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Fu Xuan
Died278 (aged 61)
Other namesXiuyi (休奕)
Occupation(s)Historian, poet, politician
ChildrenFu Xian
  • Fu Gan (father)
RelativesFu Xie (grandfather)

Fu Xuan (217–278), courtesy name Xiuyi, was a Chinese historian, poet, and politician who lived in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period and later under the Jin dynasty. He was one of the most prolific authors of fu poetry of his time. He was a grandson of Fu Xie (傅燮), a son of Fu Gan (傅幹), and the father of Fu Xian (傅咸).[1][2][3]


Although he lost his father early and grew up poor, Fu Xuan eventually became famous in literature and music. Nominated as a civil service candidate by the local provincial government, he was appointed as a Gentleman (郎中) and put in charge of managing the compilation of the historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms (三國志). Later, he became a subordinate of Sima Zhao, the regent of Wei from 255 to 265. He rose through the ranks to become the Administrator (太守) of Hongnong Commandery (弘農郡) and Colonel of Agriculture (典農校尉). In 265, after Sima Yan usurped the Wei throne and established the Jin dynasty (266–420) with himself as the new emperor, he appointed Fu Xuan as a Regular Mounted Attendant (散騎常侍) and awarded him the title of a Viscount (子爵). Later, Fu Xuan was reassigned to be a Commandant of Escorting Cavalry (駙馬都尉).

Fu Xuan was recommended to the position of Palace Attendant (侍中), but was dismissed from consideration after a falling-out. In 268, he became Palace Assistant Imperial Clerk (御史中丞), and in 259 Minister Coachman (太僕). He authored a memorial to suggest ways of preparing for floods and external invasions. He later served as the Colonel-Director of Retainers (司隷校尉). He was of such an impatient disposition that whenever he had any memorial or impeachment to submit, he would proceed at once to the palace, no matter what the hour of the day or night, and sit there until he had audience the following dawn. It was while thus waiting that he caught a chill from which he subsequently died.[4]

Fu Xuan also once wrote an essay praising the Chinese mechanical engineers Ma Jun and Zhang Heng, where he lamented the fact that extraordinary talents of natural geniuses were often ignored or neglected by those in charge.


According to his biography in the Book of Jin, Fu Xuan wrote over a hundred volumes of the Wen Ji (文集), the Fu Zi (傅子), and over 120 texts, of which only a small fraction survived to this day. The Fu Zi, for example, survives only in the form of annotations added by Pei Songzhi in the fifth century to the third-century text Records of the Three Kingdoms. Fu Xuan expressed in his writings a critical view of a number of his contemporaries, including both supporters and enemies of Sima Zhao.


Fu Xuan's poems, primarily in the yuefu style, are noted for their powerful and empathetic portrayals of women. Translations of several of his sixty-odd surviving poems can be found in the book New Songs from a Jade Terrace by Anne Birrell (ISBN 0-04-895026-2).

One of the more famous poems by Fu Xuan is "Woman":

How sad it is to be a woman!!
Nothing on earth is held so cheap.
Boys stand leaning at the door
Like Gods fallen out of Heaven.
Their hearts brave the Four Oceans,
The wind and dust of a thousand miles.
No one is glad when a girl is born:
By her the family sets no store.
When she grows up, she hides in her room
Afraid to look at a man in the face.
No one cries when she leaves her home—Sudden as clouds when the rain stops.
She bows her head and composes her face,
Her teeth are pressed on her red lips:
She bows and kneels countless times.
She must humble herself even to the servants.
His love is distant as the stars in Heaven,
Yet the sunflower bends towards the sun.
Their hearts are more sundered than water and fire—A hundred evils are heaped upon her.
Her face will follow the years changes:
Her lord will find new pleasures.
They that were once like the substance and shadow
Are now as far from Hu as from Ch'in [two distant places]
Yet Hu and Ch'in shall sooner meet
That they whose parting is like Ts'an and Ch'en [two stars]

See also


  1. ^ Matsuura et al. (1999), p. 36.
  2. ^ Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten article "Fu Xuan" (Fu Gen in Japanese). Shogakukan.
  3. ^ Kanjigen entry "Fu Xuan" (Fu Gen in Japanese). Gakken 2006.
  4. ^ Giles (1898), p. 240.