Zhang Yangyuan, was known as Lyuxiang, with his courtesy name of Kaofu, pen name of Nianzhi. He was known as Mr. Yang Yuan because he once lived in Yangyuan Village, Lutou, suburb of Wuzhen. He was a famous Neo-Confucianist in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties. He worshiped Cheng and Zhu Neo-Confucianism all his life. He was a self-educated agronomist, who was well-known in Wuzhen for his work of teaching students and his moral character, especially his filial piety. He wrote a book named Supplementary Agriculture Book based on his actual practice.
Zhang Yangyuan was born in a wealthy family, and his grandfather, father and brother were all scholars. His father and brother had won the scholar, so he was well-educated from childhood. With his own intelligence and eagerness to learn, he had shown exceptional intelligence and good behavior since childhood. At the age of 15, he attended the exam and became a scholar. In 1631, 23-year-old Yang Yuan went to his friend Yan Shifeng's house to be a teacher and began his teaching career. He was strict in education, stressing both knowledge and virtue, especially focused on enlightenment education and demonstration of learning methods. He was very interested in Confucius and Mencius’ learning, and put forward the idea of "Follow the example of Confucius and Mencius, and learn from Cheng and Zhu", which also ran through his teaching of apprenticeship. During his stay in Dongzhuang Hall, he helped Lyu Liuliang engrave dozens of ancient Confucian works and other masterpieces of famous scholars, which contributed a lot to the preservation of ancient books and the promotion of culture.
Yang Yuanyuan's ambition of seeking knowledge and research was never ended while doing education. He studied lot of books on Confucianism of Confucius and Mencius and Neo-Confucianism of Cheng and Zhu. In his later years, Yang Yuan's academic level became more sophisticated. He made a thorough analysis of Wang Yangming's Biography and revealed the academic essence of Yang Confucianism and Yin Buddhism.
Starting from the 4th year of Shunzhi (1647), Zhang Yang Yuan taught while hiring people to do the farming work. In every spring and autumn, he had to suspend school work and go back to farming. At the age of 48, Yang Yuan completed the Supplementary Agriculture Book to supplement the unfinished matters of Shen's Agricultural Book which was spread at that time. Supplementary Agriculture Book introduced more knowledge and technology of mulberry planting, silkworm rearing and silk weaving industry, which was very suitable for the reality that silkworm and silk weaving industry had come true at that time, and had great guiding significance. Chen Hengli, a contemporary agronomic expert, had a high comment on Supplementary Agriculture Book, and said that it was "one of the great works summarizing the agricultural economy and technology in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties, and it was one of the most valuable heritage in the history of agriculture in China". Later, the book was widely spread in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and other places. And soon put into production according to the methods in the book. In 1957, the Rural Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China came to Jiaxing for a survey and made a special study on the Supplementary Agriculture Book.
In July of the 13th year of Kangxi (1674), Zhang Yang Yuan died peacefully and was buried in the farmland half a mile southeast of his house, and later moved to the bank of the Beixi River Bridge in Yangyuan Village. During the reign of Qianlong, the academic envoy of Zhejiang set up a monument entitled "Tomb of Mr. Zhang, a Confucian scholar of Neo-Confucianism". In the 11th year of Tongzhi (1872), the Qing government in order to win the hearts of the people, decreed that Zhang Yangyuan should be sacrificed to the Holy temple, and to worship Zhang Yangyuan's plaque in the corridor house in front of the main hall of the Confucian temple and share the sacrifices offered to the Confucian temple. This was a great honor in feudal society.
Zhang Yangyuan's works, it has recorded in Qing History Manuscripts Volume 480 - "Ru Lin Yi", such as Reading Notes, Reading Historical Idols, Recent Ancient Records and so on. Later generations published Complete Works of Mr. Yang Yuan.
Zhang Yangyuan was famous for teaching, research and outstanding works. He was the gentleman who ranking first in the history of Wuzhen.Keyword: