Chinese Collections



Kuo Yu (Dialogues of the States). Annotated by Wei Chao (204-273). Hsien-ning: I ching Shu T'ang, 1525. 8 vols double leaves in case.
The work is an early collection of historical dialogues, discourses and commentaries of eight feudal states between the Western Chou and the Warring States periods (967-453 B.C.). Comparable to Tso ch'uan which is a formal commentary to the canon, Ch'un Ch'iu, the first Chinese chronological history of Lu, as revised by Confucius, Kuo yu is said to be an outside (informal) commentary on Ch'un ch'iu. It is also called Ch'un ch'iu wai ch'uan, a supplement to the Tso ch'uan. The earliest extant commentary on Kuo yu was written by Wei Chao of the Three Kingdoms (220-265), in which he combined the commentaries by scholars of the Eastern Han with his own. The volume shown here is the commemorative seven millionth volume acquired by the Library, University of California, Berkeley, donated by Shun Chan, the founder of Crocodile Garments Ltd.


Ts'ao, Hsueh-ch'in, ca. 1717-1767
Chih Yen Chai Ch'ung P'ing Shih T'ou Chi (New commentary on the Story of the Stone by the Red Inkstone). Shanghai, 1985. Shih t'ou chi (the Story of the Stone), better known as Hung lou meng (the Dream of the Red Chamber), is generally considered to be the greatest masterpiece of traditional Chinese fiction written by Ts'ao Hsueh-ch'in during the reign of Emperor Chien-lung (1736-1796) of the Ch'ing dynasty. The novel is filled with information on almost every aspect of traditional Chinese culture and social institutions of the time. It is also considered the purest repository of the traditional Peking dialect. Hung Hsueh (Red Studies) has since been a branch of scholarship comparable to Shakespeare Studies. Shown here is a facsimile edition based on the Ch'ing Chien-lung manuscript with commentaries by Chih yen chai (Red Inkstone), originally published in 1791.


Tung, Tso-pin, 1895-1963
Yin Li P'u (The Calendrical System and Tables of Yin). Sichuan, 1954. 4 vols. Tung Tso-pin's magnum opus, Yin li pu, is the classic study of the Late Shang (1751-1112 B.C.) calendar. An attempt to establish on modern, scientific grounds the absolute and relative chronology of events in the Shang dynasty and of numerous individual inscriptions, this work is monumental: it absorbed Tung's energies for a twelve-year period; it is 700,000 characters long; the handcopying of the text for reproduction took twenty months. The work -- pioneering, learned, imaginative -- is an indispensable introduction not simply to Shang chronology but also to Tung's contribution to oracle-bone studies in general and to a variety of analytical techniques with which all scholars of the field must be familiar.

In this discussion of a lunar eclipse inscription recorded on a turtle plastron from the reign of king Wu Ting, Tung addresses the relative date of the inscriptions, and (1) the engraved cracks, (2) the crack numbers, (3) the direction of writing, (4) cases (unusual) in which graphs were cut over the cracks, (5) boundary lines, (6) graphs cut into the back of a plastron, and (7) marginal notations. He then discusses the criteria, including ancestral titles and diviners' names, by which he would date a particular inscription to his Period I. Tung pursues this by considering that king Wu Ting was on the throne for 59 years and that he had over twenty sons. Tung eventually dated the eclipse to 27 March 1373 B.C.

The inscription may be translated as: Crack-making on chou Pin divined: "On the next yi [wei] (we will) perform the cutting sacrifice and mullet-raising ritual to Ancestor Yi. The king read the cracks and said: 'There will be calamities, but it will not rain.' After six days, in the night of [chia] wu, the moon was eclipsed; on yi wei we performed the cutting sacrifice; the Tuo Kung all raised up the offerings (?)." --Professor David Keightley


Chuan Hui Hsiao Kai Hsi Hsiang Chi (The Story of the Western Wing). Album leaves, ink and color on silk. Hsi hsiang chi, a romance, is widely regarded as the best drama by Wang Shih-fu of Yuan dynasty (1206-1368). This album is made of 21 paintings with facing calligraphy transcribing paragraphs from the play. The attributed artist and calligrapher are Ch'iu Ying (d. 1494), and Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1559) of Ming dynasty (1368-1644).







Chou, Fang, fl. 766-796. T'ang Tai Chou Fang Tsan Hua Shih Nu T'u Chuan (A scroll of T'ang Aristocratic Ladies Wearing Flowers in Hair)
Fascimile reproduction by Jung pao chai Fine Art Studio, Pei-ching, 1956. Handscroll painting, 57 cm. This handscroll reproduces the original work, in the collection of (Liaoning Provincial Museum). The work shows six women posed with a crane and a small dog in garden setting that is indicated by a magonolia bush in bloom at the end, i.e. by the left border. The aristocratic status of five of the depicted women is described by their postures and the appearances of their gowns and outer coverings. The delicate but sensual tactile feeling of the clothing has been pointed out by critics as the telling sign of the painter, or an attributed painter from Chou Fang, one of the best known figure-painters of T'ang dynasty.

A recent article has pointed out that the key to the pictorial subject is the feature that is foregrounded in the painting's title, the floral headdresses shown by the elite women. Made up of real and artifical flowers, both shown here, the floral sprays in the women's hair join with the motifs of butterfly and the prominent fan to illustrate "Flower Morning". Usually celebrated in the second month of the lunar calendar, the spring observance thematizes concerns of fecundity, feminine beauty, and desire in the treatment accorded to it in poetry and pictorial images from the eighth century forward. -- Marion Lee


Fu, Chu-yu. Ma-wang-tui Han Mu Wen Wu (Cultural Relics Unearthed from Han tombs at Mawangdui). Ch'ang-sha, 1992.
Ma-wang-tui is the Chinese archaelogical site uncovered in 1973 and located near Ch'ang-sha, Hunan province, China. More than 3,000 invaluable treasures, among them many lost ancient books, were unearthed. Pictured is part of one of two manuscripts of the Chinese Taoist classic, the Lao-tzu or Tao te ching, found in the mid-2nd century B.C. tomb of a scion of a noble family of the southern of Chang-sha of Han Dynasty (210 B.C.- A.D. 220). The manuscript, written on a silk scroll, is followed by a number of other ancient Chinese philosophical works. Scholars speculate that works such as these were buried in tombs because they were among the treasured objects that the dead were believed to need in the afterlife. The nobleman buried at Ma-wang-tui took with him to the netherworld a large number of books. Some were written in ink on silk while others were written on bamboo and wooden strips. Most of the texts discovered were lost early in Chinese history and hence had not been transmitted to other known versions. The excavation of the Ma-wang-tui tombs has presented modern scholars with important new sources for understanding early Chinese intellectual history. -- Professor Jeffrey Riegel


Hu, Cheng-yen, ca. 1582-1672. Shih Chu Chai Hua Pu (Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Painting). 4 vols. double leaves in case.
A woodblock printing of the highest standard, this work is a handbook on Chinese pictorial art that was produced in the sophisticated tradition of polychrome printing, done in imitation of painting. The prints from a complete edition number about 185, and they depict such subjects as bamboo, stones, birds, and different floral species. The work was originally created by Hu Cheng-yen, a versatile artist skilled in all calligraphy, painting, and seal carving, between 1619 and 1633 in the Ming Dynasty. The popularity of the manual led to a considerable number of printing made from recut blocks. This is a fine example. -- Marion Lee


Ta-mo Mien Mi T'u Ping Tsan (Bodhidharma Facing the Wall). Stone relief. 1629 or earlier. 110 x 61 cm.
Bodhidharma (6th C.) is the first patriarch of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism in China. Arriving from India sometime around 520 and finding a welcome in the small empire of the Northern Wei (386-584), the patriarch spent the next nine years in contemplation, seated facing a wall. This portrait of Bodhidharma "wall gazing," the short panegyric attached to it, and the calligraphy are all the work of a Ming dynasty monk whose name in religion was Feng-tien. The stone is now housed in the Pei-lin (Forest of Steles) in Sian, Shensi.


Avatamsaka-sutra (Ta Fang Kuang Fo Hua-yen Ching).
A Tibetan translation. This sutra has played an important role in Tibetan and East Asian Buddhism. It is an anthology of Mahayana texts, and thus it has more than one source in India and Central Asia. By the sixth cenutry, popular practices in China began to center on the text and it was thought that the recitation of the sutra could give great power to those who chanted it. Because of its length lay people could not have time to recite it, but they revered those monks who did so. Later attention moved from the monks to the text itself as a special object of veneration. Copying the sutra and bowing in front of it carried much of the same effect as being in the presence of the monks. The example exhibited shows the care with which ritual copies were made after it had been translated into Tibetan. In order to show its importance, this copy, which was probably made in China by Mongols or Tibetans, is printed in red. -- Professor Lewis Lancaster


Avatamsaka-sutra (Ta Fang Kuang Fo Hua-yen Ching).
A translation in the Hsi-hsia langugage. A Buddhist text in the obsolete Hsi-hsia (Tangut) language probably printed in the Ming dynasty. The Hsi-hsia system, developed in the 11th-13th centuries in Northwestern China, was based on the Chinese model pictographic writing system. This volume contains only the chapter 27, section 2 of Shih ting p'ing in volume 41, acquired in Peking in 1935.


Hand-written Mahaprajnaparamita sutra (T'ang jen shu ta po je po lo mi t'o ching) 4 vols. double leaves in cases.
A rare hand-written copy of T'ang dynasty, with mounting and casing done in 1940s. The text was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Hsuan-chuang (596-664). This superb manuscript, contains the text of fascicle 254 of Mahaprajnaparamitasutra, which consits of 600 fascicles in all, making it the lengthiest of extant Buddhist scriptures.





Li, Chieh, 1036-1110. Li Ming-chung Ying Tsao Fa Shih (Building Standards of Li Ming-chung) Shanghai, 1929. 8 vols. in case.
This illustrated work deals in encyclopedic fashion with all branches of architecture: layout, construction, stonework, carpentry, bracketing, decoration, materials, and labor, from the first to the 11th centuries in China. It became a standard text and was influential in spreading the most advanced techniques of the time of its first publication in the Sung Dynasty in 1103. Since its publication, the work has had great impact on the palace construction of later times in China. Shown here is also a ceiling vault from a Ch'ing Palace constructed based Li's building standards in the Forbidden City in Beijing in the book, Tzu chin ch'eng kung tien. Hong Kong, 1982.


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