Han Ji (died 10 April 238),[a] courtesy name Gongzhi, was a government official who served in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He previously served under the warlords Liu Biao and Cao Cao during the late Eastern Han dynasty.[2]

Han Ji
Minister over the Masses (司徒)
In office
12 February (12 February) – 10 April 238 (10 April 238)
MonarchCao Rui
Palace Counsellor (太中大夫)
In office
234 (234) – 12 February 238 (12 February 238)
MonarchCao Rui
Minister of Ceremonies (太常)
In office
226 (226)–234 (234)
MonarchCao Pi / Cao Rui
Commandant for Metals (司金都尉)
In office
? (?)–226 (226)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han (until 220)
/ Cao Pi (from 220)
ChancellorCao Cao (until 220)
Internuncio (謁者)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
ChancellorCao Cao
Administrator of Laoling (樂陵太守)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
ChancellorCao Cao
Personal details
Fangcheng County, Henan
Died(238-04-10)10 April 238[a]
  • Han Zhao
  • Han Yao
FatherHan Chun
  • Han Xin (ancestor)
  • Han Shu (grandfather)
Courtesy nameGongzhi (公至)
Posthumous nameMarquis Gong (恭侯)
PeerageMarquis of Nanxiang Village (南鄉亭侯)

Early lifeEdit

Han Ji was from Duyang County (堵陽縣), Nanyang Commandery (南陽郡), which is present-day Fangcheng County, Henan.[3] His ancestor was Han Xin (a.k.a. King Xin of Han),[4] one of the rulers of the Eighteen Kingdoms in the transition from the Qin dynasty to the Western Han dynasty. His grandfather Han Shu (韓術) and father Han Chun (韓純) served as the Administrators (太守) of Hedong Commandery (河東郡; around present-day Yuncheng, Shanxi) and Nan Commandery (南郡; around present-day Jingzhou, Hubei) respectively in the Eastern Han dynasty.[5]

When Han Ji was still young, Chen Mao (陳茂), a wealthy and influential man also from Duyang County, framed his father and elder brother(s) for committing capital offences. Han Ji's father and brother(s) were arrested and executed as a result.[6] Han Ji remained silent over the injustice suffered by his family while secretly plotting to take revenge against Chen Mao. He found employment, saved up his earnings, and used the money to hire assassins to assist him in taking revenge. They tracked down Chen Mao, killed him, cut off his head and placed it as an offering at the tomb of Han Ji's father.[7] Han Ji became famous after this incident.[8]

Han Ji was later nominated as a xiaolian (civil service candidate) and offered a job in the office of the Minister of Works, but he rejected the offer. When chaos broke out throughout China in the 180s,[9] he adopted a fake identity and went to live in the countryside of Luyang County (魯陽縣; present-day Lushan County, Henan).[10] During this time, when he heard that the villagers were planning to become bandits because life was getting too hard for them, he used his personal wealth to host a feast for the village leaders and managed to convince them to abandon their plan to become bandits.[11][7]

Sometime between 189 and 192,[12] when the warlord Yuan Shu controlled Nanyang Commandery, he heard of Han Ji and summoned Han Ji to serve under him. Han Ji refused and went into hiding in the hills near Shandu County (山都縣; northwest of present-day Xiangyang, Hubei) to avoid Yuan Shu.[13] When Liu Biao, the Governor of Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) tried to recruit him as a subordinate, Han Ji fled further south to Chanling County (孱陵縣; west of present-day Gong'an County, Hubei) to evade Liu Biao. He soon became a popular and respected figure among the locals; Liu Biao was very resentful when he heard about it. Han Ji, fearing that Liu Biao would retaliate against him, reluctantly agreed to serve under Liu Biao, who appointed him as the Chief () of Yicheng County (宜城縣; in present-day Xiangyang, Hubei).[14]

Service under Cao CaoEdit

Following Liu Biao's death in 208, his younger son and successor Liu Cong surrendered and relinquished his governorship of Jing Province to the warlord Cao Cao, who controlled the figurehead Emperor Xian and Han central government.[15] Cao Cao recruited Han Ji to serve in the office of the Imperial Chancellor (丞相), the position he held, and later promoted him to serve as the Administrator (太守) of Laoling Commandery (樂陵郡; around present-day Yangxin County, Shandong).[16]

Han Ji was subsequently reassigned to be an Internuncio (謁者) in charge of the cast iron industry.[17] In older times, the bellows of every blast furnace was operated by 100 draught horses. Later, the industry switched to using manual labour. When Han Ji took charge of the industry, he saw that manual labour was too inefficient and required too much manpower. He then introduced the use of hydraulic power to operate the bellows, a method devised by Du Shi in the early Eastern Han dynasty.[2] After the changes, the amount of cast iron produced by the industry increased by three times as compared to before.[18] Han Ji supervised the cast iron industry for seven years and performed well in office as the production levels of cast iron remained high, thus ensuring that Cao Cao's army had a steady supply of weapons and equipment. The Han imperial court issued an edict to praise Han Ji for his excellent performance and promote him to the position of Commandant for Metals (司金都尉), placing him just below the Nine Ministers in the Han bureaucratic hierarchy.[19][20]

Service in WeiEdit

In late 220,[21] Cao Cao's son and successor, Cao Pi, usurped the throne from Emperor Xian, ended the Eastern Han dynasty, and established the state of Cao Wei with himself as the new emperor. After his coronation, Cao Pi enfeoffed Han Ji as the Marquis of Yicheng Village (宜城亭侯).[22][20]

In 226, Cao Pi promoted Han Ji to the position of Minister of Ceremonies (太常), changed his peerage from "Marquis of Yicheng Village" to "Marquis of Nanxiang Village" (南鄉亭侯) and awarded him a marquisate of 200 taxable households.[23]

Around the time, as Cao Pi had only recently designated Luoyang as the imperial capital of Wei, there were many imperial ceremonies, customs, rituals and protocol-related matters which had yet to be finalised. Besides, the ancestral temple of the Cao family was still in Ye (in present-day Handan, Hebei), the capital of the former vassal Kingdom of Wei during the Eastern Han dynasty. After assuming office as Minister of Ceremonies, Han Ji wrote a memorial urging the central government to construct a new ancestral temple in Luoyang and relocate the ancestral tablets from Ye to Luoyang, so that the emperor and his subjects could properly pay respects to their ancestors. Throughout his eight-year-long tenure as Minister of Ceremonies, Han Ji came up with a new set of ceremonies, customs, rituals and protocol for the Cao Wei state, and abolished old practices from the Han dynasty which were no longer relevant. He retired in 234 due to poor health[24][20] and was given an honorary position as a Palace Counsellor (太中大夫).

On 12 February 238,[b] during the reign of Cao Pi's successor Cao Rui,[26] the imperial court issued an edict which read: "Palace Counsellor Han Ji has bathed himself in virtue and conducted himself with integrity and honesty. Although he is already over 80 years old, he still commits himself firmly to upholding righteousness and moral principles. This is what it means to become more principled and more faithful as one grows older. He is hereby conferred the appointment of Minister over the Masses."[27][20]


Han Ji died on 10 April 238.[a] Before his death, he said that he wanted to have a simple funeral: to be dressed in the clothes he normally wore when he was still alive; to be a simple grave with nothing but soil covering his coffin; to be buried with simple funeral artefacts made of earthenware.[28] He also wrote a memorial to the imperial court to convey his wishes for a simple funeral, even though he knew that according to custom he would be accorded a more elaborate funeral because of his ministerial appointment.[29] After reading Han Ji's memorial, Cao Rui praised him for his humility and gave an order for Han Ji to be given the simple funeral in accordance with his final wishes.[30] He also awarded Han Ji a set of funeral artefacts, a set of court robes, and a ceremonial sword made of jade,[31] in addition to honouring him with the posthumous title "Marquis Gong" (恭侯).[32]


Han Ji's first son, Han Zhao (韓肇), inherited his father's peerage and became the next Marquis of Nanxiang Village (南鄉亭侯). When he died, the peerage was passed on to his son, Han Bang (韓邦),[33] whose courtesy name was Changlin (長林). Han Bang was known for being studious and talented since young. During the reign of Emperor Wu in the Jin dynasty, Han Bang served as the Prefect () of Yewang County (野王縣; present-day Qinyang, Henan). After showing good performance in office, he was promoted to be the Administrator (太守) of Xincheng Commandery (新城郡; around present-day Fang County, Hubei). However, he was executed by Emperor Wu after the emperor learnt that he abused his authority by illegally helping his former subordinates from Yewang County get promoted to higher positions in Xincheng Commandery.[34]

Han Ji's second son, Han Yao (韓繇), served as the Administrator of Gaoyang Commandery (高陽郡; around present-day Gaoyang County, Hebei). Han Yao's son, Han Hong (韓洪), served in the Imperial Censorate. Han Hong's son, Han Shou (韓壽), had the courtesy name Dezhen (德貞).[35]

Like his great-grandfather Han Ji, Han Shou was known for conducting himself with virtue and integrity. He was appointed as a Regular Mounted Attendant (散騎常侍) after Emperor Hui of the Jin dynasty came to the throne, and was subsequently promoted to the position of Intendant of Henan (河南尹). After he died of illness, the Jin government posthumously awarded him the appointment of General of Agile Cavalry (驃騎將軍).[36] Han Shou married one of Jia Chong's daughters and had a son, Han Mi (韓謐), with her. As Jia Chong died without any sons to succeed him, his peerage was passed on to Han Mi, his maternal grandson. Han Mi was appointed as a Palace Attendant (侍中) by the Jin government as soon as he reached adulthood, and was known for being arrogant but more talented than his father Han Shou.[37]

Han Shou had another son, Han Wei (韓蔚), who also had quite a reputation in the Jin government. Han Wei was executed by the prince Sima Lun, probably during the War of the Eight Princes. With Han Wei's death, Han Ji's family line came to an end.[38]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c The Sanguozhi recorded that Han Ji died on the gengzi day of the 4th month of the 2nd year in the Jingchu era of Cao Rui's reign.[1] This date corresponds to 10 April 238 in the Gregorian calendar.
  2. ^ The Sanguozhi recorded that Han Ji was appointed Minister over the Masses on the guimao day of the 2nd month of the 2nd year of the Jingchu era in Cao Rui's reign.[25] This date corresponds to 12 February 238 in the Gregorian calendar.


  1. ^ ([景初二年]夏四月庚子,司徒韓曁薨。) Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  2. ^ a b de Crespigny (2007), pp. 297-298.
  3. ^ (韓曁字公至,南陽堵陽人也。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  4. ^ (楚國先賢傳曰:曁,韓王信之後。) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  5. ^ (祖術,河東太守。父純,南郡太守。) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  6. ^ (同縣豪右陳茂,譖曁父兄,幾至大辟。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  7. ^ a b de Crespigny (2007), p. 297.
  8. ^ (曁陽不以為言,庸賃積資,陰結死士,遂追呼尋禽茂,以首祭父墓,由是顯名。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  9. ^ Sima (1084), vols. 58-59.
  10. ^ (舉孝廉,司空辟,皆不就。乃變名姓,隱居避亂魯陽山中。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  11. ^ (山民合黨,欲行寇掠。曁散家財以供牛酒,請其渠帥,為陳安危。山民化之,終不為害。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  12. ^ Sima (1084), vols. 59-60.
  13. ^ (避袁術命召,徙居山都之山。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  14. ^ (荊州牧劉表禮辟,遂遁逃,南居孱陵界,所在見敬愛,而表深恨之。曁懼,應命,除宜城長。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  15. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 65.
  16. ^ (太祖平荊州,辟為丞相士曹屬。後選樂陵太守, ...) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  17. ^ (... 徙監冶謁者。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  18. ^ (舊時冶,作馬排,每一熟石用馬百匹;更作人排,又費功力;曁乃因長流為水排,計其利益,三倍於前。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  19. ^ (在職七年,器用充實。制書襃歎,就加司金都尉,班亞九卿。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  20. ^ a b c d de Crespigny (2007), p. 298.
  21. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 69.
  22. ^ (文帝踐阼,封宜城亭侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  23. ^ (黃初七年,遷太常,進封南鄉亭侯,邑二百戶。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  24. ^ (時新都洛陽,制度未備,而宗廟主祏皆在鄴都。曁奏請迎鄴四廟神主,建立洛陽廟,四時蒸嘗,親奉粢盛。崇明正禮,廢去淫祀,多所匡正。在官八年,以疾遜位。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  25. ^ [景初二年]二月癸卯,以太中大夫韓曁為司徒。) Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  26. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 74.
  27. ^ (景初二年春,詔曰:「太中大夫韓曁,澡身浴德,志節高絜,年踰八十,守道彌固,可謂純篤,老而益劭者也。其以曁為司徒。」) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  28. ^ (楚國先賢傳曰:曁臨終遺言曰:「夫俗奢者,示之以儉,儉則節之以禮。歷見前代送終過制,失之甚矣。若爾曹敬聽吾言,斂以時服,葬以土藏,穿畢便葬,送以瓦器,慎勿有增益。」) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  29. ^ (又上疏曰:「生有益於民,死猶不害於民。況臣備位台司,在職日淺,未能宣揚聖德以廣益黎庶。寢疾彌留,奄即幽冥。方今百姓農務,不宜勞役,乞不令洛陽吏民供設喪具。懼國典有常,使臣私願不得展從,謹冒以聞,惟蒙哀許。」) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  30. ^ (帝得表嗟歎,乃詔曰:「故司徒韓曁,積德履行,忠以立朝,至於黃髮,直亮不虧。旣登三事,望獲毗輔之助,如何奄忽,天命不永!曾參臨沒,易簀以禮;晏嬰尚儉,遣車降制。今司徒知命,遺言卹民,必欲崇約,可謂善始令終者也。其喪禮所設,皆如故事,勿有所闕。」) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  31. ^ (時賜溫明祕器,衣一稱,五時朝服,玉具劒佩。) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  32. ^ (夏四月薨,遺令歛以時服,葬為土藏。謚曰恭侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  33. ^ (子肇嗣。肇薨,子邦嗣。) Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  34. ^ (楚國先賢傳曰:邦字長林。少有才學。晉武帝時為野王令,有稱績。為新城太守,坐舉野王故吏為新城計吏,武帝大怒,遂殺邦。) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  35. ^ (曁次子繇,高陽太守。繇子洪,侍御史。洪子壽,字德貞。) Chuguo Xianxian Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  36. ^ (晉諸公贊曰:自曁已下,世治素業,壽能敦尚家風,性尤忠厚。早歷清職,惠帝踐阼,為散騎常侍,遷守河南尹。病卒,贈驃騎將軍。) Jin Zhugong Zan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  37. ^ (壽妻賈充女。充無後,以壽子謐為嗣,弱冠為祕書監侍中,性驕佚而才出壽。) Jin Zhugong Zan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  38. ^ (少子蔚,亦有器望,並為趙王倫所誅。韓氏遂滅。) Jin Zhugong Zan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 24.
  • 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.