Liu An

Liu An

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Líu Ān was a Chinese
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...

 and advisor to his nephew, Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

 (武帝) of the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 in China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and the legendary inventor of t'ai chi. With his book, the Huainanzi
The Huáinánzǐ is a 2nd century BCE Chinese philosophical classic from the Han dynasty that blends Daoist, Confucianist, and Legalist concepts, including theories such as Yin-Yang and the Five Phases. It was written under the patronage of Liu An, Prince of Huainan, a legendarily prodigious author...

, he was responsible for further advancement in the studies of cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 and geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 in ancient China.


Noted for his literary ability, Liu An was reputed to be able to compose an elaborate prose between waking and finishing breakfast. He was a grandson of the founding Han Dynasty (漢朝) emperor Liu Bang (劉邦), and he became the King
King of Huainan
King of Huainan was a noble title during the Han Dynasty in China. It was created by Liu Bang, King of Han, later Emperor Gao of Han in 202 BC for Ying Bu , former King of Jiujiang. Ying Bu rebelled against Emperor Gao of Han in 196 BC and was killed in action...

 of Huainan
Huainan is a prefecture-level city with 2,334,000 inhabitants in central Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China. It borders the provincial capital of Hefei to the south, Lu’an to the southwest, Fuyang to the west, Bozhou to the northwest, Bengbu to the northeast and Chuzhou to the east.Its...

 (literally "south of the Huai River
Huai River
The Huai River is a major river in China. The Huai River is located about mid-way between the Yellow River and Yangtze River, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east...

"), at the age of 16 after his father, Liu Chang (劉長), died. In a fate similar to his fathers, he committed suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 after a failed coup attempt.

In addition to composing literary pieces himself, Liu An also frequently invited other scholars as guests to his estate. Eight scholars in particular became known as the Eight Immortals of Huainan
Eight Immortals of Huainan
The Eight Immortals of Huainan , also known as the Eight Gentlemen , were the eight scholars under the patronage of Liu An , the prince of Huainan during the Western Han Dynasty. They are not deified in any religions and the xian "immortal" is used metaphorically to describe their talent...

 (淮南八仙). Together, these scholars and Liu An published a treatise in 139 BCE. known as the Huainanzi
The Huáinánzǐ is a 2nd century BCE Chinese philosophical classic from the Han dynasty that blends Daoist, Confucianist, and Legalist concepts, including theories such as Yin-Yang and the Five Phases. It was written under the patronage of Liu An, Prince of Huainan, a legendarily prodigious author...

(淮南子), translated as "Book of the Master of Huainan", or the "Huainan Philosophers". This book is considered one of the cornerstones of Daoist philosophy, along with the works of Laozi
Laozi was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching . His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism...

 and Zhuangzi
Zhuangzi was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BCE during the Warring States Period, a period corresponding to the philosophical summit of Chinese thought — the Hundred Schools of Thought, and is credited with writing—in part or in whole—a work known by his name,...

. Along with the earlier Shu Jing (Classic of History
Classic of History
The Classic of History is a compilation of documentary records related to events in ancient history of China. It is also commonly known as the Shàngshū , or simply Shū...

) of the 5th century BC (Warring States era), this book provided further concrete information on geography, including descriptions of the topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

 of China. His book was also concerned with mathematics and music, making use of the "Pythagorean comma
Pythagorean comma
In musical tuning, the Pythagorean comma , named after the ancient mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, is the small interval existing in Pythagorean tuning between two enharmonically equivalent notes such as C and B , or D and C...

" and listing the first known Chinese 12 musical tone tuning.

Legend of inventing Soy Milk

According to the legend, soy milk was developed by Liu An who made it for his mother who was old and ill but want to taste soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

 which her teeth would not be able to chew. Liu An was very troubled by that and the idea of grinding the soybean was actually suggested by his mother, although there is no historical evidence for this legend. In Bencao Gangmu, where Li was attributed to the development of bean curd
is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is part of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and others. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu...

 with no mention of soy milk being invented by anyone, the story was also told by another Ming dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 writer, Li Yi (李翊). although earlier 10th century writing, the song of bean curd (豆腐詩), already mentioned the method of Huainan in Song dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 by Zhu Xi
Zhu Xi
Zhū​ Xī​ or Chu Hsi was a Song Dynasty Confucian scholar who became the leading figure of the School of Principle and the most influential rationalist Neo-Confucian in China...

 It is also mentioned in a book which mentioned bean curd was called Lai Ki in Han dynasty, and the word appeared in an early Song dynasty writing. While other Chinese sources was found to discredit the Liu An invention theory, stating Liu An lived with a lot of vegetarian monks and the method was taught by them, or it is the Chinese daoists that was recruited by him used alchemy methods and made both soy milk and bean curd in a more alchemical method as medicines of eternal life, and Liu An is only the powerful noble at that time where he can order the mass-production of such items and spread it around thus making him famous for soy milk and bean curd. Yet most soy bean related work place still places Liu An as the god
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 of bean curd and worship him as the inventor of both soy milk and bean curd.

A different tradition could be found in 《金華地方風俗志》 and 《中國風俗故事集》mentioning soy milk and bean curd was made before the Han dynasty and dated it all the way back to the warring states period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 by the Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

 general Yue Yi
Yue Yi
Yue Yi was an officer of the State of Yan during the Warring State period, also known as Lord Guojun. He was the son of the prime minister of the small nation of Zhongshan, but when Zhongshan was destroyed by Zhao's King Wuling, he was forced to wander from country to country...

, Yet these two books are rather recent and the quote in it was only a legend told to bean curd makers by speech without written record.

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