November 25, 2014

Hydraulic Machinery of the West, in Six Juan

Tai xi shui fa (Hydraulic machinery of the West) is the first work on Western agricultural hydraulic technology introduced to China. It gathers the essence of European classical hydraulic engineering. The author was Xiong Sanba (Sabatino de Ursis, 1575–1620), an Italian Jesuit missionary, who dictated the texts, which were translated into Chinese by Xu Guangqi (1562−1633) and edited by Li Zhizao (1565−1630). This copy, first published in 1612, has three prefaces at the beginning of the work, written by four Ming authors, one jointly by Cao Zibian and Zheng Yiwei, another by Peng Weicheng. The third preface is by the translator, Xu Guangqi. Also included is an essay by Ursis, entitled Shui fa ben lun (Treatise on hydraulics). The name of the engraver also can be seen in the area of the center of the page. The book is illustrated.

Investigation into the Phenomena in the Atmosphere, in Two Juan

Kong ji ge zhi (Investigation into the phenomena in the atmosphere) is a scientific work by Gao Yizhi (Chinese name of Alfonso Vagnoni, 1566−1640). This work, in two juan, introduces in detail the Western theory of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water, which are discussed in juan one. Juan two explains various natural phenomena related to the four elements, such as meteors, meteorites, thunder and lightning, comets, the Milky Way, colors of the sky, rainbows, wind, rain, clouds, fog, snow, hail, ice, dew, and frost.  Each juan is preceded by a table of contents.  Juan one begins with a subtitle Kong ji ge zhi juan shang (Part one of Kong ji zhi ge). This is followed by the authors' names in the next three lines: “Ji Xi Yesu hui shi Gao Yizhi zhuan” (written by Gao Yizhi, a Jesuit Missionary from the Far West); “Gujiang hou xue Han Yun ding” (revised by your pupil Han Yun of Gujiang); and “Nanjiang hou xue Chen Suoxing yue” (reviewed by your pupil Chen Suoxing of Nanjiang). Only juan one is presented here.

The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, in Five Juan

Jieziyuan hua zhuan (The Mustard Seed Garden manual of painting), also known as Jie zi yuan hua pu, was compiled in the early Qing dynasty. The work was commissioned by Shen Xinyou, son-in-law of the famous playwright Li Yu (1611−circa 80), whose mansion in Nanjing, was called Jieziyuan (Mustard Seed Garden). The compiler and editor was the local landscape artist Wang Gai (active 1677−1705), who was assisted by his brothers Wang Shi and Wang Nie. The manual systematically introduces basic techniques of Chinese painting, which are provided in rhyme. The work also gives examples and analyses of the works of great landscape painters and instructions on how to imitate them. The original edition was printed in multicolor with the technique of douban (assembled-block), a printing process to produce refined pictures. With its bright and vivid colors, it represented a masterpiece of ancient Chinese woodblock printing and played an influential role in the history of Chinese printing. It was also influential in Edo-period Japan. Shown here is juan one of a later edition of this classic on Chinese painting.

Yangshi Lei Archives, 1. Vertical Plan of the Circular Gate at Lüxin Shuwu Library

Shown here is the vertical elevation of a circular decorative gate at the Lȕxin Shuwu library (Library of faith keeping), situated in a corner area in the Yuanmingyuan (the Old Summer Palace), a vast complex of gardens and palaces constructed in the 18th−19th centuries in the northwest suburbs of Beijing. An imperial library often functioned as a place to collect books, give lectures, hold discussions, or administer civil examinations. It was also possible for the emperor to rest, read, work, or interview various people there. The circular-shaped shield or gate was one type of the decorative carved wooden panels in Chinese interior architecture. Such panels varied in shape, as seen in the “two-leg shield” with a support on each side; the “railing shield” that has a railing-like panel on each side; and the “down-to-floor shield” that extends from floor to ceiling. Erecting such shields or gates in a building enables connection of the different spaces but also defines separation. Such decorative panels also provide beauty. Abundant carved decorations cover the beams and columns, with a tracery of latticework decorating the interconnecting spaces. Only the space in the middle is reserved for such decorative gates, with geometric patterns through which people can walk. The shapes of these gates vary, and can be circular, square, hexagonal, or octagonal. The circular gate plan depicted here is called yuan guang zhao (circular light shield). The Yangshi Lei Archives contain architectural plans, models, and documents of the Lei family, who for some 200 years during the Qing Dynasty (1644−1911) were designers of imperial buildings, tombs, and gardens.

Yangshi Lei Archives, 2. Plan of Jiuzhou Qingyan at Yuanmingyuan

Shown here is the site plan of the Hall of Jiuzhou Qingyan, one of the 40 scenic spots in Yuanmingyuan (the Old Summer Palace), a vast complex of gardens and palaces constructed in the 18th−19th centuries in the northwest suburbs of Beijing. It was situated between the front and back lakes and was the center of the Jiuzhou scenic region. Being the largest building group in the back lake area, it was originally a place for the lodging of the emperors and empresses. On a medial axis the plan shows, from south to north, the Three Halls of Yuanmingyuan: the Hall of Yuanmingyuan, the Hall of Fengsan Wusi, and the Hall of Jiuzhou Qingyan. The name of Jiuzhou Qingyan implies peace, tranquility, and continuity throughout China, with the world at peace. The plan is executed in color. The names of all the halls and rooms are labelled in yellow. The Yangshi Lei Archives contain architectural plans, models, and documents of the Lei family, who for some 200 years during the Qing Dynasty (1644−1911) were designers of imperial buildings, tombs, and gardens.

Yangshi Lei Archives, 3. Site Plan of Paiyun Dian (the Cloud-Dispelling Hall) and Foxiangge (the Pavilion of the Fragrance of the Buddha) of the Summer Palace

Shown here is the site plan of two of the most important building complexes in the Summer Palace, the Paiyun Dian (Cloud-Dispelling Hall) and Foxiangge (The Pavilion of the Fragrance of the Buddha). The Summer Palace is a vast landscape of gardens, palaces, and lakes in imperial Beijing, and the Paiyun Dian and Foxiangge are the most complete architectural arrangements at the palace. They also represent the richest building group on a medial axis. The layout progresses upwards, layer by layer in an orderly way, from the Yunhui Yuyu Archway (Archway of Glorious Clouds and Jade Eaves) to the Paiyunmen (the Cloud-Dispelling Gate), and the Cloud-Dispelling Hall, which stands at the center. The Dehui Dian (the Hall of Glorious Virtue) comes next, then the Pavilion of the Fragrance of the Buddha, and two glazed archways, Zongxiangjie (the Realm of Popular Fragrance) and Zhihuihai (the Sea of Wisdom). The entire scene is imposing and lofty with brilliant gold and green colors, with the gardens, temples, and palaces forming an integral whole. This scenic area was built in the 15th year (1750) of the Qianlong reign, but it was burned down and destroyed by the allied Anglo-French troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War (1856−60). During the Guangxu reign (1875−1908) it was restored to the present condition. The Yangshi Lei Archives contain architectural plans, models, and documents of the Lei family, who for some 200 years were designers of imperial buildings, tombs, and gardens during the Qing Dynasty (1644−1911), particularly of the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.