January 31, 2012

Geographic Surveys by the Imperial Order

This work is an incomplete manuscript in three volumes, probably one of the earliest official atlases of the Qing dynasty, which began in 1644. The title, Qin ding fang yu lu cheng kao lue (Geographic surveys by the imperial order), on the cover of volume three, was crossed out at a later date and replaced in red ink with Qin ding huang yu quan lan (Complete atlas by the imperial order). A label on the same cover reads, “these are the draft copies for the compilation at Wu ying dian [the imperial printing press and bindery], and were originally the property of Li Qiyuan [a scholar and member of the Hanlin Academy].” The compilation of this work was by Wang Shihong (1658–1723) and others during the 46th and 47th years of the Kangxi reign (1707–8). The three volumes chiefly document counties and prefectures of most, but not all, of Shanxi Province, as well as the roads continuing into the neighboring provinces of Henan and Shaanxi, in northeast-central China. At the time of the Kangxi reign (1622–1762), the work neither seemed to have been finished nor printed in its entirety. It is unknown whether there ever was a complete copy of this atlas.

Zhang Xianghe's Memorials to the Throne

This work contains memorials written by Zhang Xianghe (1785–1862), dating from January–December 1853, the third year of the Xianfeng reign, with those of the month of January incomplete. According to the biography of Zhang Xianghe in chapter seven of Qing shi gao (History of the Qing dynasty), Zhang achieved his jin shi (doctoral degree) in 1820 and assumed a number of posts, eventually rising to the post of president of the Board of Works in 1859–61. In 1853, when these memorials were written, Zhang was recalled to the capital from Shaanxi Province, where he had been the presiding magistrate. These memorials were probably written while he was still in Shaanxi, but they were not printed at the time, thus parts of them were lost. In one of his memorials, Zhang proposed that due to the increasing military actions in the southeastern region, it was imperative to strengthen the military forces’ training and to raise defenses. He also recommended the bao jia system (an administrative system for organizing the population based on households) to maintain public order. Only eight out of what most likely were 50 or 60 volumes of Zhang’s memorials have been found—these documents written in his last year as magistrate. No information is available on whether other volumes still exist.

Festering Cancer Spreads Evil Influence

This work is a manuscript copy with a table of contents, but without a preface, which takes its title from the cover of the first volume. The work has six juan in six volumes and contains memorials written by Qing official Huang Juezi (1793–1853), who played an important role during the First Opium War (1839–42). In the first memorial, dated the 18th year of the Daoguang reign (1838), he recommended the enactment of drastic laws to prohibit opium. The memorial was sent to all high administrative officials in the provinces for discussion, the results of which were reported to the throne by Lin Zexu, the imperial commissioner with plenipotentiary power appointed by the emperor to end the domination of opium at Canton. In the last memorial, from 1843, Huang Juezi requested the emperor to issue an imperial edict to remove three high officials, Qishan, Yijing, and Wenyu, from office and order them to reflect on their misdeeds. Qishan, who held various high offices, replaced Lin Zexu in 1840 and headed the negotiations with the British, in which he agreed to the cession of Hong Kong and an indemnity of $6 million in silver. Qishan was condemned, dismissed, and banished, but after the termination of the war in 1842 he was reinstated and became governor-general of several provinces. Yijing, a great-grandson of Emperor Qianlong (1711–99), was given the rank of general as the commander of Zhejiang province, and Wenwei was made an assistant commander. In March 1842, Yijing’s forces attacked Ningbo, which had been occupied by the British, but were totally defeated. Yijing also failed in other military actions. He was imprisoned the same year but was later pardoned and reinstated. Huang’s memorial indicated that these three officials were responsible for the military reverses of the war. In addition to memorials and imperial edicts, this manuscript contains correspondence, biographies, and verses. The texts are well organized and are useful sources for the study of the Opium Wars.

Jing Xin Collection of Poems by Chen Zi

This manuscript collection contains poems by Chen Zi (1683–1759), a native of Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, and a famed poet and calligrapher during the Kangxi and Qianlong periods of the Qing dynasty. Though twice recommended for official positions, Chen declined to serve the Qing court. The poems in the work were copied and preserved by his friends during the Qing literary inquisition. Literary inquisition in China had a long history, but during the Qing dynasty such official persecution of intellectuals, commonly called wen zi yu (imprisonment for writing), was particularly rampant. To prevent opposition from intellectuals and silence them, the authorities interpreted the meaning of an individual’s works according to their own rules and sought any single word or sentence for necessary evidence to persecute. Both Chen’s preface and a foreword by Zheng Yiting are imbued with sorrow for the change of dynasty, grief over literary inquisition, and laments over having been born in an inopportune time. The work has six juan, the first five containing 30 poems and the sixth one entitled Jiu jiu yue fu (Poems written in yue fu style), with references to historical events in the Ming dynasty. The poems are arranged chronologically dating from the 52nd year of Kangxi (1713) to the 12th year of the Qianlong reign (1747).

Collected Works on the Northern Peak Temple

The Northern Peak Temple was the official temple dedicated to Hengshan in northeast China, one of the Five Sacred Peaks, worshipped for generations. It is located in Quyang, central Hebei Province. Originally a shrine from 98 B.C., the temple took shape in A.D. 500–512. The relics that now remain date back to 1270, when the temple was renovated. They consist of a main hall, the foundations of another hall, a pavilion, and three gates. The murals in the central hall depict sacred peak deities; three officials of Heaven, Earth, and Water; peaks; mountains; and immortals. At the site are also numerous steles engraved with inscriptions. During the Jiajing period (1522–66), Hou Tingxun, magistrate of Quzhen County, petitioned the provincial governor to compile these inscriptions of historical value. Hou and others were sent to the site to copy them. Eventually Huangfu Fang (1503–82), a poet and Ming official, compiled a volume in three juan and issued it in the 11th year of Jiajing (1532) with the title of Bei yu bian (Compilation of the Northern Peak). This work, a later and much-expanded edition in 10 juan (in four volumes), was compiled by Wei Xueli, a subprefect of Guangping, Hebei, and was issued in the 18th year of the Wanli reign (1590). It contains treatises, with illustrations, on the Northern Peak Temple, other peaks and temples in Quyang, Hengshan, and other areas, and the temple paintings. It also contains a map of China, entitled “Map of the unified domain of the great Ming.”