Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tai Hsi

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TAI Hsi 戴熙 (T. 醕士, 蒓涘, H. 鹿牀, 東井居士), 1801–1860, Mar. 21, painter and official, was a native of Ch'ien-t'ang (Hangchow). In 1819 he became a chü-jên and in 1832 a chin-shih with appointment to the Hanlin Academy. In 1834 he was made senior assistant secretary of the Supervisorate of Imperial Instruction. Upon the death of his mother in 1835 he retired to observe the customary period of mourning. When he returned to the capital in 1838 he was re-instated in his previous post, but before long was made a secretary in the same office. He served simultaneously in the Imperial Study, with which he was connected at various times over a number of years. Late in the summer of 1838 he was appointed educational commissioner of Kwangtung, at a time when the laws prohibiting the smoking of opium were being strictly enforced. As that province was then subject to large importations of the drug, Tai Hsi made special efforts to see that the prohibition was enforced among students. His service in Kwangtung terminated in 1840, and after a brief sojourn at home, he resumed his work in Peking (1841). But in 1842 he asked leave to retire, owing to the advanced age of his father who died later in that same year. When the customary period of mourning was over he reported in Peking (1845). After officiating as associate examiner of the metropolitan examination, he was once more made educational commissioner of Kwangtung (1845). Upon the conclusion of his second term (1847) he returned to the capital where in 1848 he was promoted to be the junior vice-president of the Board of War. Upon his retirement from this post in the following year, on grounds of ill health, his official career came to an end and he repaired to his home in Hangchow.

When Emperor Wên-tsung (see under I-chu) began his reign in 1850, Tai Hsi was recommended for active employment, but he declined owing to illness. Three years later the Taiping forces took Nanking (see under Hung Hsiu-ch'üan) and Tai Hsi's own province was endangered. He joined with the local officials and gentry in organizing volunteer corps, and for these services was awarded in 1859 the second rank official costume—a rank above the one he had attained at his retirement. Despite these efforts Hangchow was menaced in the following year (1860) by the forces of Li Hsiu-ch'êng [q. v.] who took the city on March 19. Two days later Tai Hsi died—a martyr to the Ch'ing cause—having killed himself by drowning in a pond. Hangchow was, nevertheless, recovered on the 24th. When his loyalty was reported to the throne he received the posthumous name, Wên-chieh 文節, and a special temple was ordered to be built for him in his native place. Several members of his family died with him, including a younger brother, Tai Hsü 戴煦 (T. 鄂[諤]士, H. 鶴墅, 1806–1860), who was a mathematician.

Tai Hsi was one of the celebrated painters of the late Ch'ing period. Although he was particularly skilled in landscape, he also did well in the portrayal of plant life. He was exceptionally good in copying the paintings of earlier well known artists. When he went to Kwangtung as educational commissioner in 1838, Emperor Hsüan-tsung (see under Min-ning) pointed out to him that wide travel and observation of the varied beauties of nature would further improve his skill. A collection of the colophons on his various paintings, mostly in verse, but also in prose, entitled 題畫偶錄 T'i-hua ou-lu, 1 chüan, was first printed in 1870. It was later reprinted in several collectanea. A catalogue, recording most of his paintings during the years 1841–59, entitled 習苦齋畫絮 Hsi-k'u chai hua-hsü, in 10 chüan, was edited by Hui-nien 惠年 (T. 齋谷, H. 菱舫), a Manchu, and was printed in 1893.

Tai Hsi had the hobby of collecting coins, and left a work on ancient coins, entitled 古泉叢話 Ku-ch'üan ts'ung-hua, 3 chüan, which was printed in 1872 by P'an Tsu-yin [q. v.] in the collectanea, 潘刻五種 P'an-k'o wu-chung, bearing a preface by Tai Hsi dated 1838. Tai's collected literary works, entitled Hsi-k'u chai chi (集), 12 chüan, comprising 8 chüan of verse and 4 of prose, were first printed in 1866. He was also known as a calligrapher.

[1/405/3a; 2/41/49a; 5/54/7b; 19 kêng hsia 1a; 20/4/00 (portrait); Hangchow fu-chih (1922) 131/17a; L.T.C.L.H.M. 452–53.]

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