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Official Biography of Zhu Quan
Translated from Ming History, Folio 117, p.14a, Taiwan ed. p.3591 1
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:














The biography then continues with more on Zhu Dianpei.

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.

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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