Yan Zhengzai

Yan Zhengzai (568 BC – 535 BC) was the third daughter of Yan Xiang and the mother of Confucius.

Yan Zhengzai
Born568 BC
Died535 BC
Resting placeCemetery of Duke Liang, State of Lu
SpouseShuliang He
ChildrenConfucius (son)
  • Yan Xiang (father)
RelativesKong Pi (stepson)


Kong He's familyEdit

Kong He, known as Shuliang He, married his first wife Lady Shi. She gave birth to nine daughters but no sons. Later, he married a concubine and gave birth to a son, called Kong Pi, courtesy name Meng Pi, who was said to have deformities in his feet and could not become his father's heir.[1]


Anxious for a son, the aged Shuliang He approached the father of the Yan family for a marriage to one of his daughters. Yan Xiang (顏襄) had three daughters, the youngest of whom was called Yan Zhengzai. Yan Xiang asked his three daughters, "Shuliang He was a scholar and came from a noble family. His height was ten feet and had unparalleled military strength. He was very nice, although he was old and impatient, but that is not worth the hesitation, you three who want to be his wife?" While the two daughters kept silent, the third daughter Yan Zhengzai said, "By heeding father's decision, so what should I ask?" Yan Zhengzai's father said, "So it's you may marry to him."[2]

When Yan Zhengzai married Shuliang He, she was 18 years old while he was 72 years old.[3] Due to her husband's old age, Yan was worried that she would not be able to conceive a son in time, so she went to Mount Ni to pray to its mountain god for a son. She eventually gave birth to a son, so they named him Kong Qiu, courtesy name Zhongni.[4][5]

Death of Kong HeEdit

Kong Qiu was three years old when Shuliang He died. Yan Zhengzai later moved to Queli (闕里) with her son and stepson Kong Pi, whose mother had also died. They lived in poverty and had a very difficult life.[6] Due to her being literate thanks to her well-educated father, Yan Zhengzai personally taught Kong Qiu, which would have influences into his adult life[7] and raised him into a nine-foot six inches man who everyone called "long man".


Yan Zhengzai died in 535 BC at the age of 33 when Kong Qiu was 17 years old. Her son first stationed her coffin along the crossroad of Wufu (五父之衢) and began asking around for the location of his father's grave. He eventually got told by Zou Man Fu (郰曼父)'s mother and managed to locate his father's grave near Fangshan, and Yan Zhengzai was buried together with him.[8][9][10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 饶远、刘斯佳 (2015). 新雅‧名人馆-万世师表‧孔子 (in Chinese). Hong Kong: 新雅文化. p. 6. ISBN 978-9620863899.
  2. ^ 《孔子家语·卷九·本姓解》:防叔生伯夏,伯夏生叔梁纥,曰:“虽有九女,是无子。”其妾生孟皮,孟皮一字伯尼,有足病,于是乃求婚于颜氏。颜氏有三女,其小曰徵在,颜父问三女曰:“陬大夫虽父祖为士,然其先圣王之裔,今其人身长十尺,武力绝伦,吾甚贪之,虽年长性严,不足为疑,三子孰能为之妻?”二女莫对,徵在进曰:“从父所制,将何问焉。”父曰:“即尔能矣。”遂以妻之。
  3. ^ 孔門聖賢-孔子 https://www.mahans.edu.my/kongzi/
  4. ^ 《孔子家语·卷九·本姓解》:徵在既往庙见,以夫之年大,惧不时有男,而私祷尼丘之山以祈焉,生孔子,故名丘,字仲尼。
  5. ^ 孔子家語e 本姓解e https://ctext.org/kongzi-jiayu/ben-xing-jie/zh
  6. ^ "孔門聖賢-孔子".
  7. ^ 孔穎達, 龔抗雲, 鄭玄, 李學勤 (2001). 禮記正義(檀弓) (in Chinese). 五南圖書出版股份有限公司. ISBN 978-957-9402-31-6.
  8. ^ 《孔子世家》相關討論 https://ctext.org/shiji/kong-zi-shi-jia/zh
  9. ^ 禮記·檀弓上第三》,gBook
  10. ^ 唐,杜佑,《通典》卷103