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Gu Shao

Gu Shao
Administrator of Yuzhang (豫章太守)
In office
? (?) – ? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Personal details
Bornc. 188[a]
Diedc. 218[2] (aged 30)[a]
  • Sun Ce's daughter
  • Lu Jun's daughter
  • Lu Ji (uncle)
  • Gu Yu (brother)
  • Gu Ji (brother)
  • see also Gu clan of Wu
MotherLu Kang's daughter
FatherGu Yong
Courtesy nameXiaoze (孝則)

Gu Shao (c. 188–218),[a] courtesy name Xiaoze, was an official serving under the warlord Sun Quan in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China.[2]

Family background

Gu Shao's ancestral home was in Wu County, Wu Commandery, which is present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu. He was the eldest son of Gu Yong,[3] who later became the second Imperial Chancellor of the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period.

The Gu clan, which he was from, was one of the four most influential clans in Wu Commandery and also in the Jiangdong region at the time.[b]

Early life

Gu Shao was well read in history and he took a keen interest in moral obligations between people.[2] In his youth, he was as famous as his maternal uncle Lu Ji, and was considered to be of higher calibre as compared to other scions of notable families in Wu Commandery, such as Lu Xun, Zhang Dun (張敦) and Bu Jing (卜靜).[4][c] Due to his fame and popularity, he attracted many visitors from throughout Wu Commandery and Yang Province who wanted to befriend him or build connections with him.[6]

Gu Shao married a daughter of Sun Ce, the elder brother and predecessor of Sun Quan, the warlord who ruled over the territories in the Jiangdong region in the late Eastern Han dynasty and later became the founding emperor of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period.[7] He probably also married a sister of Lu Xun and Lu Mao.[d]

Meeting with Pang Tong

When Zhou Yu died in 210,[9] Pang Tong came to Wu Commandery to attend his funeral. As Pang Tong was famous in Wu Commandery, many people came to see him when he was about to leave. During this time, he met and befriended Lu Ji, Gu Shao and Quan Cong, and appraised each of them in turn. Pang Tong described Lu Ji as "a horse that cannot run fast but has strong willpower", and Gu Shao as "an ox that is physically weak but capable of bearing burdens over great distances". Someone then asked Pang Tong: "Does that mean Lu Ji is better than Gu Shao?" Pang Tong replied: "Although a horse can run fast, it can only bear the weight of one person. An ox can travel 300 li a day; it can certainly bear more than just the weight of one person!" Gu Shao later asked Pang Tong: "You are also known for being a good judge of character. Between us, who do you think is the better one?" Pang Tong replied: "I am not as good as you in associating with people and assessing their characters. However, when it comes to politics and strategy, it seems that I am one day ahead of you." Gu Shao agreed with Pang Tong and developed a close bond with him. Before Pang Tong left, Lu Ji and Gu Shao told him: "When peace is restored in the Empire, we want to have a good discussion with you about famous people."[10][11]


Gu Shao started his career at the age of 26 after Sun Quan appointed him as the Administrator (太守) of Yuzhang Commandery (豫章郡; around present-day Nanchang, Jiangxi).[12] When he reached Yuzhang, he paid his respects at the tomb of the hermit scholar Xu Ruzi and treated Xu Ruzi's descendants well. He also banned unorthodox practices and customs. During his tenure, he identified talents among the junior staff in his administration and sent them for education, in addition to promoting his subordinates to higher positions for good performance. He also made extensive efforts to strengthen education and Confucian culture in Yuzhang Commandery.[13]

Among the various talents he identified and promoted, the more notable ones were Ding Xu (丁諝), Zhang Bing (張秉), Wu Can and Yin Li, all of whom came from humble and lowly backgrounds.[14] Gu Shao earned praise for his good judgment of character when these men later achieved success in their careers: Ding Xu became a high-ranking military officer; Zhang Bing and Yin Li became commandery administrators; Wu Can became a tutor to the crown prince.[15]

Gu Shao was also known for showing care and concern towards his friends and subordinates. When Zhang Bing's father or mother died, Gu Shao donned mourning garments and attended the funeral. On another occasion, when he was leaving Wu Commandery to assume office in Yuzhang Commandery, hundreds of people came to see him off. At the time, Zhang Bing was ill so he could not see Gu Shao off. Gu Shao told the people who came to see him off: "Zhang Bing is sick. He must be thinking that it's a pity that he can't bid me farewell. I will go to him instead. Please wait here for a while. I will be back soon."[16]

Gu Shao died in office after serving as the Administrator of Yuzhang Commandery for five years. He was survived by two sons: Gu Tan and Gu Cheng.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Gu Shao's biography in the Sanguozhi recorded that he was 27 (by East Asian age reckoning) when he was appointed as the Administrator of Yuzhang Commandery. He died after holding office for five years.[1] Rafe de Crespigny estimated that Gu Shao died in 218. Since Gu Shao was 30 when he died, by calculation he was born around 188.
  2. ^ The four great clans of Wu Commandery were the Gu (顧), Lu (陸), Zhu (朱) and Zhang (張) clans. The four great clans of the Jiangdong region were the Gu (顧), Lu (陸), Yu (虞) and Wei (魏) clans. Some notable members from each clan were: Gu Yong, Gu Shao and Gu Tan of the Gu clan; Lu Xun, Lu Ji and Lu Kai of the Lu clan; Zhu Huan and Zhu Ju of the Zhu clan; Zhang Wen of the Zhang clan; Yu Fan of the Yu clan; and Wei Teng (魏騰) of the Wei clan.
  3. ^ Zhang Dun, whose courtesy name was Shufang (叔方), was known for his oratorical talent and virtuous character. He served under Sun Quan as an assistant official and registrar before rising to the position of Prefect of Haihun County (海昏縣; in present-day Nanchang, Jiangxi). He died at the age of 31. Bu Jing, whose courtesy name was Xuanfeng (玄風), served as the Prefect of Shan County (剡縣; present-day Shengzhou, Zhejiang).[5]
  4. ^ The Sanguozhi recorded that Gu Shao's younger son Gu Cheng was a maternal nephew of Lu Mao.[8] This means that Gu Shao probably also married a sister of Lu Mao and Lu Xun.


  1. ^ (年二十七,起家為豫章太守。 ... 在郡五年,卒官, ...) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  2. ^ a b c de Crespigny (2007), p. 274.
  3. ^ (顧雍字元歎,吳郡吳人也。 ... 長子邵早卒, ...) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  4. ^ ([顧]邵字孝則,博覽書傳,好樂人倫。少與舅陸績齊名,而陸遜、張敦、卜靜等皆亞焉。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  5. ^ (吳錄曰:敦字叔方,靜字玄風,並吳郡人。敦德量淵懿,清虛淡泊,又善文辭。孫權為車騎將軍,辟西曹掾,轉主簿,出補海昏令,甚有惠化,年三十二卒。卜靜終於剡令。) Wu Lu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  6. ^ (自州郡庶幾及四方人士,往來相見,或言議而去,或結厚而別,風聲流聞,遠近稱之。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  7. ^ (權妻以策女。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  8. ^ ([顧]承字子直,嘉禾中與舅陸瑁俱以禮徵。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  9. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 66.
  10. ^ ([周]瑜卒,統送喪至吳,吳人多聞其名。及當西還,並會昌門,陸績、顧劭、全琮皆往。統曰:「陸子可謂駑馬有逸足之力,顧子可謂駑牛能負重致遠也。」 ... 績、劭謂統曰:「使天下太平,當與卿共料四海之士。」深與統相結而還。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  11. ^ (張勃吳錄曰:或問統曰:「如所目,陸子為勝乎?」統曰:「駑馬雖精,所致一人耳。駑牛一日行三百里,所致豈一人之重哉!」劭就統宿,語,因問:「卿名知人,吾與卿孰愈?」統曰:「陶冶世俗,甄綜人物,吾不及卿;論帝王之秘策,攬倚伏之要最,吾似有一日之長。」劭安其言而親之。) Wu Lu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  12. ^ (年二十七,起家為豫章太守。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  13. ^ (下車祀先賢徐孺子之墓,優待其後;禁其淫祀非禮之祭者。小吏資質佳者,輒令就學,擇其先進,擢置右職,舉善以教,風化大行。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  14. ^ (初,錢唐丁諝出於役伍,陽羨張秉生於庶民,烏程吳粲、雲陽殷禮起乎微賤,邵皆拔而友之,為立聲譽。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  15. ^ (諝至典軍中郎,秉雲陽太守,禮零陵太守,粲太子少傅。世以邵為知人。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  16. ^ (秉遭大喪,親為制服結絰。邵當之豫章,發在近路,值秉疾病,時送者百數,邵辭賔客曰:「張仲節有疾,苦不能來別,恨不見之,暫還與訣,諸君少時相待。」其留心下士,惟善所在,皆此類也。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  17. ^ (在郡五年,卒官,子譚、承云。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.
  • Chen, Shou (3rd century). Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004156050.
  • Pei, Songzhi (5th century). Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).
  • Sima, Guang (1084). Zizhi Tongjian.