Pan Ku

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pan Ku


(also Pan Meng-ch’ien). Born in 32; died in 92. Chinese writer and historian.

Pan Ku was born into a noble family. He held important posts. He served in the army that was formed under the command of Tou Hsien during the campaign against the Hsiung-nu (Huns). After the army’s defeat, Pan Ku was put in prison (92), where he died.

Pan Ku’s main work was the completion of The History of the Earlier Han Dynasty (58–82), which had been started by his father, Pan Piao (two sections were written by Pan Ku’s sister, Pan Chao). The book contains various materials on the history, economics, and culture of ancient China and Middle Asia. Pan Ku was famous as an author of fu; in particular, his descriptive Ode on the Two Capitals was praised. Pan Ku was a theorist of this genre of poetry.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Source: Pan Ku, The History of the Former Han Dynasty, 3 vols.
Born into an aristocratic family, he was the younger brother of the famous historian Pan Ku and of the equally illustrious female writer Pan Chao; sent by the Emperor Ming Ti to Central Asia, he employed guile, ingenuity, and personal bravery as well as military skill to secure Chinese control of the Tarim Basin by 91; this opened the Silk Road to the West; this operation is even more noteworthy because Pan Ch'ao accomplished it cheaply, employing armies of local tribesmen to subdue other tribes, even smashing a 70,000-man Kushan army (90); remained as protector-general of the Western Regions until his death (102), during which time he sent an expedition under Kan Ying across Parthia (Khorosan) in an unsuccessful attempt to reach Rome (94-97).
Sources: Pan Ku, The History of the Former Han Dynasty.