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Chapter Six: Song and Yuan dynasties (cont.) 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, p. 92-3

6.A. Qin Specialists (cont.) 2

4. Qin Experts of the Jin and Yuan Dynasties 3



During the period of confrontation between north and south, the center of qin circles was the Zhejiang school of the Southern Song dynasty. However, the northern Jin (1115-1260) and Yuan (1280-1368) dynasties, under the influence of Han culture, also had quite a few qin experts. Most outstanding of these were Miao Xiushi and Yelü Chucai.

Miao Xiushi4 (?-1232), literary name Yanshi, style name Qiyan (Cliff-Perched), was from Pingyang (in Shanxi). As a child, while studying qin from Yi Junzhang,5 he received rigorous training: "When first taught fingering, coins were piled on the back of his hands, prohibiting careless movement, so that not even one note would be changed." He took the Jinshi examination twice, but did not pass. After this he engaged only in qin studies.

The literati-official class in the capital6 all respected [Miao's] great performing skills. During the Taihe reign (1201-1208) he was recommended as a Qin Daizhao (Qin [Player] Awaiting Imperial Command7) [and] received a certain amount of attention from the Jin dynasty's Zhangzong emperor, Wanyan Jing.8 From over 100 traditional qin tablatures he "selected the ones which had an ancient mood and made a compilation of them," editing them under the title Qin Bian.9 Yuan Yishan (Yuan Haowen10) wrote for him a Qinbian Yin Preface.11

Yelü Chucai12 (1190-1244), literary name Jinqing, style name Zhanranjushi (Profound Retired Scholar), was an 8th generation descendent of the Eastern Liao Cinnabar Prince (Danwang) [Yelü?] Tuyu.13 He served the Yuan rulers14 to the rank of Zhongshuling.15 He studied the qin from Mi Dayong,16 Miao Xiushi,17 (see above), Old Man Wan Song18 and so forth, playing many qin pieces, being especially good at Shui Xian.19 His poetic writings had many references to qin players and qin pieces, and these are important historical references to the qin conditions in his day.

Each time [Yelü Chucai] acquired a new tablature, he would always want to find Miao Xiushi, "study the profound [musical] ideas, and then play (the melody)." But because Miao's reputation among the capital masters was very high, "palace princes, nobles and great men invited [Miao, and he] had no time to himself." Eventually Yelü Chucai could no longer with him often "learn the music by playing face to face," and so "each one regretted this."

After Yelü Chucai entered service under the Yuan, he strongly recommended Miao Xiushi to Yuan Shizu [Kublai Khan]. [Then,] after the Yuan army had crossed the Yellow River and smashed through Tongguan,20 he sent people everywhere searching for [Miao's] whereabouts. Finally in Nanjing (today's Kaifeng) they found the aged Miao Xiushi, [but] while they were accompanying him on the road north he died at Fanyang (the modern Zhuo county of Hebei).21

Miao Lan,22 the son of Miao Xiushi, gathered up 44 tablatures bequeathed by his father, and invited Yelü Chucai to write a preface. In the preface Yelü Chucai said, "I have tested these, and consider them the definitive sounds. Most probably they were passed down by the Music Department Officer Wei Zhongru."23 Wei Zhongru was a palace qin master during time of the Jin dynasty's Xizong emperor (r.1137-48), Wanyan Dan.24 Miao Lan obtained his father's tradition, and also [himself] had very good qin-playing skills. [When] Yelü Chucai, as part of the official retinue on a royal hunt,25 injured his leg, he used the opportunity of his recovery period to play more than 50 pieces together with Miao Lan, "and in this way completely attain the profound beauty of [Miao] Qiyan's private touch."

[Yelü Chucai] felt that Miao's performance "was like the excitement of the steep slopes of Shu (Sichuan), pleasing people's senses." When he originally heard the Guangling San of Zhang Qizhi,26 every time he got to the sections from Chensi [Sink into Thought, Sec. 15] to Junji [Great Action, Sec. 28], always his "rhythms would not be lucid;" but Miao would play it straight through "in one coherent whole." Making a comparison, Yelü Chucai felt that performances of Miao Xiushi's qin pieces really had unique qualities.27 At the same time, this also shows that Yelü Chucai used a lot of time and energy at qin learning, and had great powers of discrimination.

(Continue with Emperors addicted to qin)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Chapter 6 covers these dynasties (dates, capital city [modern name]):

Northern Song (960-1126; Dongjing [Kaifeng])
Liao (907-1125; Dading Fu [Daning?])
Southern Song (1127-1280; Linan Fu [Hangzhou])
Jin (1115-1260; Zhongdu [Beijing])
Yuan (1206-1280-1368; Dadu [Beijing])

2. Translation by JT.

3. 金元琴家 Jin Yuan Qinjia

4. Miao Xiushi 苗秀實
31521.xxx; 字彥實 literary name Yanshi, 號棲岩 style name Qiyan (Cliff-Perched); his home region 平陽 Pingyang is in today's 山西臨汾 Linfen county of [southwest] Shanxi province. See his biography in Qinshi Xu - the quote below comes from there; see also Van Gulik, Lore of the Chinese Lute, footnotes on pp. 76, 78, 83, where, referred to only by his style name, he is said to have represented the Sichuan (Shu) style. He became the main teacher of Yelü Chucai (q.v.)

5. Yi Junzhang 扆君章
12016.xxx. Teacher of Miao Xiushi in 平陽 Pingyang? Compare 喬扆 Qiao Yi.

6. Beijing, then called 燕 Yan.

7. Qin Daizhao (琴待詔 Qin [Player] Awaiting Imperial Command)
See Chapter 6a1.

8. Wanyan Jing, Zhangzong emperor 金章宗,完顔璟
Wanyan Jing (Giles has Wanyan Gong) 7227.229 完顏璟 was 44703.45/3 顯宗嫡子 a son of Xianzong by his legitimate wife. Wanyan Jing reigned as the Zhangzong emperor 1190-1209; he was well educated, but then became debauched.

Wanyan Family Qin Tablature (完顏氏琴譜 Wanyanshi Qinpu)
Wanyan was the surname of the Jin dynasty (1115 - 1234) ruling family. According to Rao Zongyi (see especially
Section 3), the imperial qin tablature was called Wanyan Family Qin Tablature, and this was comparable to the Song dynasty royal family's Inner Chamber Tablature" (Gepu).

9. Qin Distinctions (琴辨 Qin Bian)
This essay by Miao Xiushi is apparently lost; see mention of its preface, below.

10. Yuan Haowen 元好問 (1190-1257)
See further.

11. Preface to Qin Distinctions (琴辨引 Qin Bian Yin)
This preface, by Yuan Haowen, is included in QSDQ, Folio 18.

12. Yelü Chucai 耶律楚材
29648.116. See also Giles, Chinese Biographical Dictionary, #2446, and R.H. Van Gulik, ibid., footnotes on pp. 78 and 83.

13. 遼東丹王突欲 Liaodong Danwang Tuyu

14. The Yuan had captured Beijing in 1215. Jin were Jürchen, related to Manchus. Liao were Khitan, who originated in what is today northern Inner Mongolia ("Siramuren Valley"). Yelü was the surname of the Khitan Liao rulers, who ruled north China 907-1125. Was Tuyu related to Yelü Tulubu 29648.65, son of .164?

15. 中書令 Zhongshuling
Hucker: Secretariat Director

16. Mi Dayong
9988.xxx; mentioned under Yelü Chucai and discussed in Van Gulik as Mi-Ta (pp. 76, 78, 83), where it says he played Zhejiang style, and that Yelü Chucai later abandoned this style for the Sichuan style of Qiyan [Miao Xiushi - reference given is Zhanranjushi Wenji.]

17. Qin technique of Miao Xiushi
Van Gulik, ibid., p.78, fn.171, translates Yelü Chucai's Two Poems on my Loving the Qin Technique of Master Qiyan (i.e. Miao Xiushi). These include the following phrases advocating simplicity in qin play,

  1. "Frequent use of vibrato ritardando (rou [nao]) confuses the melody, frequent use of other vibrato (yin) leads to a lax style."
  2. "Frequent application of vibrato (yin rou) grates upon the ears of the listener."

18. 萬松老人 Wansong Laoren (Old Man of 10,000 Pines)
25455.262/xxx; mentioned under Yelü Chucai (seefootnote); Van Gulik pp. 76, 78, 83.

19. Shui Xian 水仙 (Water Immortals)
This title usually is connected to a story of Boya and Cheng Lian. The earliest extant version is the Shuixian Qu in Wuyin Qinpu (1579).

20. Where the Wei river meets the Yellow river.

21. About 50 km southwest of Beijing.

22. 31521.xxx; cf. Qinshi Xu #1030.

23. Wei Zhongru 衛仲儒
Wei Zhongru 34896.xxx, a大率署令 Music Department Officer, was a 宮廷琴師 palace qin master during reign of the Jin dynasty's Xizong emperor (r.1137-48; see next).

24. Jin Xizong Wanyan Dan 金熙宗,完顏亶
The Jin Xizong emperor Wanyan Dan ruled 1137——1148. See Giles.

25. Lit., "feather hunt," but Tong suggests yu "feather" mistaken for yu "royal".

26. See 張器之 Zhang Qizhi (13th c. CE).

27. Xu Jian's references are,
    "Miao Xiushi Qinpu Xu" [???; Qinshu Cunmu #153 lists a Qinpu by Miao Yanshi];
    "Haihong Liaozui Mo" [17933.xxx; this ref. also given in Qinshi Xu #1029;] and
    "Chunhu Manlu" [32430.xxx; 32500.7: Chunhu, a lake in Jiangsu or Hunan; cf. Qinshi Xu #1029/30].

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