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Tan Sitong
Full name Tan Sitong
Born 10 March 1865(1865-03-10)
Died 28 September 1898 (aged 33)
Region Chinese Philosophy
This is a Chinese name; the family name is 譚 (Tan).

Tan Sitong (simplified Chinese: 谭嗣同traditional Chinese: 譚嗣同pinyin: Tán SìtóngWade-Giles: T'an Szut'ung, March 10, 1865—September 28, 1898), courtesy name Fusheng 复生, pseudonym Zhuangfei (壮飞), was an eminent Chinese revolutionist in the late Qing Dynasty who was in support of liberal reform.


Early life and Literary Activity

When Tan was young, his mother died, and he had an unhappy childhood living with his stepmother. Before turned 30, he had traveled to several different provinces of China including Xinjiang, and wrote more than 200 poems while traveling. In his poems, he expressed his fear of social unrest.

In 1896, along with Liang Qichao, he openly called for a reformation in poems. Tan asked then-poets to try writing some "modern poems" (新詩). Although this kind of "modern poetry" simply involved using new nouns to express different feelings (尋扯新名詞以自表異) and "old style containing new thinkings" (以舊風格含新意境), it represented the hearts of many scholars who were calling for new culture and new thinking.

Hundred Days' Reform

While he was still living in Hunan, Tan Sitong was enlisted in local reform projects by the provincial governor, Chen Baozhen. He subsequently became involved in the Hundred Days' Reform in 1898, supporting the Guangxu Emperor. He was one of the four liberals to be appointed to the Grand Council on June 20, 1898. Unlike his colleague Kang Youwei, Tan decided against fleeing after the failure of reforms. Deemed an enemy by the Empress Dowager Cixi, Tan was executed in public on September 28, 1898, along with five others. They were dubbed the "Six gentlemen of the Hundred Days' Reform" (戊戌六君子).

Reform has never come about in any country without the flow of blood. No one in China in modern times has sacrificed himself for the cause of reform, and because of this China is still a poor and backward country. Therefore, I request that the sacrifices begin with myself.[1]

See also


  1. ^ Original text in Chinese: 各国变法无不从流血而成,今日中国未闻有因变法而流血者,此国之所以不昌也。有之,请自嗣同始。

Tan Sitong was portrayed by actor Elliot Yueh Hua in two films made by Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers studio, Chang Cheh’s Iron Bodyguard (1973) [1] and Li Han-hsiang’s The Last Tempest (1976) [2]

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