Bai Hu Tong - 白虎通

Bai Hu Tong is a confucian text from Eastern Han 79-92 by Ban Gu 班固. Ban Gu was commissioned by the emperor Zhang of Han to compile a collection of the court intellectual debates from the White Tiger conference which drew the leading confucian intellectuals of the eastern Han empire to discuss philosophy, cosmology and politics.

These discussions were a process by which standards for confucianism where set. The conference inspired a policy change to adopt the new text classics as the official versions and the inclusion of apocryphal texts as interpretive sources. This gave the Five Phases and Yin Yang theory the stable basis for government, and science.

Baihutong is seen as a clear example of Han period thought.

Alternate names: Baihutong delun 白虎通德論 "Virtuous discussions held in the White Tiger [Hall]", Baihu tongyi 白虎通義 "Comprehensive meanings [as discussed] in the White Tiger [Hall]".

  • 爵 Jue - Ranks
  • 號 Hao - Titles
  • 謚 Shi - Posthumous titles
  • 五祀 Wusi - The Five offerings
  • 禮稷 Liji - Ritual and offerings to the Lord of Millet
  • 禮樂 Liyue - Ritual and music
  • 封公侯 Feng Gonghou - Enfeoffment
  • 京師 Jingshi - The Capital
  • 五行 Wuxing - The Five Phases
  • 三軍 Sanjun - The three hosts
  • 誅伐 Zhufa - Execution and punitive expeditions
  • 諫諍 Jianzheng - Admonishing and remonstrating the ruler
  • 鄉射 Xiangshe - The district archery contest
  • 致仕 Zhishi - Retiring from office
  • 辟雍 Biyong - The Central Academy
  • 災變 Zaibian - Natural disasters
  • 耕桑 Gengsang - Tilling and weaving
  • 封禪 Fengshan - The fengshan offerings to Heaven and Earth
  • 巡狩 Xunshou - Imperial inspection tours
  • 考黜 Kaochu - Examination and degradation
  • 王者不臣 Wangzhe Bu Chen - Whom the king does not consider his subjects
  • 蓍龜 Shigui - Divining by milfoil and tortoise bones
  • 聖人 Shengren - Sages
  • 八風 Bafeng - The eight winds
  • 商賈 Shangjia - Merchants and vendors
  • 文質 Wenzhi - Ritual rresents
  • 三正 Sanzheng - The three rectifications
  • 三教 Sanjiao - The three instructions
  • 三綱六紀 Sangang Liuji - The three major and six minor principles
  • 情性 Qingxing - Temperament and character
  • 壽命 Shouming - Life and Heavenly Mandate
  • 宗族 Zongzu - Ancestors and kinship
  • 姓名 Xingming - Names and surnames
  • 天地 Tiandi - Heaven and Earth
  • 日月 Riyue - Sun and moon
  • 四時 Sishi - The four seasons
  • 衣裳 Yichang - Clothes and bobes
  • 五刑 Wuxing - The five punishments
  • 五經 Wujing - The Five Classical Writings
  • 嫁娶 Jiaqu - Wedding and nuptial customs
  • 紼冕 Fumian - Cords and caps
  • 喪衣 Sangyi - Mourning garments
  • 崩薨 Benghong - Dead and burial of the emperor and the feud
Suggested Translation

Tjan, Tjoe Som (Tseng Chu-sen). Po Hu T’ung, The Comprehensive Discussions in the White Tiger Hall. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1949 & 1952.

the author

Ban gu 班固, 1st century A.D (32-92 A.D.)
Alternate names: Pan Ku (Wade-Giles), Meng Jian.
Ban gu was a historian and a poet, and was most famous for compiling the Book of Han.

further readings on the author

Clark, Anthony E., Ban Gu's History of Early China, Amherst: Cambria Press, 2008).

Van der Sprenkel, O. B. Pan Piao, Pan Ku, and the Han History, Centre for Oriental Studies Occasional Paper, no. 3. Canberra: Australian National University, 1964.

online resources

For the Original Chinese text

Chinese Text Project ›

Other Resources

China Knowledge offers a description of the original text along with some original text with English translation : ›