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Qin Shi Xu     首頁
Song Huizong
- Qin Shi Xu #1
宋徽宗 1
琴史續 #1 2
Huizong playing qin 3
The connection of Song emperor Huizong (r. 1101-1126) to the qin is emphasized by the famous painting at right, now in the Palace Museum Beijing. He is variously said to have painted it, and to be the person in the center playing the qin at a table in a garden. This is also perhaps the earliest known depiction of the qin being played at a table. There have also been other paintings that associate Huizong with the qin.

Song emperor Huizong's original name was Zhao Ji (1082 - 1135). He was the 11th son of Emperor Shenzong (r. 1068 - 1086). Shenzong was succeeded by his sixth son Zhao Xu (Emperor Zhezong, 1083 - 1101). When Zhao Xu died without heirs, Zhao Ji became emperor. His activities are discussed in Qinshi Chubian, Chapter 6a5, particularly with regard to collecting qins; the importance of his establishing the Dasheng Fu is discussed in some detail by Rao Zongyi.

An artist himself, Huizong heavily patronized the arts and spent a lot supporting Daoism and Daoist hermits.5 He also engaged in many musical activities other than those involving the qin.6 Perhaps in part because of his passion for the arts he was unable to keep the Jin from conquering northern China.7 In 1126 he abdicated in favor of his eldest son, but the following year the Jin captured them both, ending the Northern Song period.

Clearly Huizong was especially fond of the qin. In addition to playing, he had research on the various types of qin carried out by a music master, Liu Bing.8 His biography mentions only one specific qin by name, Spring Thunder, but there were certainly other famous qins in his 10,000 Qin Pavilion.9 The story relayed suggests that the Jin emperor, who presumably acquired this qin after the Jin overthrew the Song rulers, tried to have it buried with him. It is not clear whether this actually happened then it was subsequently unearthed by Qiao Da,10 and it is also not clear what happened to it after Qiao Da. However, another qin said to have been in Huizong's collection became famous in 2010 for the high price it seems to have commanded at an auction.11

The original essay in Qin Shi Xu is as follows:

Huizong, taboo name 佶 Ji, was the 11th son of 神宗 Shenzong (r. 1068 - 1086). At first he was 端王 Prince Duan. When 哲宗 Zhezong (r. 1083 - 1101) died without heirs he became emperor. He was especially fond of the qin. He searched the country for famous qins, keeping them in his 10,000 Qin Pavilion. He considered one called Spring Thunder, made by the Tang dynasty's Lei Wei to be the best. Spring Thunder was later the main qin in the collection of Jin emperor 章宗 Zhangzong (r. 1190 - 1209), who tried to have it buried with him. However, 18 years later it returned to society, 略無毫髮動, and was in the collection of Qiao Da. He also considered it the best of all qins. And so forth.

More should be added.12

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 宋徽宗 Song Huizong (r. 1101-1126) (Wikipedia)
Born 趙佶 Zhao Ji (1082 - 1135), he was the 11th son of 神宗 Shenzong (r. 1068 - 1086). Shenzong was succeeded by his sixth son 趙煦 Zhao Xu (1076 - 1101), who reigned as 哲宗 (1086-1101).

2. Six lines; sources given in Qin Shi Xu are:

  1. 宋史 Song Shi
  2. 雲煙過眼錄 Yunyan Guoyan Lu (43170.263 [Song])

3. This painting, called Listening to the Qin (聽琴圖 Ting Qin Tu), can also be seen in various art books, for example, Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting, p.122. Its commentary says that the two listeners are high officials, including the prime minister, 蔡京 Cai Jing (1046 - 1126), who wrote the poetic inscription at the top. The original text of the inscription is:


There is more mention of Huizong's painting, with examples, in his Wikipedia entry.

4. There are further examples of his painting linked from his Wikipedia entry. (Return)

5. References needed. (Return)

6. See for example the story of Liu Bing related below.

7. 金代 Jin dynasty
Not being Han they are cast as intruders but their support for Chinese culture is well documented. For music see Rao.

8. 劉昺 Liu Bing
劉昺 Liu Bing (Bio/629) was a 大司樂 Music Master in the court of Huizong. The Music Annals of the Song Dynastic History say that Huizong ordered Liu Bing to find out what different sorts of qins there were. Liu Bing found five types: one-string, three-string, five-string, seven-string and nine-string. All were in the silk-string category.

9. 10,000 Qin Pavilion (萬琴堂 Wan Qin Tang)

10. Qiao Da 喬達
Qiao Da (4114.67) was a member of the Hanlin Academy during the Yuan dynasty. (Return)

11. Auctioned qin said to have belonged to Song Huizong (expand) 松石間意 Songshi Jianyi and its box      
A guqin named (The Idea of) Stones among the Pine Trees (松石間意 Songshi Jianyi), once in the collection of Song Huizong then later belonging to the Qing dynaty Qianlong emperor (1711-1799), who inscribed it and had a special case made to contain it, is said to be the most expensive acoustic instrument ever sold: in December 2010 at a Poly International Auction in Beijing for over US$20,000,000. The provenance is interesting and apparently accepted, but some have questioned whether this was really the actual sale price.

If such antiques are to go into private collections Chinese law apparently requires them to be put on public display for five years after sale, but as of 2018 this guqin was aooarenntly still on exhibit at the Poly Art Museum in their office complex in Beijing. When I saw it there in 2015 I was underwhelmed: except for the inscriptions its appearance did not seem exceptional, particularly the lacquer on the qin top; perhaps this was due to the light in the museum and the fact that the instrument was behind glass. (Images are copied from various internet websites that don't give their sources.)

12. Further
For another painting attributed to Huizong see Dao Yi Qu.

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