Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Niu Yün-chên

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NIU Yün-chên 牛運震 (T. 階平, H. 眞谷 and 空山), Dec. 11, 1706–1758, Mar. 1, scholar, educator and administrator, was a native of Tzŭ-yang, Shantung. His father, Niu Mêng-jui 牛夢瑞 (T. 思然, H. 松亭), a senior licentiate (pa-kung) of 1723, lived to an advanced age and survived his son. Niu Yün-chên became a senior licentiate in 1728, a chü-jên in 1732, and a chin-shih in 1733. On the recommendation of Yüeh Chun (see under Yüeh Chung-ch'i), governor of Shantung (1728–37), he was a candidate in the special po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination of 1736, but owing to the excessive length of his poem (賦 fu), and to his habit of writing many characters in archaic forms, he failed to pass. In 1738 he was appointed magistrate of Ch'in-an, Kansu. As acting magistrate of the two adjoining districts of Hui-hsien (1741) and Liang-tang (1743) he was thus for a time concurrently magistrate of three districts. In 1745 he was transferred to the magistracy of P'ing-fan, also in Kansu. Three years later he was dismissed from office, charged with accepting a wan-min i 萬民衣, or "myriad citizens robe," from the people of the district. This garment, donated by many admirers, was sometimes presented to a popular official to demonstrate the wide esteem in which his administration was held. During his tenure of office in the above-mentioned districts he improved conditions in many ways by facilitating irrigation, building roads, planting trees and conducting fair trials. Above all he stressed education. He founded in Ch'in-an the Academy known as Lung-ch'uan shu-yüan 隴川書院 and himself was the chief lecturer. In 1749 he accepted for a year the headship of the Academy, Kao-lan shu-yüan 皋蘭書院 of Lanchow, Kansu, after which (1750) he returned home. In 1754 he directed the San-li shu-yüan 三立書院 in Taiyuan, and in 1755 the Ho-tung shu-yüan 河東書院 in Pu-chou, both in Shansi. From 1756 to 1757 he was head of the Shao-ling shu-yüan 少陵書院 in his native prefecture, Yen-chou-fu, Shantung. He died in 1758 and was unofficially canonized by his pupils as Wên-ting 文定.


As a by-product of his teaching he annotated such Classics as the Analects, Mencius, the Odes, and the Classic of History, as well as Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien's Historical Record (Shih-chi). Beginning in 1735 he made a study of the dynastic histories and produced in consequence a series of corrections and emendations which he entitled 讀史糾謬 Tu-shih chiu-miu. In collaboration with Ch'u Chün 褚峻 (T. 千峰), a skilled engraver who sold rubbings for a living, he printed in 1736 a work, entitled 金石經眼錄 Chin-shih ching-yen lu, in 1 chüan, consisting of 47 inscriptions on metal and stone, reproduced in facsimile with annotations. This work was later expanded and published about 1745 under the title Chin-shih t'u (圖). The Imperial Catalogue (see under Chi Yün) also mentions a work on the Classic of Changes in 4 chüan, entitled 空山易解 K'ung-shan I-chieh, and one on the Spring and Autumn Annals in 12 chüan, entitled K'ung-shan-t'ang Ch'un-ch'iu chuan. Niu Yün-chên's collected literary works, K'ung-shan-t'ang chi (集) in 18 chüan, consisting of 12 chüan of prose and 6 chüan of poetry, were first printed in 1801. He had two sons: Niu Hêng 牛衡 (T. 持之), the older, who died young; and Niu Chün 牛鈞 (T. 中野, b. 1746) who became a salaried licentiate.


[1/483/11a; 3/231/14a; 4/103/16a; 31/7/4b; Tzŭ-yang-hsien chih (1888) 8/21a; Chiang Chih-chung 蔣致中, Niu K'ung-shan nien-p'u (1933); Ssŭ-k'u, 10/3b, 31/9a, 86/11a, 87/7a.]

Tu Lien-chê