During the Xining reign period (1068-77) of Emperor Shenzong 宋神宗 (r. 1067-85), Prime Minister Wang Anshi (1021-86) implemented his New Reform Laws.  Wanting to make use of people’s talents, he sometimes bypassed the formal channels to appoint people who had not passed the requisite exams as his circuit supervisors.  Zhao Ji and Liu Yi were both promoted in this manner as defence judges for Xiongzhou and they in turn recommended people under them for other posts.  A bold-faced jester:

Source: Pingzhou ketan 萍洲可談, by Zhu Yu 朱彧 (fl. c. 1110)

… put on a skit before the emperor.  He straddled an ass and rode up the hall to the royal dais; when the courtiers tried to stop him he said, `But I heard that anyone with legs could climb to the top!’  The numbers of those selected informally decreased.

 

熙寧間,王介甫行新法,欲用人材,或以選人為監司。趙濟、劉誼皆雄州防禦推官,提舉常平等事,薦所部官改官,而舉將自未改官。蓋用才不限資格,又不欲便授品秩,且惜名器也。其時多引人上殿,伶人對上作俳,跨驢直登軒陛,左右止之,其人曰:「將謂有腳者盡上得。」薦者少沮。

See another example of a jester besting this top minister.

 

Source: Pingzhou ketan 萍洲可談, by Zhu Yu 朱彧 (fl. c. 1110), fol. 3, Siku Quanshu 四庫全書 (Shanghai: Guji Chubanshe, 1987), vol. 1038, p. 310a.

Photo credit: JACLOU-DL at pixabay

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