Top 10 Ancient Chinese Scholars

In ancient China there are lots of gifted talents who made great contributions to Chinese civilization. Li Bai, Cao Xueqin, Dufu and so on, all these scholars occupied an important position in Chinese history. Here is a list of top 10 most famous Chinese scholars:

1.Su Shi (苏轼)

Su Shi (1037 – 1101) was better known as one of the main poets during the Song dynasty. He grasped almost all literary forms, including poems, the song ci, essays, calligraphy and painting. His poems enjoyed long time popularity in China and nearby counties such as Japan and Korea. He also had a dike built along the West Lake while he was in Hangzhou and today it became a famous tourist attration and must-see when travel to the city.

2. Li Bai (李白)

Tang dynasty is considered as the golden age of Chinese poetry, while Li Bai is the poet of poets. Li Bai (701 – 762) was widely regarded as the greatest and most talented poet in Chinese history. Today about 1,100 of his poems can be found.

3. Cao Xueqin (曹雪芹)

Cao Xueqin (1715-1763) was an excellent author in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). His romance novel A Dream of Red Mansions was composed in the second half of the 18th century, the novel is considered  not only a great Chinese novel but also a masterpiece of the world literature. The work is regarded as one of “the Great Four Works”, together with “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, “Pilgrim to the West” and “Outlaws of the Marsh”.

4. Qu Yuan (屈原)

Qu Yuan (343–278 BCE) was a great Chinese poet as well as a minister of Kingdom Chu during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). He is known for his contributions to classical poetry and verses, especially through the poems of the Chu Ci anthology, which is considered as one of the two great collections of ancient Chinese verse, along with the Shi Jing. Today the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated every year to memorize Qu Yuan for his  patriotism.

5. Xu Wei (徐渭)

Xu Wei (1521—1593) was a Chinese painter, poet and dramatist in the Ming Dynasty. His painting style influenced a great number of the following painters, such as Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi. Xu Wei can be viewed as as the founder of modern painting in China.

6. Li Zhi (李贽)

Li Zhi (1527–1602) was a well-known philosopher, historian and writer in the Ming dynasty. His philosophy mainly criticized Neo-Confucianism and acknowledged selfish desire and product of commodity exchange relation。 He was arrested for his work to propagate “dangerous ideas” and finally committed suicide in prison in 1602.

7. Sima Qian (司马迁)

Sima Qian (CA.145–86 BC) was considered the greatest Chinese historian. He is most known for his historian work the “Historical Records, which is considered as most important history of China down to the end of the 2nd century.

8. Du Fu (杜甫)

Du Fu (712 – 770 ) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. He had great ambition to serve the country, but finally proved to be fail. His works had great influence on Chinese and Japanese literarature.About 1,500 of him poems came down the ages. He was usually called the “Poet-Sage” by Chinese critics.

9. Tang Xianzu (汤显祖)
Tang Xianzu (1550–1616),was a prominent dramatist of the Ming Dynasty.He had an important position in the literary history and is acknowledged as “Shakespeare of the East”. His four representative works are called “Linchuan Four Dreams”, of which, “The Peony Pavilion is the most well-known one.

10. Cao Zhi (曹植)

Cao Zhi (192–232) was a Chinese poet in late Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms period.He was the third son of Cao Cao. His poetry style was known as the Jian’an style. His remaining poems exceed that of the other authors of the time in both amount and quality.

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