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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Was Li Po indeed a Member of the Lung-Hsi Li Clan?

Vol. 18 No. 2   12/1988   


Was Li Po indeed a Member of the Lung-Hsi Li Clan?


Feng-yu Shih 









Key words



     For centuries the ancestry of Li Po has remained controversial. The purpose of this article is to investigate one of the most complicated points about that ancestry, namely, whether Li Po indeed came from the illustrious Lung-Hsi Li clan and was ninth-generation descendant of the clan’s founder Li Kao. 

    In order to smoothly explain the relationship between Li Po and the Lung-Hsi Li clan, I first describe the history of the clan and the way the Li’s in the T’ang times (including the T’ang imperial house) falsely claimed the clan’s membership. Based on this description, I am able to point our that there are two strong signs which show that Li Po was not from the Lung-Hsi Li Clan. Firstly, Li Po obviously did not own any valid pedigree which one needed in T’ang times to seriously claim his membership in a famous clan. Secondly, when he associated with members of the Lung-Hsi Li Clan 

and the imperial house, Li Po never maintained any definite generation relationship with them. As to the two most important sources which claim Li Po to be from the Lung-Hsi Li Clan, namely, Li Yang-ping’s preface to Li Po’s collected works and Fan Ch’uan-cheng’s tomb inscription for Li Po, we have reasons to believe that they are reliable. The foundation of Fan’s words seems to be merely Li Yang-ping’s preface, and that of Li Yang-ping’s preface seems to be Li Po himself. As to Li Po himself, he did not cling to the version of his ancestry as is presented by Fan Ch’uan-cheng and 

Li Yang-ping. Judging from the fact that Li Po did not seem to have any close relatives of high position and prestige, the poet is more likely to have come from a mediocre or even humble clan.



Author: Feng-yu Shih
Genre: Article
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