Shen Qi Mi Pu
 T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
Handbook List   pdf of 3rd Edition as in Qinqu Jicheng 解題、小標題   /   可能配合音樂的歌詞  /   首頁
Shen Qi Mi Pu
The Handbook of Spiritual and Marvelous Mysteries 2
神奇秘譜 1
  Comparing the 3rd (left) and 2nd (right) editions 3        
Shen Qi Mi Pu (1425 CE), full title Qu Xian Shen Qi Mi Pu, is the oldest surviving qin handbook,4 earlier surviving tablature including only a single melody or short modal preludes.5 Shen Qi Mi Pu, by contrast, has 64 pieces; none has lyrics.6 Its full title is Qu Xian Shen Qi Mi Pu, The Emaciated Immortal's Handbook of Spiritual and Marvelous Mysteries. Emaciated Immortal was a nickname of Zhu Quan, a son of the first emperor of the Ming dynasty. Translation of the entire text is linked from the Shen Qi Mi Pu Table of Contents; for transcriptions and recordings of all the music see My recordings and transcriptions.

For further information about Shen Qi Mi Pu, see: (請看中文)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Shen Qi Mi Pu 神奇秘譜127
The full title, as on the image above, is 臞仙神奇秘譜 Qu Xian Shen Qi Mi Pu, Quxian ("Emaciated Immortal") being a nickname for Zhu Quan. "臞 Qu" it could also be translated by such words as "gaunt" (the "gaunt transcendent"); there is more regarding the translation of "仙 xian" under Transcendant Venerable One.

At a recent auction Christie's had on offer this image of "a Chinese rootwood carving of an emaciated immortal (19th century)".

25211.127 has only 神奇. The Qinshu Cunmu mention of its listing in the Tianyige book catalogue suggests that references to this book were not necessarily correct.

2. Handbook of Spiritual and Marvelous Mysteries
There have been a number of other translations of the title. Some of these are discussed in the General introduction.

3. Image: Comparing Different Editions of Shen Qi Mi Pu
There were three known editions of Shen Qi Mi Pu;

  1. First edition: published 1425
  2. Second edition: published during Jiaqing (1522 - 1567)
  3. Third edition: published during Wanli (1573-1620).

It is not clear on what basis it is generally assumed that the first edition was printed rather than hand-copied, but the explosion in Chinese book publishing probably began only during the Jiaqing period. Thus, any first edition printing of Shen Qi Mi Pu would probably have been in a very limited edition, hence only second and third editions were likely to have survived. Nevertheless, according to the analysis of Tong Kin-Woon, the three editions of Shen Qi Mi Pu should be virtually identical, some even using printing plates from earlier editions. But as he points out, the second and third editions do have at least three differences from each other:

  1. In the first folio there are a few differences in added punctuation (details).
  2. At the end of the first folio the 2nd edition added the line marked in red in the image above (details).
  3. In the table of contents there is one misprint each in the second and third editions (details)

Tong Kin-Woon discussed these differences within the context of not having seen the edition preserved in Japan.

Modern reprints of the 3rd edition are quite readily available. I am not aware of reprints of the 2nd edition after 1963. There seem to be no surviving copies of the first edition. Modern reprints of Shen Qiu Mi Pu include the following:

  1. 神奇秘譜,北京,音樂出版社,1956. Facsimile reprint of Shen Qi Mi Pu 3rd edition. Several times reprinted.
  2. 琴曲集成,北京,中華書局,1963. Qinqu Jicheng original series has SQMP 2nd edition.
  3. 唐健垣(編)﹕琴府。台北,1971 (reprinted 1981). Qin Fu; has SQMP 3rd edition.
  4. 琴曲集成,北京古琴研究會,文化部文學藝術研究院音樂研究所(編)﹕   北京 \ 上海,中華書局出版社,1981/2010.
    Qinqu Jicheng, Vol. I (1981, reprinted 2010) has SQMP 3rd edition.

To my knowledge the only complete translation into English is my own (on this website). I have also published the only complete set of transcriptions and of recordings.

4. Date of Shen Qi Mi Pu original edition
This statement (see also the previous footnote) is based on the evidence that the first edition of Shen Qi Mi Pu (none survive) was identical to the surviving second and third editions (virtually identical to each other). Surviving 2nd edition originals are in Tokyo (at the 內閣文庫 Naikaku Bunko, now the National Archives of Japan) and in Taipei (National Library; Bell Yong, Celestial Airs of Antiquity mistakenly places this in Beijing). A surviving 3rd edition is in Shanghai (the City Library?).

5. Qin tablature published before 1425
Some tablature published after 1425 was probably copied from earlier tablature, but what survives in actual pre-1425 publications consists of:
        You Lan,
        Gu Yuan,
        Shilin Guangji (kaizhi plus five short modal preludes), and
        Taiyin Daquanji (five short modal preludes).
Of these, You Lan and Gu Yuan are single melodies so their publications are not handbooks; the latter melodies are so short that they are considered melody collections.

6. Number of melodies
The 64 pieces consist of 15 titled melodies and one kaizhi (a type of modal prelude) in folio 1, plus 34 titled melodies and 14 modal preludes in folios 2 and 3.

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