Liu Ji
Minister of the Household (光祿勳)
In office
229 (229)–233 (233)
MonarchSun Quan
Grand Prefect of Agriculture (大農令)
In office
221 (221)–229 (229)
MonarchSun Quan
Personal details
Died233 (aged 48)[1]
ChildrenSun Ba's wife
FatherLiu Yao
Courtesy nameJingyu (敬輿)

Liu Ji (185–233), courtesy name Jingyu, was an official of the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was a descendant of the imperial clan of the Han dynasty and the eldest son of the minor warlord Liu Yao.[1]


Liu Ji was of noble descent. His ancestor was Liu Fei, the eldest son of the Han dynasty's founder, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao).[a] His father, Liu Yao, was a minor warlord who served as the Governor of Yang Province from 194 to 198.

When Liu Yao died in 198 in Yuzhang Commandery (豫章郡; around present-day Nanchang, Jiangxi),[2] Liu Ji, then 13 years old, presided over his father's funeral. He received many condolence gifts from those who attended the funeral but he declined all of them.[3] A year later, when the warlord Sun Ce passed by Yuzhang Commandery, he collected Liu Yao's remains, arranged a proper memorial service for Liu Yao, and treated Liu Yao's family kindly.[4] Wang Lang also advised Sun Ce to treat Liu Ji well: "[...] The eldest son of Zhengli (Liu Yao) has great ambition. I believe there is something extraordinary about him. [...] Wouldn't it be good to treat him with kindness?"[5]

Liu Ji grew up in poverty and hardship with his two younger brothers, Liu Shuo (劉鑠) and Liu Shang (劉尚).[6] The environment trained him to be sensible and empathetic. He often slept late and woke up early. Even his wife and concubine(s) hardly saw him. His brothers respected and feared him, and treated him like their father. He also refrained from having a wide social network, and rarely hosted guests at home.[7]

Liu Ji had a good-looking appearance. Sun Ce's younger brother and successor, Sun Quan, highly respected and favoured him. In 219,[8] when Sun Quan was appointed General of Agile Cavalry (驃騎將軍) by the Han imperial court, he recruited Liu Ji to serve as an Assistant in the East Bureau (東曹掾) and subsequently promoted him to Colonel Who Upholds Righteousness (輔義校尉) and Palace Gentleman Who Builds Loyalty (建忠中郎).[9]

In 221,[10] after Sun Quan received the nominal vassal title "King of Wu" (吳王) from the Wei emperor Cao Pi, he appointed Liu Ji as Grand Prefect of Agriculture (大農令). He threw a feast to celebrate with his subjects. During the feast, Yu Fan, an official under Sun Quan, showed disrespect towards his lord. When an enraged Sun Quan drew his sword and wanted to kill Yu Fan, Liu Ji stood up, grabbed Sun Quan and pleaded with him to spare Yu Fan. He told Sun Quan, "If Your Majesty kills a good man when you're drunk, even if Yu Fan is in the wrong, who would understand the truth? Your Majesty is famous and respected because you showed acceptance and tolerance towards virtuous and talented people over the years. Is it worth ruining your good reputation in just one day?" Sun Quan said, "If Cao Mengde can kill Kong Wenju, why can't I do the same to Yu Fan?" Liu Ji replied, "Mengde killed virtuous people recklessly, hence he didn't win over people's hearts. Your Majesty promotes moral values and righteousness, and wishes to be compared to Yao and Shun. Why are you comparing yourself to him?" Sun Quan then spared Yu Fan and instructed his men to ignore his orders in the future if he was not sober when he ordered someone to be executed.[11][12]

On one hot summer day, when Sun Quan was feasting on board a ship, a thunderstorm suddenly broke out. After his servants came to shelter him from the downpour, Sun Quan ordered them to do the same for Liu Ji too, but not any other subject. This incident showed how much Sun Quan favoured Liu Ji. Liu Ji later became the Prefect of the Gentlemen of the Palace (郎中令).[13]

In 229, after Sun Quan declared himself emperor and established the state of Eastern Wu,[14] he appointed Liu Ji as Minister of the Household (光祿勳; or Superintendent of the Imperial Court), in addition to giving him some duties of a Master of Writing (尚書).[15]

Liu Ji died in 233[1] at the age of 49 (by East Asian age reckoning).[16]

Liu Ji's daughter married Sun Ba, one of Sun Quan's sons. She lived in a first-class residence and received gifts from Sun Quan all year round. Sun Quan's treatment of her was equivalent to that of two of his other daughters-in-law – Quan Huijie (Sun Liang's wife) and Consort Zhang (Sun He's wife).[17]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d de Crespigny (2007), p. 519.
  2. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 62.
  3. ^ (繇長子基,字敬輿,年十四,居繇喪盡禮,故吏餽餉,皆無所受。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  4. ^ (後策西伐江夏,還過豫章,收載繇喪,善遇其家。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  5. ^ (王朗遺策書曰:「劉正禮昔初臨州, ... 正禮元子,致有志操,想必有以殊異。威盛刑行,施之以恩,不亦優哉!」) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  6. ^ (基二弟,鑠、尚, ...) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  7. ^ (吳書曰:基遭多難,嬰丁困苦,潛處味道,不以為戚。與羣弟居,常夜卧早起,妻妾希見其面。諸弟敬憚,事之猶父。不妄交游,門無雜賔。) Wu Shu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  8. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 68.
  9. ^ (姿容美好,孫權愛敬之。權為驃騎將軍,辟東曹掾,拜輔義校尉、建忠中郎。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  10. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 69.
  11. ^ (權旣為吳王,歡宴之末,自起行酒,翻伏地陽醉,不持。權去,翻起坐。權於是大怒,手劒欲擊之,侍坐者莫不惶遽,惟大司農劉基起抱權諫曰:「大王以三爵之後,手殺善士,雖翻有罪,天下孰知之?且大王以能容賢畜衆,故海內望風,今一朝棄之,可乎?」權曰:「曹孟德尚殺孔文舉,孤於虞翻何有哉?」基曰:「孟德輕害士人,天下非之。大王躬行德義,欲與堯、舜比隆,何得自喻於彼乎?」翻由是得免。權因勑左右,自今酒後言殺,皆不得殺。) Sanguozhi vol. 57.
  12. ^ (權為吳王,遷基大農。權嘗宴飲,騎都尉虞翻醉酒犯忤,權欲殺之,威怒甚盛,由基諫爭,翻以得免。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  13. ^ (權大暑時,嘗於舩中宴飲,於船樓上值雷雨,權以蓋自覆,又命覆基,餘人不得也。其見待如此。徙郎中令。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  14. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 71.
  15. ^ (權稱尊號,改為光祿勳,分平尚書事。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  16. ^ (年四十九卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.
  17. ^ (後權為子霸納基女,賜第一區,四時寵賜,與全、張比。) Sanguozhi vol. 49.