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Chapter Six: Song and Yuan dynasties (cont.) 1
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, p. 93-4

6.A. Qin Specialists (cont.) 2

5. Emperors Addicted to the Qin 3



Emperors throughout the Song and Yuan dynasties were generally qin lovers. As the highest authorities of those times, their fondness naturally became a source of promotion and encouragement. They also put in action a position called Qin Daizhao (Qin [Player] Awaiting Imperial Command), preserved well-known tablature collections scattered in various places, and all had a certain positive significance. However, their promoting qin always was coming from rulers' particular needs, and thus brought along with the development of qin studies some negative influences.

The Song Taizong Emperor, Zhao Kuangyi4 (r. 976-997), in the first year of his Zhidao era (995), "constructed a qin with the strings increased to nine, a ruan [lute] with five strings,5 and new tablature in 37 folios." He ordered the Daizhao Zhu Wenji6 and Cai (Zhao) Yi7 to give performances for the people and obtained "several dozen people from China and outside8 to offer poems of praise." After this emperors of every period followed the example of Song Taizong, thinking up many schemes to change the qin, from a one string qin and two string qin up to the nine string qin, and so forth. These unrealistic modified qins could only be used in ceremonies and sacrifices, and were not accepted by the qin world9 (further analysis.)

The (Song) Gaozong Emperor [1127-63] Zhao Gou [1107-87], who occupied only the southern part of China, also had a qin especially made in the shape of a shield to send to his vassals, to show that he was not forgetting military affairs.

"Inner chamber tablature" (gepu10) was the name for qin tablatures used by the imperial family, collected in their private inner chambers. After Taizong [this practice] was gradually abandoned. Coming to the Huangyou period (1049-53)11 qin tablatures again were brought into the private inner chambers. At that time there were many tablatures passed on among the people, but the palace considered only gepu to be valuable. Tablatures which had not gone through verification by the Dasheng Yuefu (Great Splendor Music Repository, 1102-6)12 could not be brought into the imperial range. During the Shaoxing period (1131-62)13 it was even discovered that the situation was, "if it wasn't a volume from the private apartments, it couldn't serve [i.e., be played for the emperor." These sorts of regulations by the royal court could only make the gepu even more separate from the masses, becoming something moribund, so that it was later replaced by the people's lively and vigorous Jiang-Xi music (Jiang-xi pu).14 (Yuan Jue, Qinshu Zeng Huang Yiran15)

The Song Huizong Emperor (1101-25) Zhao Ji16 [1082-1135] advantageously used his power to (order people such as Liu Bing to) "search north and south for famous qins of outstanding quality", in order to fulfill his favorite hobby.17 Also, he especially set up a "10,000 Qin Hall" (Wanqin Tang18) in order to store up these famous qins. Among these the most famous was called Spring Thunder (Chunlei).19 It was made by the famous Tang dynasty craftsman Lei Wei.20 Later, when the capital was attacked by the Jin dynasty, this Wanqin Tang fell into the hands of the Jin dynasty rulers (see Jin Zhangzong, next paragraph).

Many Jin dynasty emperors were also fond of the qin. Among these the (Jin) Zhangzong Emperor (1190-1208) Wanyan Jing especially stands out. He greatly appreciated the playing of Miao Xiushi, and appointed him Daizhao in the Hanlin academy.21 He also highly valued the famous qin called Chunlei, designating it his "number one qin in the royal repository," and being inseparable from it, to the extent that on his deathbed he still "held it in order to take it to the grave."22 This fond attachment to the qin was even stronger than that of Zhao Ji.

The [then] Song heir apparent Zhao Hong23 in 1221, because he was fond of the qin, brought disaster [on himself]. The powerful official Shi Miyuan24 used Zhao Hong's fondness for the qin to offer him a beautiful woman who was a good qin player. After she found out that [Zhao Hong] had unfavorable opinions of [Shi Miyuan], he used a secret plot to have Zhao Hong's position canceled, instead setting up an imperial descendent obedient to his own ideas, the future Lizong Emperor.25

The Lizong Emperor's wife was Empress Xie. She ruled on behalf of the last emperor, Duzong, and brought the Southern Song dynasty to an end. The people26 detained in the Yuan capital as prisoners of war, never forgetting their pleasure-seeking, also had to bring along the qin master Wang Yuanliang as retainer.

These affairs clearly show that during the Song and Yuan dynasties the appreciation of qin music had become an aspect that could not be missing from the lives of the emperors.

(Go on to melodies or return to Song and Yuan dynasties)

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. Translated by JT

3. 嗜琴的皇帝 Shi Qin de Huangdi

4. 939-997; Zhao Kuangyi was his original name, but his brother Kuangyin, who founded the empire, changed the name to Zhao Huang.

5. Today the ruan still commonly has four strings.

6. Zhu Wenji 朱文濟
A qin daizhao? See in Qin Shi.

7. Cai (Zhao) Yi 蔡(趙)裔
Xu Jian apparently means that this source incorrectly referred to Zhao Yi as Cai Yi.

8. This probably refers in large part to northern areas where there were many Chinese-speaking people, such as the Liao empire.

9. "Song Shi, Yuezhi" (Song History, Music Annals).

10. Gepu 閣譜 (Inner chamber tablature)
Gepu (42230.xxx) is also mentioned in Chapter 6b2 and discussed in Chapter 6c2. It is not yet clear to me to what extent this term refers to a collection of tablature, to a collection of melodies, or a style of qin play (see the description by Rao, especially in Section 2). During the Southern Song it was apparently preserved in the north as Wanyan family tablature.

11. During the Renzong Emperor's reign (1023-64).

12. Great Splendor Music Repository (大晟樂府 Dasheng Yuefu; 1102-6)
This is presumably related to or the same as the 大晟府 Dasheng Fu discussed in some detail under Song emperor Huizong but given the dates 1103-1120.

13. During the Gaozong Emperor's reign (1127-63).

14. River-West Tablature (Jiang-Xi Pu 江西譜)
Although "Jiang-xi Pu" literally means "Jiang-xi tablature", it is not clear to what extent this term specifies a particular notated form of a melody, or the melodies themselves. The term for this music and/or tablature style is used by Yuan Jue in an essay called Qin Narration, part of his Qingrong Jushi Ji. Rao Zongyi discusses it his Song dynasty music article, Section 2, and Xu Jian discusses it in his chapter 6c2. As yet I have not been able to find Yuan Jue's original essay. Jiang-xi pu not to be confused with the Ming dynasty Jiang school, often contrasted with a Zhe School.

15. Yuan Jue, Qin Shu, zeng Huang Yiran 袁桷,琴述,贈黃依然
Xu Jian discusses Qin Shu in QSCB, Chapter 6.C. (p. 115). The full title seems to be Qin Narration, presented to Huang Yiran (see under Yuan Jue).

16. Huizong was particularly noteworthy for his support of all arts.

17. "Search north and south for famous qins of outstanding quality"
Xu Jian, p.94: "搜羅南北名琴絕品". Xu Jian puts this in quotes without giving a source. Likewise this phrase is very widespread on the internet but I have yet to find an attribution.

18. 10,000 Qin Hall" (萬琴堂 Wan Qin Tang
25455.xxx. As with the phrase in the previous footnote, Xu Jian puts it in quotes but gives no source. Likewise the name is widely cited on the internet without attribution. And although in this case it is actually mentioned in the biography, it does not seem to be mentioned in either of its two listed sources.

19. Spring Thunder (春雷 Chunlei or Chun Lei)
This qin, said to have been made by the famous Tang dynasty craftsman Lei Wei, was apparently part of the imperial collection during reign of emperor Huizong at the end of the northern Song dynasty; when the dynasty fell it went into the collection of Jin emperor Zhangzhong. According to (Song) Zhou Mi, Yunyan Guo Yanlu, it was buried with Zhangzong, then dug up 18 years later undamaged. See also Rao, Section 3. Zheng Mingzhong in Beijing has one which he claims is this instrument, but the evidence for this is not conclusive (see reference). Several other qin called Chun Lei also exist today. Mentioned in a poem by Yuan Jue.

20. 43196.79; see in Qin Shi Bu.

21. Somewhat like the French C.N.R.S., the Hanlin academy was a group of recognized scholars.

22. For Spring Thunder see above.

23. 38015.441; taizi, "imperial descendants", were "descended from the founder of the dynasty through the male line."

24. Shi Miyuan 史彌遠
Giles: powerful official who opposed Han Tuozhou, rehabilitated neo-Confucians, and was instrumental in making Zhao Yun the Lizong Emperor (1225-64).

25. Where is this story from?

26. Xu Jian uses the female pronoun here, but Tong Kin-Woon says it was used for consistency with the previous sentence, and doesn't refer just to women.

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