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- Qin Shi #122
琴史 #122 2
Li Mian describes a Sima Xiangru qin 3
As the chart of Li Mian's relationship to the early Tang emperors shows (below),8 he was a great-grandson of Li Yuanyi, Prince of Zheng,9 making him a fourth generation descendant of the founder of the Tang dynasty, Li Yuan.10 Li Mian himself became Duke of Qian, in which capacity he served in a number of places under four emperors, Xuanzong, Suzong,11 Daizong12 and Dezong.13
Qinshu Cunmu #49 quotes extensively from a Qin Talk attributed to Li Mian, but apparently lost.14
Qinshu Daquan (1585) quotes him extensively in several places (perhaps drawing on a Ming dynasty work called 太平御覽 Taiping Yulan).15
In the aforementioned Taiping Yulan, in a chapter called 琴下 Qin Xia from 樂部十七 Music Section 17, there is the following very similar passage, said to be a quote from "國史補 Guo Shi Bu" (by 李肇 Li Zhao of the Tang dynasty),
Li Mian is also quoted in Qinyuan Yaolu III.
A melody named Jing Guan Yin, quite popular in the Qing dynasty, was sometimes attributed to him. None of the other materials about him seem to mention this melody.16
Li Mian had a nephew named Li Kuangwen, author of a book called Xixia.17 Perhaps this is the book referred to by Van Gulik, when he writes that Li Mian is said to have invented a technique for making artificial fingernails out of bamboo.18 Although these may have become quite popular, they were criticised on the basis that they "rejected the true for the false".
The original biography says,19
He made qin that were widely prized. The chronicles of musicians say that ones named 響泉 Xiang Quan and 韻磬 Yun Qing were loved by 勉 Mian. It was also said of the qins he made, whenever he found new or old 桐 tong wood he would knock on it. The ones with harmonious sound he would cut and put together (to make) the so-called 百衲琴 baina qins (because they were each made from 100 pieces of wood). Xiang Quan and Yun Qing, the first string could be on it for 10 years without breaking. His tools were the very best. If you were not one of those people deeply into qin how could you compare this? Only people like Xi Kang and Dai Kui can do so. Later, 張茂樞 Zhang Maoqu (d. 906; Bio/1281) obtained these two qins....
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Li Mian 李勉 references
14819.877 ; Bio/911. Style name 元卿 Yuanqing; 汧公 Duke of Qian.
Qin Shi #122
Although my edition of Qin Shi has Li Mian in the ToC, calling him 李丞相勉 Prime Minister Li Mian, the actual text has only the latter part of his entry, placed under #120 Fang Gong. After 10 characters in that entry there is a gap. The text then skips all of #121 張鎬 Zhang Gao, resuming about a quarter of the way into Li Mian's biography (based on its entry in Qinshu Daquan, Folio 15, #18 (V.326), where it is 14 lines long.
Commentary by Li Mian with an Illustration of a Sima Xiangru qin
Scanned from QQJC V/113; one of the images mentioned above.
李世民 Li Shimin, 唐太宗 Tang Taizong emperor
(r.626-649; see early Tang chart)
There are only indirect musical references, such as here, when he says that sad songs cannot undermine good government.
李治 Li Zhi, 唐高宗 Tang Gaozong emperor
(r.649-683; see early Tang chart)
李隆基 Li Longji, 唐玄宗 Tang Xuanzong emperor
(r. 713 - 756; in early Tang chart)
Also called the 明皇 Minghuang emperor, 李隆基 Li Longji (685 - 762) divided his reign into two periods, 開元 Kai Yuan (712-742) and 天寶 Tian Bao (743-756). The whole reign was noted for its early brilliance and later decadence, as epitomized by his infatuation with his concubine Yang Guifei. In 756, when An Lushan revolted and captured the capital, Chang An, Xuanzong's troops insisted that Yang Guifei be executed. After the An Lushan was defeated Xuanzong went into retirement, dying in 762.
Thus, Hsu Wen-ying, The Ku-ch'in, p.18, says guqin solo playing was neglected by Minghuang and during his reign. Nevertheless, there are a number of references on this site which mention him. These include:
From these references it can be seen that, although there are more Xuanzong qin references than Taizong ones, again they tend to be tangential (concerning stories, not suggestions that he may have played himself).
武則天 Wu Zetian, 武后 Empress Wu
(624-690-705; see early Tang chart)
Li Mian within the Tang imperial family
This chart shows the relationship between Li Mian and the Tang emperors through Xuanzong. Links to English names are to English Wikipedia entries, links to the Chinese characters are to Chinese Wikipedia entries.
|Founder||2nd generation||3rd generation||4th generation||5th generation|
||李淵 Li Yuan (566-635)
高祖 Gaozu (618-626)
|李世民 Li Shimin (599-649)
太宗 Taizong (626-649)
|李治 Li Zhi (628-683)
高宗 Gaozong (649-683)
& Wu Zetian (624-690-705)
|李隆基 Li Longji (685-762)
玄宗 Xuanzong (712-756)
||李元懿 Li Yuanyi (~620-673), 鄭王 Prince of Zheng
||李璿 Li Xuan (<730-774)
南海公 Duke of Nanhai
|李擇言 Li Zeyan
Duke of Ande
|李勉 Li Mian (717-788)
汧公 Duke of Qian;
son: 李約 Li Yue
李元懿 Li Yuanyi
鄭王元懿 , Yuanyi, Prince of Zheng, was the 13th son of 李淵 Li Yuan, founder of the Tang dynasty.
李淵 Li Yuan (565-635; Wiki:
Founder of the Tang dynasty, Li Yuan ruled as 唐高祖 Tang Emperor Gaozu from 618 to 627, when he abdicated in favor of his son, Li Shimin. I have not yet found any stories connecting Li Yuan to the guqin.
李世民 Li Shimin (598-649; Wiki: Emperor Taizong)
Li Shimin ruled from 626 - 649 as the 唐太宗 Tang Taizong emperor. The reliablity of any stories mentioned on this site connecting him to the qin is uncertain. (Search this site and/or see 18 Scholars Ascend Yingzhou.)
肅宗 Suzong (r. 756-762
李亭 Li Ting (711 - 762), the third son of Xuanzong. No known qin references (search this site).
代宗 Daizong (r. 762-779
李豫 Li Yu (727 - 779), the eldest son of Suzong. No known qin references (search this site).
德宗 Dezong (r.779-805
Li Shi (742-805), the eldest son of Daizong. No known qin references (search this site).
Qin Talk, 1 folio (琴說一卷 Qin Shuo)
See Qinshu Cunmu, Entry 49 (Folio II, p. 13).
太平御覽 Taiping Yulan (Wiki: Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era)
This encyclopedic work was compiled on imperial order at the beginning of the Song dynasty. The online version on the China Text Project site has 1000 chapters in 55 sections; the music section is in 22 chapters (563 to 584), of which its chapters 15, 16 and 17 (577 to 579) specifically concern qin. All three chapters seem to consist entirely of quotations from earlier sources.
靜觀吟 Jing Guan Yin
See separate page.
李匡文 Li Kuangwen
Bio/966, 李匡文 Li Kuangwen, style name 濟翁 Jiweng, wrote a 資暇 Zixia (see next footnote).
Artificial fingernails of bamboo (削竹為甲)
Van Gulik, in Lore, p.120, footnote 86; the footnote, a history of the artificial fingernail, is quoted in full elsewhere.
Not yet online. Note the comment above about the gap in Qin Shi at that point.
Return to QSCB, or to the Guqin ToC.