T of C
|Personal||email me search me|
|Van Gulik: painting of his teacher and illustration of Judge Dee / Lute?||首頁|
R.H. van Gulik and the Qin
Van Gulik in Chongqing 2
Here are two discussions of Van Gulik's own qin play and of his studies with Ye Shimeng.6
Music has always been a favourite pastime of the Chinese scholar-official. During his first sojourn in Japan (1935-42), Dr. van Gulik became interested in the guqin, a zither-type stringed instrument dating back to remote antiquity. He dug deep into the literature on the subject and learned to play it under the instruction of a Chinese teacher.8 His first serious book, The Lore of the Chinese Lute, was published by Sophia University in Tokyo in 1940. When I first knew him, he was already a master of the instrument. It was his habit to carry the guqin, a rather clumsy thing, to various social functions in Chungking, and when the dinner was over, to play a few tunes for his friends' entertainment.9 I well recall one occasion, a hot summer evening, when we all attended a dinner party in a house perched precariously on the bank of the Chialing, a tributary of the Yangtse. After we all had had our share, of food and drinks, Dr. van Gulik started to play an ancient tune which, according to the Chinese, "simulated the music of water flowing gently down the slopes of high mountains". It was a romantic occasion, romantic in the traditional Chinese sense, which Dr. van Gulik deeply loved, and which we all thoroughly enjoyed. For how could we help being enthralled by this young man from Europe, whose physical features were anything but Chinese, playing for us this tune which had remained in the Chinese mind for two thousand years. In subsequent years Dr. van Gulik gave many guqin concerts to overflowing audiences in wartime Chungking to raise money for charities. They were his contributions to China's war effort. His music therefore became an aspect of his diplomacy.10
From 1935 onwards, when van Gulik was posted to Japan, he frequently visited China to carry out study and research. He became a pupil of the famous guqin master Ye Shimeng, a member of the Fujian Minnan school of performance. Ye's teacher was Sun Jinzhai (dates not known [style name of Sun Bao]) and Sun's (teacher was) Zhu Fengjie (d. 1964; see Yuguzhai Qinpu). Van Gulik thus inherited a performance style of extensive tradition. Ye had a high standard of performance and was deeply respected by Van Gulik. (Ye) produced the Shimeng Zhai (Qinpu), a score of nineteen guqin pieces, teaching van Gulik Meihua Sannong first and later a total of ten pieces. Van Gulik was extremely upset when Ye died, dedicating The Lore of the Chinese Lute to his memory three years later (van Gulik, 1940). Van Gulik also carefully worked on a painting in traditional Chinese style entitled Master Ye Playing the Qin, the four edges of which bear the inscriptions of other qin players.12
Van Gulik's widow, Shui Shifang,13 said that the short time van Gulik spent living in China was the happiest period of his life. His transfer to the Dutch Embassy (1943), then located at the temporary capital Chongqing, enabled him to meet many well known qin players and aficionados, including Zha Fuxi, Xu Yuanbai and Wang Mengshu. Van Gulik joined and helped organise the Chongqing Tianfeng Qin Society,14 which met frequently for performance and discussion. The Dutch Embassy provided the Society with a meeting place, and van Gulik was able to collect a large number of guqin scores. These scores and treatises include hand-copied manuscripts and volumes and traditional block-printed and thread-bound books. Van Gulik purchased some of these items, copied others by hand himself and was given several by qin-playing associates.
Several passages in the Judge Dee novels have him playing guqin.15
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
Robert Hans Van Gulik and the Guqin
Van Gulik (Wikipedia; Chinese name 高羅佩 Gao Luopei) was a scholar of great breadth. However, this page only concerns him in relation to the qin.
Relevant writings by or about Van Gulik include the following (see also this blog post by Stephen Jones):
Van Gulik's rational for calling the qin a lute is discussed elsewhere. Below there are further links regarding the Judge Dee mysteries.
|2. Images: Van Gulik in Chongqing||Playing qin in his library (unknown location)|
There are further images below.
His 1935 doctoral dissertation, Hayagriva, the Mantrayanic Aspect of the Horse-cult in China and Japan, was simultaneously published by E.J. Brill.
After China, the Dutch diplomatic service sent Van Gulik home (1946), the U.S. (1947), Japan (1948), India (1951), home (1954), Lebanon (1956), Malaya (1959), home (1963), Japan (1964, as ambassador to Japan and Korea). In 1967, while on leave in Holland, he became ill and died.
Judge Dee mysteries
As a writer R. H. Van Gulik gained his greatest popularity as author of the Judge Dee mysteries, which I often recommend to friends as good introductions to early Chinese culture. Regarding Judge Dee and the qin, see the illustration below. There is also Janwillem van de Wetering, Judge Dee Plays his Lute (Dunn & Powell Books, 1997). There is considerable information about Van Gulik and Judge Dee on the internet. In particular, Marco Huysmans has had a Judge Dee website at several different addresses. As of 2012 it was here:
The Wikipedia entry also includes an interesting Judge Dee chronology.
Ye Shimeng 葉詩夢 (1863-1937; image)
An online biography of Ye Shimeng from www.chineseguqin.com (since removed but see the Shimeng entry in Baidu) said this was the 潛號 name taken in retirement by 葉鶴伏 Ye Hefu, who originally had the name 佛尼音布 Foniyinbu, and was a nephew of the empress dowager (i.e., he was at least part Manchu). It said Ye's father served as an official in 粵 Yue (Guangdong/Guangxi), at which time Ye Shimeng began studying with players who had inherited the tradition of the Yuguzhai Qinpu (any connection to the family tradition of Qing Rui [1816-1875], another Manchu who had recently been a leading player in Guangzhou?). Later in Beijing he studied Wuzhizhai Qinpu melodies from 孫晉齋 Sun Jinzhai (孫寶 Sun Bao: see 1875), melodies of the 蜀 Sichuan school from 李湘石 Li Xiangshi, and more. One of his students was 汪孟舒 Wang Mengshu.
Zha Fuxi's Guide includes brief comments and a table of contents for Ye's qin handbook Shimeng Zhai (Qinpu) (1914). His students also apparently also included 管平湖 Guan Pinghu. However, I could not find mention of Ye in the Jin Yu Qin Kan materials.
Dai Xiaolian's article also says Ye Shimeng studied qin from Sun Jinzhai, who in turn studied from Zhu Fengjie. However, an article by Julian Joseph (no longer online) says one of Ye's teachers was (also?) Sun's student Zhang Ruishan (see Shiyixianguan Qinpu). Zhang Ruishan had a shop in Liulichang (in Beijing).
Zha Fuxi also wrote an article (p.142) discussing some of these people.
陳之邁 Chen Zhimai
Chen, op. cit., pp.31-2. "Lute" and "Chinese lute" have been changed here to "guqin". The essay was presented to the Asiatic Society of Japan, 24 September 1968.
Van Gulik's qin studies
Since Van Gulik's first qin teacher was 葉詩夢 Ye Shimeng (1863 - 1937; see above), the qin studies must have commenced during one of VG's numerous trips from Japan to China. VG dedicates Lore to Ye as his "first teacher" of the qin, suggesting he later had other teachers.
As for his having also studied qin in Japan, a biography of Van Gulik in Dutch by Carl Barkman says the following (p. 64; thanks for this to Marco Huysmans, whose Judge Dee website is mentioned above):
Playing qin at gatherings
See also mention of the Heavenly Air Qin Society below; the Chinese essay mentions VG's involvement in organizing the Society on p.12. On p.50 the essay adds that when VG was in Hong Kong in early 1967 he took part in two qin gatherings where he saw such qin friends as 徐文鏡 Xu Wenjing and 饒宗頤 Rao Zongyi.
The essay goes on to discuss VG's research into 蔣興疇 Jiang Xingchou (1639-1695), better known as the Buddhist monk 心越 Shin-etsu. Shin-etsu went to Japan as a missionary in 1677 and taught guqin to many students.
A footnote states, "The information contained in this section is derived from (the Chen Zhimai book) and an interview with van Gulik's widow, Shui Shufang, held on August 1st, 1991." The whole article was originally published as Helan cunjiande guqinpu yu Gao Luopei in Yinyue Yishu, the Journal of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, no.2, 1992, pp.67-71.
Van Gulik painting: Master Ye Playing the Qin
The original of this painting, copied below left, is in the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (State Museum of Ethnology) in Leiden. Marco Huysmans, whose Judge Dee website is mentioned above, told me that "this beautiful picture of the scroll comes from the Catalog of Christie's Amsterdam for the auction of the Van Gulik collection in 1983 (page 14; item 49). The description says, 'Note by Van Gulik: "The picture was drawn by me, except for the face, which was copied by an expert from the photograph attached to the obituary notice"'. It was sold for 5,130 Dutch Guilders (about 2,500 USD)."
It is interesting to compare Van Gulik's drawing with Illustration 3 found on p.5 of his Lore of the Chinese Lute.
by R. H. Van Gulik
Qin Xue Rumen
Van Gulik's wife, 水世芳 Shui Shifang
One of 8 children of a wealthy government official, she met Van Gulik in 1943 while he was at the Dutch Embassy in Chongqing and she, while working in the foreign office, tutored him once a week in Mandarin. After their marriage, when she was 22 and he about 10 years older, she followed him through his diplomatic life, but he died at the age of 57 and she, after a final trip to China, moved to Spain, apparently severing her connections with her past. Eventually, though, one of his granddaughters, Marie-Anne Souloumiac, did research on her grandmother, whom as a child she had heard was a "Chinese princess". After visiting and filming her in Spain in 2005 she made a 15 minute film about her grandmother's life, The Last Mandarin. (In early 2013 it could be found online but as of later that year it seems to have been removed.) It has some personal information about Van Gulik himself, as well as a number of interesting images. Ms. Souloumiac herself subsequently moved to Shanghai, where in 2013 did an interview focused on her grandfather's Judge Dee mystery novels; as of late 2013 this interview was still available online.
|14. Tianfeng Qin Society (天風琴社 Tianfeng Qin She)||First anniversary photo of the Tianfeng Qin Society|
This photo comes from a web page that also has a 2012 news clipping from the Chongqing Morning Post (part of the Chongqing Daily News Group) about this qin society; its headline says, "天風琴社扛起重慶抗戰雅樂文脈 Tianfeng Qin Society bears the context of elegant music during the War of Resistance". The story, by a writer with the nickname 馬拉 Mala, begins by saying that during the war Chongqing had two gathering places for qin players, one at the 槐庵 Cassia Hut of 張孟虛 Zhang Mengxu, the other in the 清白家風 family residence of 楊少五 Yang Shaowu. The Yang family apparently had connections to Feng Yuxiang and Yu Youren as well as to Van Gulik, and so the Tianfeng Qin Society is thought to have grown from this.
The original copy of this group photograph apparently belonged to Yang Shaowu's grandson 楊生平 Yang Shengping but is now in Chongqing's 中國三峽博物館 China Three Gorges Museum (website), which opened in 2006 as successor to the Chongqing Museum (mentioned several times here). The Museum's 唐冶澤 Tang Yeze has done some research on the Society. The museum also has a large collection of old guqins, perhaps the largest in China outside its National Palace Museum. Many of these were restored and put on display for the first time in 2010, apparently after having been in storage for over 50 years. Since then the Museum has sent out qins in traveling exhibitions to various musueums; e.g., exhibitions in 2014 of "Guqin Collected by China Three Gorges Museum" included ones in Dalian, Shenzhen and Suzhou (the content and title of each exhibition might differ).
In 2008 the Tianfeng Guqin Academy (天風古琴院 Tianfeng Guqin Yuan) was established in Chongqing, its name apparently inspired by the old name Tianfeng Qinshe. The director of the Academy, 黃健華 Huang Jianhua, an artist as well as a qin player, at one time had a blog, but apparently no longer.
|15. Judge Dee plays guqin||Illustration from The Night of the Tiger|
This particular passage may have been inspired by other stories of ghosts appearing when someone plays qin. Van Gulik translated several of these in Lore, including this one about Su Shi. There is no actual historical information as to whether or not the real Judge Dee ever played qin.
Return to / Guqin ToC
Apprendix: Images from The Last Mandarin