigned and returned to his hometown. In 1655, local officials laid charges against him and threw him into prison. He was released from prison with the help of a friend.

Inspired by Chen Di, who had demonstrated that the Old Chinese has its own phonological system, Gu divided the words of Old Chinese into 10 rhyme groups, the first one to do so. His positivist approach to a variety of disciplines, and his criticism of Neo-Confucianism had a huge influence on later scholars. His works include Yinxue Wushu (音學五書), Ri Zhi Lu (日知錄) and Zhao Yu Zhi (肇域志).

Along with Wang Fuzhi and Huang Zongxi, Gu was named as one of the most outstanding Confucian scholars of the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty.[1]

In 1682, while returning from a friend's home to Huaying, Gu fell from horseback and died the next day.[2]


"Everybody is responsible for the fate of the world" (Chinese: 天下兴亡,匹夫有责; pinyin: tiān xià xīng wáng, pǐ fū yǒu zé)

Alternatively, The rise and fall of the nation concerns everyone; or Everyone bears responsibility for the prosperity of society.


Gu is commemorated by Tinglin Park[3] and the Gu Yanwu Museum in Tinglin Park of Kunshan. In 2005, the Central Propaganda Department of China named the Gu Yanwu Museum located at Gu's former residence in Qiandeng town as a "national patriotism education base".[4]

Former residence of Gu Yanwu

The former residence of Gu Yanwu is located in Qiandeng town of Kunshan, a Ming dynasty complex with main hall, living quarter, a study and a garden. Gu Yanwu's grave is located in a quiet corner of the garden.

Former residence of Gu Yanwu in Qiandeng town of Kunshan city
Grave of Gu Yanwu


  1. 顾炎武. Guoxue (in 中文). Beijing Culture Communication Company [北京国学时代文化传播]. Retrieved 2011-10-10. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 顾炎武:天下兴亡,匹夫有责_网易新闻中心. 163 (in 中文). 2006-12-29. Retrieved 2011-10-10. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 历史悠久的亭林公园. News Kunshan (in 中文). China Telecom. 2010-10-10. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "江苏省爱国主义教育示范基地". Xinhuanet. Xinhua. 2004-10-14. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 何九盈 [He Jiuying] (1995). 中囯古代语言学史 (in 中文). Guangzhou: Guangdong jiaoyu chubanshe. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

Gu Yanwu: Translations of Letters, Poems and Essays Cordite Poetry Review

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External links