Biographies of People with Long Life


Shou zhe zhuan (Biographies of persons with long life) is a manuscript edition in three juan and in one volume. The compiler of this rare work was Chen Maoren. A native of Jiaxing, Zhejiang, Chen, whose style name was Wugong, was active in the late Ming dynasty during the Tianqi and Chongzhen reigns (1621−44) and was a prefect of Quanzhou. A great believer in the nurturing of life, Chen later retired to his hometown. The general catalog Si ku quan shu zong mu (General catalog of the imperial Siku collection) lists six works by him, but this title is not included. Ming shi yi wen zhi (The history of Ming dynasty art and literature) and Qianqingtang shu mu (Book catalog of the Qianqingtang Library) list the title, also in three juan. The work is divided in three groups, containing a total of 62 biographies; among them were 27 of emperors and rulers, 17 of elder statesmen, and 18 of ordinary people. In Chinese culture, longevity has been associated with maintenance of good health, and some practices, such as purifications, meditation, and even alchemy were believed to promote longer life. Chen’s work promotes yang sheng (nurturing life) and cultivating health. His own preface is dated 1610. Even though a number of editions of this work appeared during the Qing dynasty (1644−1911), only a few Ming editions now can be found; thus this work is rare. Among several seal impressions in the book is Siming Lu shi baojinglou cang shu yin (Seal of Baojinglou of Lu family of Siming), the seal of Lu Zhi (1725‒94), the famed book collector in Siming (Ningbo), known for his collection of numerous Song, Jin, and Ming works in his private library called Baojinglou (House of armfuls of classics).

Last updated: January 16, 2018