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Official Biography of Zhu Quan
Translated from Ming History, Folio 117, p.14a, Taiwan ed. p.3591 1
明史:朱權
An impression of Zhu Quan (1929) 2      

The Dedicated Prince of Ning (Ning Xian Wang) [Zhu] Quan was the 17th son of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty [Zhu Yuanzhang, 1328-1399; he reigned as Hung Wu Emperor 1368-1398, with his capital in Nanjing]. [Zhu Quan was] ennobled in the 24th year of Hung Wu (1391) and two years later went to his fief, Da Ning.

Da Ning, beyond Xifengkou [a pass in the Great Wall about 200 km east-northeast of Beijing -- then called Beiping -- and about 150 km south southwest of the town of Da Ning], was formerly called Huizhou. To the east [this district] connected with the lef t [west] side of Liao [fief of Zhu Zhi, 15th son of Zhu Yuanzhang]; to the west it connected with Xuan Fu [northwest of Beiping, fief of Gu prince Zhu Hui, 19th son of Zhu Yuanzhang]. It was a great market town with 80,000 armed soldiers and 6,000 chariots. The attached mounted troops at Duoyan Sanwei [3rd Commandery of Duoyan {14779.14 and 10.1693, which says see Jianzhou 9786.30}; not located] were all strong and eager for battle. Zhu Quan often met with the other princes and traveled out to the frontier areas; he was considered a good strategist.

[When Zhu Yuanzhang's first son, Zhu Biao, died in 1392, Biao's son Zhu Yunwen {?-1440?} became crown prince and, when Zhu Yuanzhang died in 1399, duly ascended the throne as Jianwen Emperor {1399-1403}. However, in 1399 Zhu Yuanzhang's fourth son Zhu Di, prince of Yan {modern Beijing}, decided to contest the throne.]

When the Prince of Yan first raised his soldiers [against Jianwen] he had a discussion with all his generals, saying, 'Once in the past, when I was patrolling the border areas, I saw that all the soldiers of Da Ning looked eager and fierce. If I could seize Da Ning, [thus] cutting off eastern Liao and securing the border troops, it would be of great help in my battles, and the great event [of my capturing the throne] could be realized.'

In the first year of Jianwen (1399) the court, deciding it was afraid of an alliance between the Zhu Quan and the Prince of Yan, sent someone to summon Zhu Quan [to Nanjing]. Zhu Quan did not go, so [the emperor] sliced off three of his defensive units. In the 9th lunar month of the same year Wu Gao, duke of Jiangyin, attacked Yongping [near the coast, just south of the Great Wall]. The Prince of Yan rescued it, Gao retreated. From Liujiakou [in northern Yongping, by the Great Wall], the Prince of Yan then hastened along side roads to Da Ning [where], using guile, he said he was exhausted and had come urgently seeking rescue.

Zhu Quan invited the Prince of Yan to ride alone into the city. [Here they] hugged each other and with great emotion said there was no way they could raise up their soldiers. So [the Prince of Yan] asked [Zhu Quan] on his behalf to draft a letter asking forgiveness. [The Prince of Yan] remained several days, acting courteously, not revealing he had prepared crack troops from Beiping and hidden them outside the city walls. His officials gradually came into the city, and secretly he made a pact with the Sanwei Division Chief as well as all [Zhu Quan's] crack troops.

Upon the Prince of Yan's departure, Zhu Quan came out to see him off. When they arrived at an open space the hidden soldiers rose up and crowded around Zhu Quan. The Sanwei Bodyguard and all the crack troops with one shout gathered together. [Zhu Quan's] guardian general Zhu Jian could not withstand the attack and was killed. The wives, concubines and princes were all escorted to Songtingguan [at Zunhua, inside the Great Wall, about 50 km west of Xifengkou]. They then returned to Beiping. Da Ning city was thus evacuated. Zhu Quan [now] joined the army of Yan, often drafting official summons on behalf of the Prince of Yan. The Prince of Yan told Zhu Quan that, when the matter was completed successfully, he would divide the kingdom in half [with Zhu Quan].

When [in 1498 it became clear that the Prince of Yan would] attain the throne, the Prince [of Ning] asked to be sent to a southern area. [First he] requested Suzhou, [but Zhu Di] said, 'This is within the imperial domain.' [When Quan] requested Qiantang (Hangzhou), [Di] said, 'The deceased [Hung Wu] emperor set it aside for our 5th brother [Zhu Su?] but with no result [Zhu Su became Prince of Zhou, in Kaifeng]. Jianwen did not have the moral imperative to rule it, and his younger brother also could not attain it. [On the other hand], Jianning [in northern Fujian], Chongqing [in Sichuan], Xingzhou [on the Yangzi river in central Hubei] and Dongchang [west of Jinan in Shandong] are all good places. Younger brother, select [someplace like those].'

In the 2nd month of the first year of the Yongle reign [1403] [Zhu Quan] moved his fief to Nanchang, [capital of Jiangxi province]. The emperor then personally wrote a poem and sent it to him. He ordered [Zhu Quan] to use the regional government office for his lodging, not allowing him to change the glazed tile structure [e.g., put up fortifications].

Later someone accused Zhu Quan of using black magic ("wushu"3). [The emperor then] secretly investigated, but with negative results, [so he] let it go. After this [Zhu Quan] always kept a low profile. He built a beautiful cottage somewhere, and here played the qin and read books. Until the end of the Chengzu period (1403-1425) he encountered no more troubles.

During the Renzong period [1425-6] the laws [restricting princes] became more liberal, and so [Zhu Quan] sent up a request saying that Nanchang was not his fiefdom. The emperor sent a response, saying, 'My uncle received Nanchang from the late emperor more than 20 years ago; if it is not his fiefdom, then what is it?'

In the 3rd year of the Xuande reign (1426-36) [Zhu Quan requested to be allowed to move to farmland close to the city. The next year he wrote an essay saying members of the imperial family should not have special rank. The emperor became very angry. [Zhu Quan realized] he had exceeded the proper limits, and sent up a letter apologizing for his error.

By this time, when Zhu Quan was already quite old, some officials would often engage in backbiting in order to show their own majesty, but Zhu Quan met every day with scholars and set his mind to soaring up to heaven [i.e., to Daoist matters]. He named himself the Emaciated Immortal. He had received an imperial order to compile the Comprehensive Mirror of Extensive Essays (Tongjian Bolun) in two folios. He also wrote Family Advice (Jia Xun) in six sections (pian), Ceremonial Customs of the Country of Ning (Ningguo Yifan) in 74 chapters (zhang), Secret (Private?) History of the Han and Tang (Han Tang Mishi) in two folios, History Breaks Off (Shi Duan) in one folio, Book of Essays (Wen Pu) in eight folios, Book of Poetry (Shi Pu) in one folio, and several more tens of annotated compilations.

[Zhu Quan] died in the 13th year of the Zhengtong reign [1436-50]. Because his son [Zhu] Panshi died before him [ennobled 1405; died 1437], he was succeeded by his grandson [Zhu] Dianpei [1418-1491], Prince of Qing [tranquility]. Dianpei was good at prose and verse, but by nature he was excitable and suspicious....

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Comments on the translation
Comments in square brackets [ ] added by translator, often with help from Tong Kin-Woon. For some reason Zhu Quan's biography omits both his qin work and the fact that he also wrote a number of operas.

The original text is as follows:

寧獻王朱權,太祖第十七子。洪武二十四年(1391)受封。二年之後,朱權前往藩地大寧。

大寧地處喜峰口外,屬古會州之地,東連遼左,西接宣府,為一大鎮。朱權帶有甲兵八萬,戰車六千,所屬朵顏三衛騎兵均驍勇善戰。朱權多次會合諸王出塞作戰,以善於謀略著稱。

燕王起兵之初,與諸將商議道:「以往我巡察塞上時,見大寧諸軍十分剽悍。如果我能獲得大寧,截斷遼東,採用邊騎助戰,便大事可成啊!」

建文元年(1399),朝臣商議惟恐朱權與燕王會合,派人召朱權回京,朱權未到,被削三護衛。當年九月,江陰侯吳高進攻永平,燕王前往營救。吳高退兵,燕王於是從劉家口抄小路直趨大寧,詐稱是因為窮蹙前來求救。

朱權邀請燕王一人騎馬入城,燕王握住朱權的手大哭,訴說自己是不得已才起兵的,求他代為起草奏章謝罪。燕王居住數日,朱權都誠懇相待,全無防備之心。北平精稅部隊則埋伏城外,官兵也漸漸入城,暗中勾結三衛部長及諸守軍。

燕王這才告辭離去,朱權到郊外為其餞行,伏兵趁機而起,將朱權擁往前行。三衛弓廣騎及諸守軍,一呼雲集。守將朱鑒抵擋不住,力戰而死。王府妃妾世子均隨入松亭關,回到北平,大寧成了一座空城。朱權進入燕軍之後,時常為燕王草擬檄文。燕王對朱權許諾,事成之後,平分天下。

待燕王即帝位後,朱權請求改封南方。當他要求蘇州時,燕王回答:「蘇州屬於畿內。」當他要求錢塘時,燕王則說:「先父將它賜給五弟,終無結果。建文帝無道,在錢塘封其弟為王,也未能享受。建寧、重慶、荊州、東昌都是好地,權弟你隨意選擇吧。」

永樂元年(1403)二月,改封南昌,成祖親自寫詩送行,命朱權以布政司為宮邸,建築規模毫無變更。

不久,有人告發朱權用巫術害人,並且誹謗別人,成祖命人秘密查訪,未獲證據,於是停止追查此事。從此以後,朱權終日韜光養晦,並建造書齋一間,彈琴讀書於其間,因此,成祖在位期間,朱權未遭禍患。

仁宗時,法禁稍有緩解,朱權乃上書說南昌並非他的封國。仁宗回信說道:「南昌,叔父從先皇那裡受封已達二十餘年了,不是封國,那又是甚麼呢?」

宣德三年(1428),朱權請求宣宗將靠近南昌城的灌城鄉土田賜給他。第二年又議論說宗室不應確定品級。宣宗十分生氣,對朱權頗有指責之意。朱權便上書謝罪。

當時朱權年紀已老,有關官員大多相互傾軋,以顯示自己的威權,而朱權則整日與文學士互相往來,寄託自己的遠大志向,自號曰瞿仙。朱權曾奉命編輯《通鑒博論》二卷,又寫成《家訓》六篇,《寧國儀範》七十四章,《漢唐秘史》二卷,《史斷》一卷,《文譜》八卷,《詩譜》一卷,其他記載、編纂數十種。

正統十三年(1448),朱權去世。世子朱盤火式已死,因此由朱權之孫靖王朱奠培繼嗣。

The biography then continues with more on Zhu Dianpei.
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2. Zhu Quan Image (1929)
The image above was originally printed in 朱氏八支宗譜,民國十八年修並刻,江西省八大山人紀念館藏本 a volume in the collection of the Badashanren Memorial in Nanchang, dated 1929. (For Bada Shanren see Wiki.) It is copied here from Yao Pinwen, 2002 (see previous footnote).

The other Zhu Quan page also shows a photograph taken by John Thompson on December 25, 1999 at the gravesite of Zhu Quan west of Nanchang, Jiangxi province, plus a statue of him drinking tea. There is an impression of the grave in the oil painting Wild Geese over the Grave of Zhu Quan by Edgar Francisko Jimenez, made from the photo mentioned above. It is used as an illustration for the melody Qiu Hong, sometimes attributed to Zhu Quan.
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3. Zhu Quan's "black magic" (巫術 wushu)
Elsewhere the specific accusion against Zhu Quan is said to have been that he engaged in "wugu" (8929.66 巫蠱): a form of sorcery which entailed putting poisonous insects into an enclosed container until the most deadly ate all the rest, then burning the survivor and making a potion from its ashes.
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