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Xilutang Qintong
Qin Anthology of the Hall in the Western Foothills 1
Compiled 1525 (not 1549) by 汪芝 Wang Zhi 2 of She County, Anhui Province 3
Image of putting on strings        
Is this Wang Zhi himself?4        

Preface 6
Qinqu Jicheng. Vol III
by Zha Fuxi5

(This book, now) in the collection of Li Yunzong of Tianjin,7 passed down to us in a hand-copied volume of 25 folios, is a qin handbook miscellanea compiled by Wang Zhi of the Ming dynasty. Wang Zhi lived in the Hall of the Western Foothills (Xilutang), which he himself had constructed in She county (southeast of Huang Shan in Anhui province).

The name Xilutang Qintong is in part derived from the fact that the qin essays are mostly copied from the qintong (qin system) of the Southern Song dynasty (scholar) Xu Li.8 In the Qing dynasty's Erxiang Qinpu (1833) and similar volumes (Xilutang Qintong) is always listed among "extant qin handbooks",9 and so we can see it was then still in circulation. At present there are several different surviving hand copies. Among these, the one copied into this edition preserves (all) 25 folios. In front a prominent official also from She County, Tang Gao,10 wrote a preface11 dated the middle of the 7th lunar month, 1549 (should be 152512).

Folios 1 - 5 are divided into discussions of sound (lun sheng lü, most importantly recording the qin system of Xu Li), qin construction (most importantly repeating information from the Song dynasty Taigu Yiyin, tablature descriptions (zi pu) and miscellanea (za shuo). Among these, the descriptions of finger techniques in Folio 5 are mostly missing, only preserving the first two (double) pages. Folios 6 to 25 altogether collect 170 qin pieces. Another edition preserves only folios 22 to 25, while still another has only the two pieces Chang Ce and Duan Ce from Folio 10. Among all the surviving handbooks from the Ming dynasty, this book contains the largest number of traditional qin pieces.13

Wang Zhi himself stated (in his Opening Comments14):

"My great aim has been to bequeath this tablature, which was extensively selected from a great number of families; I hunted rather a lot. While storing those selected, well, (I discriminated titles, scattered the chaff), and collected them in this volume, hoping for opposing sources/volumes (to help determine the correct original one). The melodies (five tones) and their (six) modes are arranged according to type, organized for easy reference (?), great and small without omission; the tablatures and lyrics, nothing has been hidden. I began when I came of age (i.e., around age nineteen) and continued until my hair turned grey (er mao) old, letting pass 30 years, only now completing it." If now we look at each of the pieces in the handbook, besides noting the Ming copies of Song originals, most of them are very rarely heard sounds bequeathed from the distant past. For example (there are) the old pieces (#139-142) Guangling San, (#166/7) Jianxian (and) Ming Jun, and (#164) Feng Yun You (called Feng Xiang Qianren) from the Han and Tang dynasties (as well as) (#148) Song Yu Bei Qiu from the Song dynasty and so forth. These old pieces all have rather important value when it comes to studying the artistic rules of composing qin pieces during the Han, Wei and Six Dynasties, or as a basis for identifying the period when a piece was created.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 西麓堂琴統 Xilutang Qintong
This handbook is entry 171 in 琴書存目 Qinshu Cunmu (1915), but the entry consists only of a brief reference to its mention in 與古齊琴譜 Yuguzhai Qinpu (1855).

查阜西琴學文萃 Zha Fuxi: Collected Writings about Qin, p.103, has some further information in an essay dated 1956, 西麓堂琴統鈔後記 Draft Afterword to Xilutang Qintong. Zha says that the only reference to this book in old lists is the one in 與古齊琴譜,考存琴譜 An Examination of Existing Qin Handbooks in folio 3 (p.33, l.2) of Yuguzhai Qinpu, which gives the same brief information as Qinshu Cunmu #171. Zha adds that it was not included in the list in 二香琴譜 Erxiang Qinpu (1833; see footnote below).

2. 汪芝 Wang Zhi (~1476 - 1526)
Title pages in 西麓堂琴統 Xilutang Qintong identify 汪芝 Wang Zhi as the "Mountain Man from Yunlan (cloud-vapor) Mountain in She district (歙雲嵐山人 She Yunlan Shanren)". There is some further brief information about him in the preface by Tang Gao (III/3). Here Tang first refers to the 西麓氏 Xilu family (line 3 and again p.2, l.5). Just below this Tang says that the person named 芝 (Wang) Zhi of Xilu had the 字時瑞 style name Shirui, and the 汪 Wang family had lived in 西山 the western mountains for generations. He thus also called himself 西麓 Xilu; unfortunately, his Hall in the Western Foothills (西麓堂 Xilu Tang) has not been located. Zha Fuxi, ibid., apparently getting the information from here, says Wang Zhi was from a family of qin players.

The only personal information about Wang Zhi I have found so far is in two places in this handbook. Fortunately this information has been analyzed in detail by 唐宸博士 Dr. Tang Chen of Hangzhou University. Dr. Tang, a 17th generation descendant of Tang Gao, specializes in 中國古典文獻學 Study of Chinese Ancient Documents. His Master's Thesis was 明代赴朝正使唐皋生平考 Textual Research on Imperial Senior Korean Envoy: Tang Gao's Life in the Ming Dynasty. After I contacted him about Tang Gao's preface to Xilutang Qintong, in particular the problem of dating it, he wrote an article on the topic, Research and Analysis of the Written Time of Xilutang Qintong by Wang Zhi of the Ming Dynasty (Musicology in China, 2014:3, pp. 52-54; see .pdf). This article has now been translated by Juni Yeung and is available on her website.

The dates of ~1476 - 1526 for Wang Zhi come from these two essays plus Tang Chen's own research: Wang Zhi began around age 19, continued until 49, then died the following year, which was 1526.

3. 歙縣 She county
This area, southeast of 黃山 Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), has a 新安 Xin'an river that connected easily to Hangzhou via the 富春 Fuchun River. In the late Ming dynasty there was a rising merchant class in She county. There must also have been considerable qin activities here, as 謝琳 Xie Lin, compiler of Taigu Yiyin (1511), the most important early handbook for qin songs, also lived in this area. Today the county region is noted for its surviving old homes.

4. Illustration from Xilutang Qintong
See QQJC III/53 and compare the image at the top of this page.

5. Author of the QQJC preface
查阜西 Zha Fuxi wrote it in the 1950s or '60s; 吳鉊 Wu Zhao edited for its publication in QQJC.

6. Zha Fuxi preface to Xilutang Qintong (QQJC III/i)
The original text is as follows,

天津李允中先生藏,轉抄本,二十五卷。明汪芝所輯的琴譜雜集。汪芝住在歙縣自築的西麓堂,此書琴論又大都錄自南宋徐理的《琴統》,故稱《西麓堂琴統》。在清代《二香琴譜》等書中,此譜均在見存琴譜之列,可見它一直在流傳。目前存有抄本數種。其中之一,即本編影印本,存二十五卷。前有嘉靖二十八年己酉(西元一五四九)秋七月唐皋序。一至五卷分論聲律(主要轉錄徐理《琴統》)、琴制(主要轉錄《太古遺音》,參看本編第一冊)、字譜及雜說,其中第五卷字譜指法,大部缺佚,僅存首二頁;六至二十五卷,共收琴曲一七〇曲。另一部僅存卷二十二至卷二十五。又一 部僅存卷十《長側》、《短側》兩曲。在現存明代各種譜集中,這是一部收曲最多的傳統曲譜。


(See .jpg version).

7. Collection of 李允中 Li Yunzhong
NFI. Zha Fuxi, ibid, seems to suggest that this collection is now in the Beijing Library, but in 1998 it was reprinted.

Wang Shixiang's footnote 10 in his essay Guangling San says,

"Xilutang Qintong...can only be seen in hand copied versions. Mr. Li Yunzhong of Tianjin has two incomplete volumes in his personal collection. One of the two has Folios 22-25, in a blue-column copy book, copied in the early years of the Qing dynasty. The other lacks "Finger techniques" from Folio 5, has no column pattern (lines?) and was copied rather late. Comparing them, the two volumes column (arrangement?) and size, and the writing style of the characters in the tablature, match completely, and should have been copied from the same manuscript. At the same time one can explain that they still retained the original volume's tablature style."

Whether the copyist of our surviving manuscript successfully reproduced the calligraphic style of the original may be of especial signifance in attempts to date the original (further comment).

8. Qin System of Xu Li (徐理琴統 Xu Li Qin Tong
For more on Xu Li see 琴史續 Qinshi Xu and QSCB, 6a3 (p.91). For his Qin Tong see 琴書存目 Qinshu Cunmu Entry 112 and the discussion from 琴律發微 Qinlü Fawei in QSCB, 6c5 (p.118).

9. Reference to Xilutang Qintong in other early handbooks
This statement is puzzling, specifically the mention of 二香琴譜 Erxiang Qinpu, by 將文勳 Jiang Wenxun. It has a 參考琴譜 Outline of qin handbooks (see QQJC XXIII/83 or the facsimile edition, Folio 1, p.19ff), but as Zha mentions elsewhere it does not include Xilutang Qintong among them; see footnote above. In a later article by Zha Fuxi he suggests Jiang must have acquired it after 1833; the only list I know that clearly includes it is one in Yuguzhai, which lists includes it with the 21 books belonging only to Jiang.

10. 唐皋 Tang Gao (1469-1526) Tang Gao?  
My usual sources do not mention Tang Gao (3714.xxx; Bio. xxx); this is quite puzzling, as Chinese Wikipedia has an extensive entry on a significant Ming dynasty public official named Tang Gao (see 唐皋), complete with the historical image shown at right (details). The Chinese there under the title says, "唐皋狀元及第圖 Image of Tang Gao having passed the imperial exams as Number One Scholar"; the related English explanation with the image itself says, "As the Number One Scholar (狀元} in the ninth year (1514) of Zhengde Emperor in Ming Dynasty, Tang Gao (唐皋, 1469-1526), styled himself as Shouzhi (守之), Xin’an (心庵), and Ziyang hermit (紫陽山人), was born in Yansi town (巖寺鎮), She county (歙縣), Huizhou (徽州府), South Zhili (南直隸)"; the main text says Tang Gao wrote Xin'an two different ways, 心庵 and 新庵. Given his dates, if Zha Fuxi was correct in dating to 1549 the Tang Gao preface to the Xilutang Qintong of 汪芝 Wang Zhi, these would have to be different people. However, evidence from the preface itself shows with certainty that they must be the same person: the Tang Gao who wrote the preface was also from She Xian, the home county of Wang Zhi; the author of the preface mentions specific details about himself that show he must be that public offical Tang Gao; and a careful examination of the preface itself suggests its actual date should be 1525 (see text and image with the next footnote).

Giving its source as Draft History of the Ming (明史稿 Ming Shi Gao 14124.103), the Chinese Wikipedia article says that Tang Gao came from a literati family and that his writings, which included poetry as well as a book about linguistics and philology called 韻府增定, now seem to be lost. In 1514 he became jinshi, having taken first place in the exam (狀元及第); the Tang Gao of the preface had the same success. From 1517 he was a member of the Hanlin Academy (翰林院侍講學士兼經筵講官); the preface mentions 翰林院侍講學士, i.e., Hanlin Academy Academician Expositor-in-waiting. And as an official his career culminated in 1521 when he 任欽差朝鮮正使 became Qinchai Chaoxian Zhengshi (Imperial Envoy abroad to Korea); there also is mention of Chaoxian (Korea) in the Xilutang Qintong preface. (N.B.: Upon hearing of his death apparently several Koreans poets who had exchanged poems with him in Chinese using the same rhyme sequence, including Yi Haeng [李荇 1478-1534] and Chŏng Sa-ryong [鄭士龍 1491-1570], wrote poems in his honor.)

(Special thanks to 唐宸博士 Dr. Tang Chen of Hangzhou University for his help [see also above].)

11. Tang Gao's Preface
Tang Gao's preface is as follows (opening; complete).




Translation above.

12. Date of Xilutang Qintong 己酉 or 乙酉?
The correct date should be the middle of the 7th lunar month, 1525 (August 4th in the current Gregorian calendar). Zha Fuxi, in his own preface to the QQJC edition of Xilutang Qintong (III/一), dates Tang Gao's Preface (III/3; original text) as "嘉靖二十八年己酉(公元一五四九)Jiaqing reign 28th year jiyou (1549)". The Jiaqing reign was 1522-1567, but it was Zha himself who added the "二十八年 28th year"; if the date is read as "嘉靖乙酉 Jiaqing yiyou", the date would be 1525: the calligraphic style of the original (at right) makes it difficult to distinguish between 己酉 jiyou and 乙酉 yiyou.

Did Zha Fuxi's date of 1549 for Xilutang Qintong depend solely on the date of this preface, specifically, on Zha himself (at the time he presumably did not know of the public official Tang Gao) having decided it was 1549? As yet I have not read evidence from elsewhere, but the details above establish quite conclusively that the author of the preface was the same as the public official Tang Gao, suggesting 1525 as a more logical date. What about further evidence either for or against this conclusion? For example, are there any (other) examples of the calligraphy of that Tang Gao (assuming the hand copy we have is accurate)? For that matter, is it possible that Tang Gao wrote it when Wang Zhi was beginning rather than ending his 30 year search for tablature, but it was not published until the compilation was complete? In fact there does not seem to be any evidence to support such a supposition and everything else, such as in Wang Zhi's own Opening Comments (叙論 Xu Lun, support the date of completion being 1525.

13. Largest number of melodies
Does this suggest it was not the repertoire of just one man?

14. Wang Zhi's Opening Comments (叙論 Xu Lun) (III/10; see original text)
The original Chinese of the passage quoted by Zha Fuxi is:

予嘗抗志遺譜,博采諸家,蒐獵頗多積之充揀,乃(析名辨義,揚糠披沙)彙為茲編,冀于反本。 五音六律,比類而附,支分目舉,巨細靡遺,譜曲句子,莫有隱晦。肇自弱冠,迄于二毛,垂三十年,甫克就緒。

This original text begins at the bottom of line 7 of the online text.

Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.