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Chapter Six: Song and Yuan dynasties (cont.)
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, p. 84-6 1

6.A. Qin Specialists (cont.) 2

1. Qin monk teachers and disciples in the Northern Song dynasty



Permeating more than 100 years of the Northern Song was a "Qin Monk Faction" (Qinseng Xitong3). Their transmission from teacher to student and their production of large numbers of talented people (brought them) an important status throughout the qin world. They are called a "Qin Monk Faction" because, other than the first one, Zhu Wenji, who was a qin teacher at the palace, afterwards in every period (of the northern Song) it was monks who were honored as the "Great Teachers."

Zhu Wenji we should discuss first.4 During the Taiping Xingguo era (976-983),5 (Wenji) "was the best under heaven at playing the qin." He was a very knowledgeable Qin Daizhao ("Qin [Player] Awaiting Imperial Command"6) who dared to persist in his upright opinions.

At that time Song Taizong, in order to establish his own fame, planned to take the seven strings of the qin and increase them to nine strings.7 The rationale was: "The Zhou dynasty's Wen Wang and Wu Wang had together been able to add two strings, so why can't I?" In order to put himself on the same high level as Zhou Wen Wang and Zhou Wu Wang he made a novel suggestion, a scheme for adding two strings (to the qin). At that time the sycophants all flattered this (idea). Only Zhu Wenji, based on his performance experience, courageously raised a contrary opinion, saying, "The original five strings are more than enough (to express the) bequeathed sounds and, having been increased by two, today there is nothing missing."8 He believed that there was no need to add two strings.

Because Zhu Wenji had great influence in the qin world, his opposition naturally caused the emperor great disappointment. But the emperor not only did not listen to (Zhu's) reasonable opinions; on the contrary, he exerted a lot of heavy pressure on (Zhu), sternly ordering him to use the newly-made nine-string qin to play a new piece for his close officials. Zhu Wenji had no choice; (but), forced to use (the nine-string qin, he used only) seven of the strings to perform a traditional qin piece. The listeners still thought the result was that he was using (all the strings of) the new qin to play a new piece. The Prime Minister, not understanding but pretending to, in order to display his solicitude towards the emperor, made a point of asking, "What is the name of this new piece?" He didn't expect that Zhu Wenji would honestly respond, "It is the old piece Feng Ru Song."9

(Zhu Wenji) hadn't provided flattery for the emperor's "Grand Event"; on the contrary, he had publicly exposed the ignorance of the influential officials. Contrarily, another qin teacher, Zhao Yi,10 because he had been able to curry favor with the emperor (by approving of the idea), not only had had gifts bestowed on him, he had also acquired a very lucrative posting. Despite this, Zhu Wenji still, "held to his conviction, not being swayed." He expressed completely an artistic nature which was, "happy to dwell in simplicity, not loving wealth and fame".11

Yi Zhong,12 the capital city's Wisdom-Sun Monk.13 was (Zhu Wenji's most) successful student. Yi Zhong also taught his qin skills to Zhi Bai14 and Yi Hai.15 They were all very famous qin monks.

(Zhi Bai): After (the famous poet) Ouyang Xiu16 (1007-1072) heard a performance by Zhi Bai, (who lived at the Tianzhu Temple near Hangzhou), in order to praise the artistic conception of the performance he wrote a long poem which contained the poetic phrase:

"How would one know that the profundity of high mountains and deep waters,
Is already expressed by these vermilion silk strings." 17

In (this?) poem he also wrote,

"It had been a long time since I had heard about the qin play of Yi Zhong. Often I feared he had become old and died, and his tradition was lost. I didn't personally know Yi Zhong, so I never saw him. I never expected to be so lucky as to encounter the playing of Zhi Bai! (If Zhi Bai had been able to achieve) only a part (of Yi Zong's) venerable tones, it would have been beautiful enough. How amazing that he transmits the whole thing!" 18

The poet was very much satisfied from listening to the qin performance, so he thought that the famous and flourishing qin art of Yi Zhong had not sunk into oblivion; in fact, it could have been "passed on in entirety."

Yi Hai, the other student of Yi Zhong, after finishing studying with his master in the capital (Kaifeng), returned to his own home region (near Shaoxing19) to continue serious practice. He played the qin at Fahuashan in Yuezhou20 "for altogether 10 years not coming down from the mountain; hands day and night not leaving the strings; and so fully expressing the qin's beauty."

Many people studied the qin from Yi Hai, but no one could attain his level. "People gathered from all over to study from (Yi) Hai (but) no one attained his mysteries." But where was this mystery? Shen Gua in his Mengji Bitan21 pointed out,

"The art of (Yi) Hai is not in the sounds. The artistry of the music is profound yet simple; it is outside the realm of sound. This is something which most people cannot attain."

(Yi Hai) and his senior classmate, Zhi Bai, were the same: their good points were in having their own unique musical artistry. As (Yi Hai) himself said,

"(Qin music) should resemble floating clouds in heaven, spreading out and coming together in response to the wind, taking 10,000 forms and lasting 1,000 seasons, but always keeping its natural beauty." (Qinyuan Yaolu22)

Yi Hai was widely read and also a good writer; he had broad literary training. "A Poem on Listening to Monk Ying Play the Qin"23 by Han Yu24 had been criticized by Ouyang Xiu as being about "listening to the pipa."25 Yi Hai didn't think it was like that at all, so he put together the special points of the qin sounds and explained them one by one, once again confirming (the ideas in) Han's poem. (Yi Hai) also summarized rules concerning changing performance speed in qin pieces, as follows,

"Rapid (notes) should resemble multitudinous stars in their lack of disorder.
Slow (notes) should resemble a flowing stream in their continuity."

(Yi Hai) was clearly pointing out that a melody with a fast tempo was like the glittering brightness of multitudinous stars filling the sky, dazzling people's eyes, (but) with an atmosphere shrouded by quiet serenity. (As for) melodies played slowly: like flowing streams, on the surface they seem peaceful and not moving, but in reality they are forever continuing, moving without rest.26

Zequan Heshang (Zequan the Monk27) was a student of Yi Hai. In his compilation "Zequan Heshang's Rhythm and Fingerings,"28 he elaborated on discussions of Yi Hai's qin pieces. Concerning the theory of performance he had his own unique opinions. At the same time, the qin pieces which he transmitted were at that time very much appreciated.

Zhao Kuang,29 a monk in Qiantang (Hangzhou), was a disciple of Zequan. During the Zhenghe period (1111-1117), used his performance of Guangling San with "beautiful rhythms" to become famous.30 During the Xuanhe reign (1119-1125) Zhao Kuang lived a long time in Zhongdu (modern Beijing), (unlike other monks) often visiting the homes of wealthy local people.31

(Continue with Literati and Qin Masters)

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. Qin Monk Faction (琴僧系統 Qinseng Xitong)
Origin of this term unclear.

4. Zhu Wenji 朱文濟
14799.xxx; see Qin Shi #142 and Qinshu Daquan, Folio 15, #43 (QQJC, V/332). Qin Shu Cunmu #91 is his 琴雜調譜,十二卷 Qin Zadiaopu: Handbook for Qin Melodies in Various Modes.

5. Great Peace Reviving the County; the first era of Taizong (976-998), the second Song emperor, Zhao Huang (939-997); the capital city was Kaifeng.

6. 琴待詔 Qin Daizhao (Qin [Player] Awaiting Imperial Command)
The rank of Daizhao (待詔 10318.33; Hucker: editorial assistants), usually connected to the Hanlin Academy, went back to the Han dynasty, but Qin Daizhao was an official rank only during the Song/Jin dynasties. Such daizhao are also discussed in QSCB, Chapter 6a5 and Chapter 6c2. People who held this rank apparently included Zhu Wenji and Zhao Yi as well as Miao Xiushi; see also Xue Yijian.

7. There are several references to this in QSDQ (cf. QQJC, V/121-2, 331, 332, 368).

8. Xu Jian references Qinshu Daquan, but I have not been able to find this quote.

9. Wind through the Pines -- a very famous piece; the earliest surviving version is in Taigu Yiyin (1511).

10. 38015.xxx; with Zhu Wenji as Qin Shi #142.

11. "Qin Shi" (Qin History) by (Song) Zhu Changwen.

12. 夷中 Yi Zhong

13. 慧日大師 Huier Dashi
Huier (also "Buddha-Wisdom"), 11411.9, is a Buddhist term and also the name of several monks (Yi Zhong not mentioned).

14. Zhi Bai 知白
24483.xxx; Qinshi Xu #111; ref. in QSDQ-QQJC V/446.

15. Yi Hai 義海
29142.144/xxx; Qinshi Xu #114.

16. Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修
Biographical notes in Qin Shi; see also QSCB, Chapter 6a2.

17. Ronald Egan, The Literary Works of Ou-Yang Hsiu, Cambridge, C.U.P., 1984, p.198; reference given to Ouyang Wenzhong Gongji (1933 ed.), 6.62.

18. Presented to the Qin-playing Monk, Zhi Bai, QSDQ-QQJC V/446.

19. Yi Hai's home region "near Shaoxing": could this have been Siming or Ningbo? See comment under Yuan Jue.

20. "Modern Shaoxing, in Zhejiang province" (about 50 km east of Hangzhou).

21. Dream Book Sketches (夢溪筆談 Mengxi Bitan)
QSDQ, Folio 17 (QQJC, V/376); Tong Kin-Woon Qin Fu, Vol.2, p.1689; For Shen Gua (1030-1093) 17529.240; Giles.

22. "若浮雲之在太虛 因風舒卷 萬態千秋 不失自然之趣."
義海 Yi Hai is quoted several times by his student Zequan Heshang in an essay on rhythm, included in the Yuan dynasty work 琴苑要錄 Qinyuan Yaolu (see discussion in QSCB, Chapter 6c6). The above quote, on folio page 32a, comes from a section that begins, "凡彈操弄 Whenever playing caonong". (Another citation is given below.)

23. A Poem on Listening to Monk Ying Play the Qin
Included in QSDQ, Folio 19 (QQJC, V/424-5); translated by Stephen Owen in The Poetry of Meng Chiao and Han Yu, New Haven, Yale U. Press, 1975. Han Yu's poem concerned a performance of Guangling San, by nature a lively piece.

24. 韓愈 Han Yu (768-824)
See previous footnote; 44128.317; Giles.

25. The story is related in Ronald Egan, op. cit., p.35. Reference is to Ouyang Wenzhong Gongji, 5.57.

26. 急若繁星不亂 緩若流水不絕
From Zequan Heshang's essay on rhythm in Qinyuan Yaolu (see footnote above), folio page 33b, in a section beginning "凡云節者 whenever discussing rhythm". There is a further comment on this couplet in QSCB, Chapter 6c6.

27. Zequan the Monk (則全和尚 Zequan Heshang)
則全 2039.xxx. His best know work is the one mentioned in the next footnote.

28. 指法、節奏 Zhifa, Jiezou
This work by Zequan Heshang is included in 琴苑要錄 Qinyuan Yaolu, folio pages 11a - 34a.

29. Zhao Kuang 照曠
19677.xxx; Qinshi Xu #322 has six lines about him, citing 墨莊漫錄 Mo Zhuang Manlu. It is not clear where he would have studied with Zequan Heshang.

30. "Chunzhu Jiwen" (Spring Islet Records, 14146.440, compiled by [Song] He Yuan; one folio concerns the qin).

31. "Mo Zhuang Manlu" (Diffuse Records about Mozi and Zhuangzi, by [Song] Zhang Bangji). 張邦基 Zhang Bangji was also a qin player (online info.)

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