Liu An

Líu Ān (zh-c|c=劉安, 179 - 122 BC) was a Chinese prince and advisor to his nephew Emperor Wu of Han (武帝) of Han Dynasty in China and the legendary inventor of tai chi. With his book, the "Huainanzi", he was responsible for further advancement in the studies of cartography and geography in ancient China.

Life

Noted for his literary ability, Liu An was reputed to be able to compose an elaborate prose after he woke up and before finishing breakfast. He was a grandson of the founding Han Dynasty (漢朝) emperor Liu Bang (劉邦), he became the King of Huainan (literally "south of the Huai River"), at the age of 16 after his father, Liu Chang (劉長) died. In a fate similar to his father, he committed suicide after a failed coup attempt.

In addition to composing literary pieces himself, Liu An also frequently invited other scholars as guests to his estate. Eight scholars in particular became known as the Eight Immortals of Huainan (淮南八仙). Together, these scholars and Liu An published a treatise in 139 B.C.E. known as the "Huainanzi" (淮南子), translated as "Book of the Master of Huainan", or the "Huainan Philosophers". This book is considered one of the cornerstones of Daoist philosophy, along with the works of Laozi and Zhuangzi. Along with the earlier "Shu Jing" ("Classic of History") of the 5th century BC (Warring States era), this book provided further concrete information on geography, including descriptions of the topography of China. His book was also concerned with mathematics and music, making use of the Pythagorean comma and listing the first known Chinese 12 musical tone tuning.

Legend of inventing Soy Milk

In a Chinese legend, he has been credited as the inventor of Soy milk and Bean curd, both of which are soybean products. This legend however has no historical basis.

According to the legend, soy milk was developed by Liu An who made it for his mother who was old and ill but want to taste soybean which her teeth would not be able to chew. Liu An was very troubled by that and the idea of grinding the soybean was actually suggested by his mother, although there is no historical evidence for this legend. In Bencao Gangmu, where Li was attributed to the development of bean curd with no mention of soy milk being invented by anyone, the story was also told by another Ming dynasty writer, Li Yi (李翊). [戒庵老人漫筆「豆腐起於淮南王劉安之術。」] although earlier 10th century writing, the song of bean curd (豆腐詩), already mentioned the method of Huainan in Song dynasty by Zhu Xi [「種豆豆苗稀,力竭心已腐,早知淮南術,安坐獲泉布。」 Planting soybeans but the harvest was little, the body is tired and the mind is rotted, if the method of Huainan was known earlier (by me), (I) would be able to get a lot with just relaxly sitting there.] It is also mentioned in a book which mentioned bean curd was called Lai Ki in Han dynasty, and the word appeared in an early Song dynasty writing.《行神研究》引 《綺翁憶梅庵雜記》記豆腐業淮南王劉安云:「 相傳農曆九月十五日,為淮南王劉安誕辰,內地豆腐業者均於本日舉行之公祭,祭畢聚餐。」劉安為西漢人,具辯才,善屬文,好讀書鼓琴,天下方術之士多歸之,在其在發明豆腐時,蜀人名曰「黎祈」,故陸游詩有「洗釜煮黎祈」句,惟何時名為豆腐,則不可考。] While other Chinese sources was found to discredit the Liu An invention theory, stating Liu An lived with a lot of vegetarian monks and the method was taught by them, or it is the Chinese daoists that was recruited by him used alchemy methods and made both soy milk and bean curd in a more alchemical method as medicines of eternal life, and Liu An is only the powerful noble at that time where he can order the mass-production of such items and spread it around thus making him famous for soy milk and bean curd. [《中國行業神》, 李喬] Yet most soy bean related work place still places Liu An as the god of bean curd and worship him as the inventor of both soy milk and bean curd. [《中國民間神像》, 宋兆麟]

A different tradition could be found in 《金華地方風俗志》 and 《中國風俗故事集》mentioning soy milk and bean curd was made before the Han dynasty and dated it all the way back to the warring states period by the Yan general Yue Yi, [樂毅因父母年老嚼不動黃豆,樂毅就把黃豆磨成豆漿,把鹽鹵灑進豆漿,結果成了豆腐。又說醫生開了石膏,樂毅把石膏放進豆漿,結果做出的豆腐比放鹽鹵更好。] Yet these two books are rather recent and the quote in it was only a legend told to bean curd makers by speech without written record.

See also

* List of geographers
* List of Chinese people
* List of Chinese writers

References

* Needham, Joseph (1986). "Science and Civilization in China: Volume 3". Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.

External links

* [http://www.stanford.edu/~pregadio/taoism/texts_huainan_zi.html The Huainan Zi text of Liu An]


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