During later stage (後期) of Ming Dynasty (明代), a large number of ‘Shan ren (山人)’, who could not enter government service, appeared as much more people began to prepare the imperial examination (科擧) than previous period. As the surplus intellectuals, they lived a combined type of life between Rushi (入世, go into the society), enjoying the justification of eunil while enjoying worldly pleasure secluding in the city as the secularized hermit (隱者) and chushi (出世, beyond the world). They mostly maintained livelihood receiving economic help by relying on the public officials or influential people or selling poems and essays (詩文) or calligraphy and painting (書畵), living in Jiangnan (江南, south of the lower reaches of the Changjiang River) region.
Wang zhi deng (王穉登, Wang zhi deng) was a typical typ of this Shan ren. He attained fame as he was a favorite with Yuan Wei (袁煒), a power of that period while he was preparing imperial examination at Tai xue (太學, the highest seat of learning in ancient times in China) of Beijing at his age 30. Relationship between Wang zhi deng and Yuan Wei well showed relationship between Shan ren of late Ming dynasty and the power, accordingly, Wang zhi deng attained economic help and fame through Yuan Wei, also, Yuan Wei could raise his fame higher through the writing composed by Wang zhi deng for him. Wang zhi deng, who could not pass two imperial examinations, gave up the examination and lived as Shan ren. After having returned to Wu Men (吳門), he maintained livelihood by selling poems and essays or painting. Wang zhi deng’s poems and essays as well as calligraphy and painting were famous and popular, which was helpful for his livelihood. As Shan ren, Wang zhi deng created social network and attained economic offering through wide friendly relations to support his life. Through wide friendly relations, Wang zhi deng never discriminated high or low of their status, and high or low of ability. Also, Wang zhi deng took a role of an assistant respectively in extension of Retro Theory and insistence of Disposition Theory in the process when the stream of mid and late Ming dynasty poetry went on to Disposition Theory (性靈說) of Gonganpai (公安派) from Retro Theory (復古主義) of Qianhouqizi (前後七子). In the social atmosphere where luxury and enjoyment prevailed during late Ming dynasty, Wang zhi deng pursued leisurely quiteness (閑寂) and indulgence in sensual pleasure (縱欲), showing a unique lifestyle that did not leave real society without participating therein, simultaneously.
The point that majority of Shan ren class appeared during late Ming dynasty was a sociocultural phenomenon of that period, and the existence of Shan ren class was a significant point to understand the society, culture, and literature of this period.