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Huaji-ists, The

  • By: Jocelyn Chey
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The earliest recorded humorists in the Chinese literary corpus were the huaji (guji). Their role was somewhat like European court jesters but since there were also significant differences, the term huaji-ists is preferred. Compared with their European counterparts, the Chinese jesters were well educated and often employed on equal terms with other officials. They were not acrobats or musicians, who were of inferior social status.

Biographies can be found in the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian), by Sima Qian (145–81 BCE) and Ban Gu (32–92 CE), an early Chinese historical work. These were intended to demonstrate how wit and humor can achieve political and social change and how brave and quick-thinking scholars can deflect wrath and even criticize kings and emperors. These uses of ...

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