Yan Zhitui (Chinese: 顏之推; pinyin: Yán Zhītuī; Wade-Giles: Yen2 Chih1-T'ui1, 531–591) was a Chinese scholar, calligrapher, painter, musician, and government official who served four different Chinese states during the late Southern and Northern Dynasties (南北朝): the Liang Dynasty (梁朝) in southern China, the Northern Qi (北齊) and Northern Zhou (北周) Dynasties of northern China, and their successor state that reunified China, the Sui Dynasty (隋朝). In his writing, despite his own strong emphasis on Confucian learning and education, Yan Zhitui supported Buddhism and defended it against many of his peers who were staunch critics of Buddhist thoughts.
Yan is best known for the Yanshi jiaxun ("Admonitions for the Yan Clan") which dealt not only with human relations and self-cultivation, but also with literature, the arts, and problems of life and death. Yan stressed the need to acquire a good education, since well-educated ministers were chosen for posts, while others who only had prestigious family lines for centuries wound up working on farms or tending to horses in the stable if they were not properly educated (Ebrey, 82.) Although he stressed the need for mastering calligraphy, painting, and playing the guqin (lute), he warned his sons against practicing too much and gaining too much skill, because those of higher rank, in a degrading and humiliating fashion, could easily call upon them to constantly entertain and produce fanciful calligraphy, poetry, or a musical performance on the spot. Historically, Yanshi jiaxun is considered the most influential and comprehensive book on family education in China. The book also sheds much light on history and social life in the period during which it was written.