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Zhong Ziqi
- Qin Shi #39
鍾子期 1
琴史 #39 2
Ziqi sees what Boya plays 3
Zhong Ziqi, sometimes called Zhong Qi, sometimes Ziqi,4 here seems to be a gentleman, like the man with whom he is famously associated, Bo Ya; the picture at right is in keeping with this description. However, the story best known today describes Ziqi as an ordinary woodcutter,5 nevertheless able to recognize what was in the heart of Bo Ya as he played the qin. When Ziqi died, Bo Ya broke the strings of his qin and never played again.6 He felt that in life you were lucky to find one person who understand you. He had found that person in Ziqi, so when Ziqi died, there was no reason to play the qin any more.

This story is in particular connected to the qin melodies Gao Shan (High Mountains) and Liu Shui (Flowing Streams). The qin song Boya Diao Ziqi focuses on their friendship.

In this biography Zhong Ziqi is said to be from Chu, related to a man named Zhong Yi who in 582 BCE was imprisoned by Duke Cheng of Jin, a state to the north of Chu. This suggests that Ziqi was not an ordinary woodcutter, as sometimes later depicted. It also connects to stories that Boya himself was from Chu, but lived much of his life in Jin.7

Qin illustration 11 in Taiyin Daquanji says it is a depiction of Zhong Ziqi's qin. It also has the rather surprising comment that Ziqi was a small business man.

The biography of Zhong Ziqi in Qin Shi is as follows.8

Zhong Ziqi, a man of Chu and a relative of Zhong Yi (#35), was a friend of Boya (#38). When Boya played the qin Zhong Ziqi was a good listener. When Boya was focussed on Mount Tai, Ziqi said, Wonderful, as grand as Mount Tai. When Boya's focus was flowing streams Ziqi said, Vast and swelling, like flowing streams. Whatever Boya described Ziqi attained.

When Boya traveled on the north side of Mount Tai and met heavy rain he stopped below a cliff, took out his qin and played it. First it was Continuous Rain Lament,9 then it was Crashing Mountains Melody.10 Each time he played Ziqi completely understood. Boya then set aside his qin and sighed, saying, Wonderful. When you listen it is like our hearts are resonating together. How can my thoughts escape like this? When Ziqi died Boya split apart his qin, broke his strings and never played again, because at that time there could never be another person who could understand his music.

Once when Ziqi at night heard someone strike a bell the sound was sad. When he called the player over and asked why the sound was sad the answer was, My father killed someone and is imprisoned but not yet executed. My mother has been captured and made a slave by a master. I am captured and am playing a bell for this master. I hadn't seen my mother for three years, then last night I suddenly saw her. I would like to buy her from slavery but I have no money, so she is still with the master's family. This is my sadness. Ziqi said, Sadness is in the heart, not in the hands, not in the wood, not in the stone. If there is sadness in the man, then the wood and stone respond to that. This is the reason.

So Ziqi understood sounds in general, not just on the qin....

(Lines 14 to 19 not yet translated.)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Zhong Ziqi 鍾子期
41566.4 (not 41760.x 鐘子期) tells the story of his meeting with Bo Ya. Says also to consult 知音 zhiyin (24483.114) and 流水高山 Liu Shui Gao Shan (17762.20). None of these mentions Ziqi being a woodcutter. Sources mentioned are 列子,湯文、新序,雜事四、淮南子修務訓、說苑,尊賢。 (Return)

2. Folio 2, #13; 19 lines. (Return)

3. This image came from one page of the website of the Kamakura Qin Society (in Japanese). (Return)

4. 41566.100 鍾期 Zhong Qi says Zhong Ziqi and gives two references to the Boya story. (Return)

5. Ziqi as Woodcutter (樵人 Qiao Ren)
Qiaoren (15945.1; no mention of Ziqi) can also be translated as fuel-gatherer. Many of the Boya - Ziqi stories told today call Ziqi a woodcutter, drawing on the fact that Chinese tradition, though it greatly emphasized scholarship, at the same time promoted the idea of people living in nature who understood life without book learning. Such knowledge was particularly ascribed to fishermen and woodcutters. On the other hand, the present biography makes no mention of Ziqi being a woodcutter, suggesting instead that he was a gentleman. This is in line with both the image above and the one here called Boya Playing the Qin. And none of the earliest commentaries on melodies related to Zhong Ziqi mentions his being a woodcutter. In fact the commentary describing Ziqi's qin suggests he was a small business man. (Return)

6. Compare Dai Kui, said to have broken the whole instrument (in the Japanese illustration there he is also using an axe). (Return)

7. Is this the source of stories that Boya himself was from Chu? The story also mentions 泰山 Mount Tai, in Shandong province. (Return)

8. Original text
The original Chinese text is as follows:





Compare this account here to the one with the melody Gao Shan, particularly the quote from the book of Liezi.

9. Continuous Rain Lament (霖雨之操 Lin Yu zhi Cao)
43275.3 Lin Yu says it can also be 恩澤之謂 used to refer to an officially bestowed favor; no mention of music. Lin Yu Cao is included on a list in Qinshu Daquan, Folio 11. (Return)

10. Crashing Mountains Melody (崩山之音 Beng Shan zhi Yin)
8398.1 Beng Shan identifies this as a qin melody mentioned in 列子,湯文 Liezi, Tang Wen. A. C. Graham, p. 110, translates 更造崩山之音 as "then he improvised the sound of crashing mountains". Note that Qinshu Daquan, Folio 13 lists a Collapsing Walls Lament (Beng Cheng Cao 崩城操). The commentary connects this with the Great Wall. 8398.15 defines beng cheng as "walls collapsing", but gives no musical reference. (Return)

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