Guan Zi - 管子
Writings of Master Guan

Guanzi is a compilation of Chinese philosophical materials. The modern version was edited by Liu Xiang 劉向 in about 26 BCE. It is one of the largest collections of ancient Chinese writings still available today and includes discussions of medicine, politics, economics and philosophy. The many chapters were written by a variety of authors, spanning 2-3 centuries and include Legalist, Confucian and Daoist doctrines.

The Dizi Zhi chapter on education is of special interest, because it provides us with one of the oldest surviving discussions of education in China, outlining the duties of the student and pointing up the fact that the goal of traditional Chinese education was more a matter of shaping attitudes and instilling discipline than the acquisition of knowledge..

The Shu di chapter is one of the earliest descriptions of blood circulation. For interest to those studying medicine there are also many discussions of yin yang and five phases, providing an early view of these essential philosophies..

Guan zi is one of the ancient texts which provides a view of the connection between yang shen and early medicinal works. It is also one of the closest texts in style and language that we have to Laozi as noted by William Baxter in "Lao-tzu and the Tao te ching" (Kohn, LaFargue, SUNY 1998).

The Daoist chapters include self-cultivation yang shen, health, consciousness, and Huang-Lao political and economic philosophy.

The Nei Ye

The Neiye 內業 (Inner Enterprise or Training) chapter has some the oldest recorded descriptions of Daoist meditation techniques. It is the longest of the four Art of Mind (Xin Shu - 心術) chapters in Guanzi, which deal with the Daoist quietism. The only other early texts that deal with this subject are Laozi and Zhuangzi. This text includes some of the earliest Chinese discussions on the workings of the mind and the practice of breath and dietary controls. It is written almost entirely in rhyme and is thought to have been chanted orally.

the author

The text is named after the philosopher Guan Zhong 管仲, Prime Minister to Duke Huan 齊桓公 of Qi (7th century BCE). Liu Xiang 劉向 edited the Guanzi text circa 26 BCE.


The text contained originally 86 chapters, of which only 76 have survived, organized into 8 categories:

  • 經言 Jingyan in 9 chapters
  • 外言 Waiyan in 8 chapters
  • 內言 Neiyan in 7 chapters
  • 短語 Duanyu in 17 chapters
  • 區言 Quyu in 5 chapters
  • 雜篇 Zapian 10 chapters
  • 管子解 Guanzi jie in 4 chapters
  • 管子輕重 Guanzi qingzhong in 16 chapters
Suggested Translation

Rickett, W. Allyn, Loewe, Michael ed. Kuan tzu 管子 in Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide, Berkeley: University of California, Institute of East Asian Studies. 1993. pp. 244–251.

In volume II of the following multivolume work:

Rickett, W. Allyn, trans, Guanzi: Political, Economic and Philosophical Essays from Early China. Princeton Library of Asian Translations, Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1998.

The Neiye translation is revised (His original translation work on the Neiye was published in 1965).

other translations

Rickett, Allyn, trans., Kuan-Tzu: a repository of early Chinese thought; a translation and study of twelve chapters, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1965.

Some chapters, including some of Neiye are translated in vol 2 of: Needham, Science and civilization in China, Cambridge, 1956.


In October 1986 a national conference on the Guanzi and Qi culture was held in Zi Bo 淄博, Shandong Province, the site of the old Qi capital. This conference published a volume of conference papers, Guanzi yanjiu and established a journal, Guanzi xuekan. Also includes a interesting history of Daoism and Daoist texts.

online resources

For the Original Chinese text ›

For the Guanzi in general, or: ›

Directly for the Neiye. ›

For an Internet Archive e-copy of chapters 1-5 in Chinese from Project Gutenberg.

For the Suggested Translation

A large preview can be found on Google Books :

volume 1 ›    volume 2 ›

(including some pages on the Neiye in vol. 2)

Other Resources

·  A review of the suggested translation from the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1999, volume 62 : pp. 174-175) places the original work in context : ›

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

·  Another translation of the Neiye by Robert Eno, Guanzi, The Inner Enterprise : ›

·  An article on the above translation : ›