Rao Zongyi: An Historical Account of the Qin
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Historical Account of the Qin
from the close of the Song to the Jin and Yuan Dynasties
By Rao Zongyi 2

Each section of Prof. Rao's article is translated as a separate page, as follows:4

  1. Foreword
  2. Prevalent qin tablature after the Song court's move south
  3. Wanyan clan qin tablature and Jin dynasty qin studies
  4. Qin tablature transmitted by Zhang Yan and Han Tuozhou
  5. The rôle of Guo Chuwang and Liu Zhifang in qin studies
  6. Yang Shouzhai and his qin studies
  7. Shouzhai's long-term companions
  8. Outline of Yuan dynasty qin people
  9. Zhe-tablature and the evolution of Xumen qin studies
  10. Supplementary account

Original English summary (revised)5

The most important collections of qin music during the Southern Song dynasty were of two kinds. The first one was the Inner Chamber Tablature (閣譜 Gepu),6 which refers to music that had been officially preserved in the court during the reigns of the Northern Song emperors from 太宗 Taizong (976-998) to 徽宗 Huizong (1101-1125); during this time it was officially revised by the Imperial Music Bureau (大晟府 Dasheng Fu7). This music was both elegant and fascinating. The second kind was the River-West Tablature (江西譜 Jiang-Xi Pu), the music of which was rapid and complicated in tone as well as more distinctive in rhythm than was Gepu.8

Among qin players of the Jin dynasty (1115 - 1234 9; in 1127 they drove the Song from their capital in Kaifeng) there was a large following for the imperial Wanyan Family Qin Tablature (完顏氏琴譜 Wanyan Shi Qinpu10). In every respect it was identical to Gepu, but the playing method was apparently somewhat slower; it was simply a Jin version of the Northern Song dynasty qin music.

(It is not clear what old tablature and/or Gepu was brought to Hangzhou when the Song rulers had to leave Kaifeng in 1127.) During the time when Gepu prevailed, some of the earlier qin tablature became less commonly known. Then shortly before 1200 張巖 Zhang Yan11 (traveled from Hangzhou to his ancestral homeland in Henan, where he) found ancient tablature in the home of 韓琦 Han Qi (1008-1075; a high Northern Song official and ancestor of Zhang Yan's friend Han Tuozhou12). Zhang later combined this with other tablature he secretly purchased in Jin territory. After some revisions Zhang Yan passed on this tablature to (his qin master), 郭沔 Guo Mian, known by his nickname 楚望 Chuwang and best known as the composer of the famous qin melody Xiao Xiang Shui Yun. Upon Guo's death the tablature passed to 劉志方 Liu Zhifang, said to be the composer of 鷗鷺忘機 Oulu Wangji (then apparently known as Wang Ji Qu or simply Wang Ji).

(By the mid-13th century the leading) patron of the qin in Hangzhou was probably 楊纘 Yang Zuan,13 Minister of Agriculture and a clansman of a Song empress. In his work supporting the qin Yang was much helped by the qin players Mao Minzhong and Xu Tianmin, who were also his house guests. At first Yang had been studying the Jiang-Xi Tablature, but through Xu Tianmin, a disciple of Liu Zhifang, Yang was finally able to obtain tablature that had been handed down by Zhang Yan. He then with the help of others compiled a grand handbook in 13 folios called "Handbook of the Purple Haze Cave" (紫霞洞譜 Zixiadong Pu), which contained 468 qin melodies, making it the largest collection of melodies since antiquity.14 Unfortunately this book is now lost.

As for the qin melodies themselves, Yang made four valuable contributions:

  1. He began his tablature with music by Xi Kang, beginning with the 嵇氏四弄 Four Melodies of Mr. Xi.
  2. He brought some consistency into qin tuning. Previously the note produced by the first string had been considered as gong, but Yang considered the third string to be gong. This change (to 仲呂 zhonglü) was much favored by qin players of the Qing dynasty.
  3. He divided the qin tablature first according to mode (宮 gong, 商 shang, 角 jiao , 徵 zhi and 羽 yu), then according to type (調 diao, 意 yi and 操 cao; this practice was followed by later compilers of qin handbooks.
  4. He improved the quality of Gepu, giving them quiet dignity.

During the Yuan dynasty qin players mostly followed Yang Zuan's ideas, but he also had some critics. Perhaps the most important of these were 趙孟頫 Zhao Mengfu and 戴表元 Dai Biaoyuan.15 In his essay Qin Source (琴原 Qin Yuan) Zhao apparently ridiculed Yang for stressing only the expression of melodies without paying attention to rhythm, with the result that he had nothing on which to base the composition of the tablature. However Yuan Jue, a student of Dai Biaoyuan and previously of Xu Tianmin, knew that Yang's tablature was based on that of Zhang Yan and Guo Mian; in his essay 琴述 Qin Narration Yuan Jue cleared Yang from such accusations.

In areas under Jin rule qin playing was quite popular. The 熙宗 Xizong emperor (r.1137-48),16 世宗 Shizong emperor (r.1161-1190,17 and (Shizong's original heir apparent) 顯宗 Xianzong18) were all lovers of the qin. Other distinguished players included 衛宗儒 Wei Zongru19 and 弭大用 Mi Dayong, while 苗秀實 Miao Xiushi, who owed is skills to 喬扆 Qiao Yi,20 was the virtuosos most admired by 耶律楚材 Yelü Chucai. In fact, Miao was the most distinguished master of his age. His son 苗蘭 Miao Lan became the Chief Officer of Music during the reign of the Mongol Taizong emperor (Ögötai Khan; r. 1229 - 1246).

There were also in the same period two noteworthy musicians from Jiangxi province, 田唐卿 Tian Tangqing (nicknamed 種玉翁 Zhongyu Weng)21 and 熊與和 Xiong Yuhe (see 熊與龢22). Perhaps they played Jiang-xi tablature style.

The revised tablature of Yang Zuan was later known as Zhe Pu (浙譜 zhepu, Zhe referring to the approximate region of Zhejiang province, including Hangzhou23). Zhe pu prevailed in 吳越 the regions of Wu and Yue during the first years of the Yuan dynaty Among players of Zhepu the Xu Tradition was most popular. Its most distinguished master was 徐詵 Xu Shen of 寧波 Ningbo, who lived on into the beginning of the Ming dynasty. Both Xu Shen's great grandfather 徐宇 Xu Yu (Xu Tianmin) and his father 徐夢吉 Xu Mengji (Xu Xiaoshan) were known for their skill at the qin. Xu Yu, also called 徐雪汀 Xu Xueting and 徐雪江 Xu Xuejiang, was on good terms with Yang Zuan, and the two used to drink togetgher, write poetry and play the qin to each other. During the 嘉靖 Jiajing period 黃獻 Huang Xian compiled 琴學正傳 Qinxue Zhengchuan (see 琴譜正傳 Qinpu Zhengchuan and compare 梧岡琴譜 Wugang Qinpu). Since Huang was a member of the Xu tradition, this book includes a number of ancient pieces based on the revised versions of Xu Tianmin, Xu Mengji and Xue Shen.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Translation of Prof. Rao's original article
This paper has been translated in connection with an article I have written for presentation at the 2009 Interdisciplinary, Intercultural International Conference on Guqin, Aesthetics and Humanism, Chaoyang University of Technology, Taichung, Taiwan, 24-25 April 2009 (for program see the .pdf outline). I personally re-translated the summary here (there is no indication of who wrote the original), as well as the introductory first chapter; otherwise 金秋雨 Jin Qiuyu did the initial translating and I then re-worked it. The attempt to define "pu" in a footnote below is an example of the difficulty in doing such summaries and translations.

Full reference for the original article:

饒宗頤﹕宋季金元琴史考述. Jao Tsung-Yi (Rao Zongyi), A Historical Account of the Lute, From the Close of Sung to the Chin and Yuan Dynasties. 清華學報 Tsinghua Journal of Chinese Studies, 1971 (New Series 2 #1), pp. 83-106. (English summary pp.107-8).

Reprinted in Tong Kin-Woon's Qin Fu, p.2017ff. Dr. Tong says the Tsinghua Journal publication date is 民國四十九年五月 May 1960, but at the end of the article Rao dates it to May 1971.

The above version has horizontal text. The article was subsequently reprinted in vertical text in

饒宗頤二十世紀學術文集 Collected Works of Jao Tsung-I, 台北,新文豐出版股份有限公司 Taibei, Xinwenfeng Publishing Corporation, 2003, pp. 569-604.

The period covered in Rao Zongyi's essay includes (with dates, capital city [modern name]):

北宋 Northern Song (960-1126; 東京 Dongjing [開封 Kaifeng])
遼朝 Liao (907-1125; various, including 大定府 Dading Fu - the Central Capital: 中亰 Zhongjing [寧城 Ningcheng?])
南宋 Southern Song (1127-1280; 臨安府 Linan Fu [杭州 Hangzhou])
金 Jin (1115-1260; 汴京 Bianjing [開封 Kaifeng] as well as 中都 Zhongdu [北京 Beijing])
元 Yuan (1206-1280-1368; 大都 Dadu [北京 Beijing])
Prof. Rao's essay thus covers the same time period as the Song Yuan chapter of Xu Jian's later Qinshi Chubian; Xu Jian's book was published later [1978], but it is not clear whether Xu Jian had read Prof. Rao's article.

2. Rao Zongyi 饒宗頤 (Wikipedia)
As can be seen above, Rao Zongyi is also written Jao Ts'ung-Yi or Jao Ts'ung-I. The Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole has been involved in the organization of several conferences related to guqin. The one in Taiwan in April 2009, mentioned above, followed on an April 2007 conference in Taiwan with a similar title. The next in this series was the 2nd International Conference on Guqin Aesthetics and Humanism planned by the Center for Hong Kong in December, 2010.

3. Rao Zongyi image
This image was cropped from one on the website of the Jao Tsung-I Petite Ecole at Hong Kong University, with information about the opening ceremony, May 8, 2006.

4. Content of the translation
There is a comment above regarding the translation itself. As for the content, there was no table of contents for the original article, but here again are the original section titles, including the original Chinese:

    1. Foreword 一,前言
    2. Prevalent qin tablature after the Song court's move south 二,南宋渡後流行之琴譜
    3. Wanyan clan qin tablature and Jin dynasty qin studies 三,完顏氏琴譜及金之琴學
    4. Qin tablature transmitted by Zhang Yan and Han Tuozhou 四,張巖及韓佗胄所傳之琴譜
    5. The rôle of Guo Chuwang and Liu Zhifang in qin studies 五,郭楚望與劉志方在琴史上之地位
    6. Yang Shouzhai and his qin studies 六,陽守齋及其琴學
    7. Shouzhai's long-term companions 七,守齋琴侶考
    8. Outline of Yuan dynasty qin people 八,元代琴人述略
    9. Zhe-tablature and the evolution of Xumen qin studies 九,浙譜與徐門琴學之流衍
  10. Supplementary account 十,補記

5. Original English Summary
The original article ended with a useful but unfortunately not very well written English summary. It is here re-written with the addition of a table of contents; both have links either to the translation of the relevant parts of the essay itself, or to explanations of these terms elsewhere on this site.

6. "Tablature" and "Inner Chamber Tablature" (閣譜 Ge pu/Gepu)
The translation of "pu" in the opening sentence of the original English summary shows a typical problem of translation. The original summary says: "The prevailing musical treatises on the lute since the Southern Sung had been of two kinds." "Treatises" for "pu" is clearly a mistake, suggesting that the person doing the summary either misunderstood the original essay or had trouble with English. "Pu" can in fact easily be a confusing term. It can be used to mean a manual, as in a cooking manual (cookbook); for qin it commonly refers to music tablature or a collection of such tablature. With gepu perhaps the use of this term suggests that in the court they actually collected tablature and players were expected to follow the tablature. To refer more directly to the music one might expect terms such as "Zhe sounds" (浙韻 Zhe Yun) or "Jiang-Xi music" (江西樂 Jiang-Xi Yue); in this regard see also the later 浙派 Zhe Pai. Perhaps nothing can clearly be read into the use of "pu" to refer to the music itself. On the other hand, this use of "pu" to refer to the Song dynasty Jiang-Xi Pu and Zhe Pu may also suggest the importance of written music in the Song dynasty. Note also that in poetry and art the Song dynasty was noted for an interest in "return to antiquity".

7. Imperial Music Bureau (大晟府 Dasheng Fu)
Details under Song Huizong.

8. River-West Tablature (江西譜 Jiang-Xi Pu
See comments above on translation of "pu" as "tablature". Jiang-Xi Pu is also paired with Zhe Tablature (浙譜 Zhe Pu, which apparently developed later (see further below).

9. Jin dynasty 金代
The official dates of the Jin dynasty are 1115 - 1234; these Jurchen (女真 Nüzhen) people already controlled much of north China before driving the Song from Kaifeng in 1127. Their capital was Beijing, but in 1211 the Mongols caused them to flee from Beijing to Kaifeng, and in 1234 the last Jin emperor commited suicide and Mongols completely absorbed the former Jin dynasty.

10. Wanyan Family Qin Tablature (完顏氏琴譜 Wanyanshi Qinpu)
Wanyan was the surname of ruling family the Jin dynasty (1115 - 1234).

11. Zhang Yan

12. Xu Jian's account mentions only 韓侘胄 Han Tuozhou, not 韓琦 Han Qi.

13. 楊纘 Yang Zuan

14. Handbook of the Purple Haze Cave (紫霞洞譜 Zixiadong Pu)

15. Other references to 戴表元 Dai Biaoyuan are poetic, e.g., QSCB, Folio 19.

16. 熙宗 Xizong emperor 完顏亶 Wanyan Dan (ruled 1137-48)
7227. 206 完顏亶 Wanyan Dan is mentioned by Xu Jian in Chapter 6a4.

17. 金世宗 Jin emperor Shizong (ruled 1161-1190)
Giles says 完顏裒 Wanyan Pou was Shizong, but 7227.207 完顏雍 Wanyan Yong says this was the name of Shizong. Xu Jian does not mention any of these names.

18. Xianzong 顯宗
This was the posthumous title of 7227.91 完顏允恭 Wanyan Yungong, second son of Shizong. At the beginning of the 大定 Dading period (corresponding to Shizong's reign) he was named heir apparent. He was an educated person and supporter of culture, but he died before he could become emperor. 7227.229 完顏璟 Wanyan Jing says 顯宗嫡子 one of Xianzong's children by his legitimate wife was Wanyan Jing, who succeeded Shizong as 章宗 Zhangzong emperor (ruled 1190-1209). Xu Jian, Chapter 6a4, discusses Zhangzong but not Xianzong.

19. Wei Zongru 衛宗儒
34896.xxx; 7249.264 宗儒 nickname of only Ming people, no Wei. Compare 衛仲儒 Wei Zhongru. Not to be confused with 衛宗武 Wei Zongwu (Southern Song; d. 1289; 34896.56; Bio/50: at end of Song he left office. 嘉興華亭人,字淇父,號九山).

20. 喬扆 Qiao Yi
4114xxx. "The qin virtuoso most admired by Yelü Chucai." Teacher of Miao Xiushi? Compare 扆君章.

21. Tian Tangqing 田唐卿
Tian Tangqing (田唐卿 22219.xxx), nicknamed 種玉翁 (25743.10xxx) Zhongyu Weng perhaps played Jiang-xi tablature style. (唐卿 3714.xxx)

22. Xiong Yuhe 熊與和 (or 熊與龢
19738.108 and Bio.2491 熊與龢: both write "和" as "龢", a rare alternate form Xiong Yuhe perhaps played qin from Jiang-xi tablature style.

23. Zhe Tablature (浙譜 Zhe Pu 浙譜
See QSCB, Chapter 6c2. The possible significance of the use of "pu" (tablature) here, where it may actually mean "music", is discussed above.

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