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Zhu Quan (1378 - 1448)
The "Emaciated Immortal"
With Yao Pinwen at Zhu Quan gravesite west of Nanchang2
Zhu Quan was the 17th son of Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming dynasty.7 His mother, a minor concubine surnamed Yang, was the daughter of one Zhu Yuanzhang's generals. Her family came from Nanchang, where Zhu Quan was prince from 1403 until his death in 1448.
As a child in the then-capital, Nanjing, Zhu Quan is reported to have showed the best academic potential among all the brothers. He was diligent, especially interested in classics and history, but also with a strong inclination towards Daoism. He was handsome and much favored by his father
At age 15 he went to Daning, north of the Great Wall, as prince of an area important for defense against possible attacks from Mongols. From here he supported the struggle of his elder half-brother the prince of Yan (now Beijing), Zhu Di. Thus when Zhu Di won the struggle to become emperor in 1402, Zhu Quan had hopes of becoming prince of a major center such as Suzhou or Hangzhou (i.e., Nanjing? see Map 5. Estates of the Ming Princes8), so he felt betrayed when Zhu Di offered him instead a choice of minor towns in Fujian, Hubei or Shandong, or Chongqing in Sichuan. Zhu Quan then counter-proposed Nanchang, presumably because this was his wife's native area.
In March of 1403 Zhu Quan proceeded by boat up the Yangzi river and across Poyang Lake to Nanchang. In one of his later books9 he describes hearing musicians on this trip, including Jiang Kangzhi, a "wonderful singer", who later entered Zhu Quan's court in Nanchang as one of the "qin workers" he later mentions in his Preface to Shen Qi Mi Pu.
All the historical accounts mention Zhu Quan's precarious position in Nanchang, where he always had to be careful not to offend the emperor. In this he was more successful than some of his brothers, perhaps because he was able to follow up on his wide range of interests, from arts and science to religion and philosophy.
He published widely on the subjects that interested him. According to Jonker, "altogether some fifty titles of works ascribed to him (including his lyrical dramas) are known.... (but) only ten works of his have received a wider circulation by their inclusion in congshu or being reprinted in modern editions." Many of his writings are well covered in both the Jonker and Yao biographies. Some of these are listed in the Qin Bibliography. Of particular note are the two that concern the qin:
Yao adds very interesting details on Zhu, showing him to have been a devoted husband and father. (Some details to be added)
Because of his political uncertainty he spent much of his later life at a country home by the hills across the Gan river, which flows up the west side of Nanchang. This was apparently near his tomb, which still remains. The tomb consists of several rooms in the side of a hill, with two pillars about 100 meters away, guarding a path to the entrance. Nearby is a small village where everyone has the surname Zhu.
The site is shown on local Nanchang maps, but visitors are extremely rare. A new entrance is built over the old one and the contents of the grave (which included a qin or qin fragments) have been removed to the provincial museum.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
朱權 Zhu Quan (1378 – 1448;
Zhu Quan (14779.924: 16th son of the founder of the Ming dynasty) was enfeoffed as 寧王 Prince of Ning, also called 寧獻王 Ningxian prince, His main 號 nickname was 臞仙 Quxian (Qu Xian, the Emaciated Immortal; other translations include Slender Hermit, Gaunt Transcendent, etc.). Other nicknames included Master of the Vessel of Emptiness (涵虛子 Hanxuzi) and Mister Cinnabar Mound (丹丘先生 Danqiu Xiansheng; note that Qianqingtang Shumu lists a 丹丘子琴譜二卷 Danqiuzi Qinpu, 2 folios, commenting only that does not know the 撰子 compiler). The Zhu Quan Wikipedia pages in English and Chinese are both rather short. For more on Zhu Quan and the qin see Shen Qi Mi Pu. (QSCB has a chapter about him 中文) in connection with the melody Autumn Geese.
The most extensive published English language accounts of Zhu Quan seem to be
|The major modern Chinese language sources for Zhu Quan are by Yao Pinwen||Zhu Quan grave (Yao Pinwen appendix)|
The former, a 276-page biography published in only 1,000 copies, is an excellent study. The latter, with 411-pages, is a revised and expanded edition, also an essential work, but only 700 copies were printed; Prof. Yao, an emeritus professor of Chinese literature at Jiangxi Normal University in Nanchang, added on pp. 2 and 195-7 of the latter a photo and commentary on our 1999 trip to Zhu Quan's grave. Her books also append punctuated versions of the major classical sources, including Zhu Quan's biography in Ming History (translation). Yishu yu Renwen Kexue Chubanshe (Arts and Humanities Publishing Company?) is apparently located in 西雅圖 Seattle, but the given address, 3128 NE 217th St., Seattle, WA 98125, seems to have a mistake in the numbers.
Original sources include Zhu Quan's Ming Biography and his biography in （國朝）獻征錄 (Guochao) Xianzheng Lu by 焦竤 Jiao Hong (1541-1622). Xianzheng Lu is an important collection of biographies from earlier in the Ming dynasty.
Ming dynasty princes and the guqin
Qinshi Xu lists a number of Ming emperors as well as princes noted for their connection to the qin. Ming dynasty princes associated with specific qin handbooks include:
In addition a number of eunuchs published handbooks and were also otherwise well-known for their guqin accomplishments; they were presumably all supported by princes or emperors.
Zhu Quan's Writings
Jonker wrote that, of Zhu Quan's "altogether some fifty titles", only 10 "have received a wider circulation by their inclusion in congshu or by being reprinted in modern editions." He then describes them in the following order:
Jonker also mentions a southern lyrical drama (傳奇 Chuanqi) named 荊釵紀 Jingchai Ji (Tale of the Thorn Hairpin) that is now sometimes attributed to Zhu Quan, plus "an illustrated record of 168 foreign countries and places entitled Yiyu Tuzhi 異域圖志, completed around 1430 but not printed until 1489, reprinted 1609."
|6. Zhu Quan and tea (see also Qin and Tea)||Zhu Quan at the Wuyi Mountain Tea Theme Park (enlarge)|
The image at right, a statue of Zhu Quan at the 中華武夷茶博園 China Wuyi Tea Park, opened in 2009, is in a way a reflection of the exploding interest in tea in China has led to increased awareness of Zhu Quan (see
Qin and Tea). The image, cropped from one linked to the
Zhu Quan Wikipedia page, is also referred to as the 武夷山茶博園朱權塑像 Zhu Quan Statue at Wuyi Mountain Tea Theme Park, near Wuyishan town in western Fujian province. For further information see also 中文, blog photos (towards end), etc. A closeup of the image allows reading the inscription behind him. Is the tea boy to Zhu Quan's right holding a kujiejun?
Map 5. Estates of the Ming Princes
From The Cambridge History of China, Volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, p.121. This statement seems to suggest Zhu Quan was originally offered only a region within an "estate". I do not fully understand how that system worked.