Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tung Ch'i-ch'ang

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3658550Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 2 — Tung Ch'i-ch'angFang Chao-ying

TUNG Ch'i-ch'ang 董其昌 (T. 玄宰, H. 思白, 香光), Feb. 10, 1555–1636, Aug.–Sept., Ming official, calligrapher and painter, was a native of Shanghai. He registered in the prefectural rehool at Sungkiang and later made his home in that city. He became a chin-shih in 1589 and was made a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy where he later served as a compiler. In 1594 he was appointed a tutor to Chu Ch'ang-lo [q. v.] who, twenty-six years later, became Emperor. In 1596 he was sent to Changsha to represent the Emperor at the ceremonies that took place when a member of the Imperial Family succeeded to a princedom. The following year he was sent to Kiangsi to conduct the provincial examinations. In 1599 he was appointed an assistant to the provincial judge of Hu-kuang, serving concurrently as commissioner of education of that province. It is said that this dual office, although a promotion in rank, was regarded by him as a humiliation, and that he was assigned to it because he had failed to cultivate the favor of a powerful clique in the government. It is reported that he pleaded illness and retired rather than assume the office. Be that as it may, he did not remain long in retirement; he emerged in 1604 to take the very post—commissioner of education of Hu-kuang—which he had previously declined. In 1605, when he was conducting an examination at Huangkang, a group of students demonstrated against him. It was found, after an official investigation, that the demonstration was unwarranted. He was freed from all responsibility for the disorderly conduct of the students, but he tendered his resignation, and returned home.

For seventeen years (1605–22) Tung Ch'i-ch'ang lived in retirement, but in those years he was several times called upon to serve as: intendant of the Tengchow-Laichow Circuit in Shantung; assistant to the provincial judge of Fukien (?); and assistant to the financial commissioner of Honan. Though he is said to have declined all these posts, it is known that on one occasion he used the title of assistant to the financial commissioner of Honan as part of his official rank. In 1622 he was summoned to Peking and received appointment as director of the Court of Sacrificial Worship. As this was the time when the "veritable records" (shih-lu) of the Ming Emperor Shên-tsung (see under Chu Ch'ang-lo) were being compiled, he was made one of the directors of the compilation. He was sent to Nanking to study the documentary materials preserved in the archives of the southern capital, and from these he compiled a work of three hundred manuscript volumes comprising important documents of the Wan-li period. During his stay there he was appointed a vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies. Early in 1624 he presented his compilation to the throne and was commended for it. At the same time he presented another work, entitled 神廟留中奏疏彙要 Shên-miao liu-chung tsou-shu hui-yao, 40 chüan, comprising memorials which Emperor Shên-tsung had neglected to read or had purposely excluded from publication. This latter work was printed in 1937, from a manuscript copy, by the Yenching University Library.

Upon his return to Peking, in 1624, Tung found officialdom torn by a political strife in which he wished to have no part. On the one side, were the followers of the unscrupulous eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien [q. v.]; and on the other, the officials who had joined the Tung-lin party (see under Chang P'u and Huang Tsung-hsi). He therefore gladly accepted, in 1625, the presidency of the Board of Ceremonies in Nanking—a post of high prestige, but with no power. A year later he quietly resigned from this post and retired. In 1627 the last Ming Emperor, Chu Yu-chien [q. v.], brought the eunuch party to justice and the offenders were punished. Tung's name escaped untarnished and he was congratulated for his foresight. Late in 1631 he was ordered to go to Peking where he was named head of the Supervisorate of Instruction of the Heir Apparent. He arrived the following spring and served in that capacity for two years. After repeated requests to be retired on the ground of old age, he was finally granted the privilege in 1634. He died two years later and was buried southwest of Soochow near Lake T'ai, on a hill named Yü-yang shan 漁洋山. A year after his death he was given the posthumous title of Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent, and a temple was erected to his memory in Sungkiang. In 1644 he was given the posthumous name, Wên-min 文敏, by the Prince of Fu (see under Chu Yu-sung).

During his lifetime Tung Ch'i-ch'ang enjoyed great fame as a calligrapher and painter, and after his death his fame increased, not only because of the excellence of his work, but because Emperors Shêng-tsu and Kao-tsung were enthusiastic imitators of his calligraphy. In 1705 when Emperor Shêng-tsu, in the course of his fifth tour of South China, stayed in the compound of the provincial commander-in-chief, Chang Yün-i 張雲翼 (T. 鵬扶, son of Chang Yung, q.v.), he wrote an essay commenting on Tung's art. He also caused a tablet (pien 扁) to be made for the temple dedicated to him, and conferred a minor official title on one of his descendants. Two generations later Emperor Kao-tsung became an accomplished calligrapher, in Tung's recognized style, as did also many of his courtiers. This Emperor also collected a large number of Tung's paintings.

If we are to accept at face value Tung's account, he developed his calligraphic and artistic skill in the following manner. When he was seventeen (sui), he and a cousin together took the annual examination at the prefectural school in Sungkiang. Confident that his papers would win him first honors, he was amazed, on the contrary, to find that his cousin, whom he had considered his inferior, was first on the list, and that he himself was second. The examiner explained that his papers were excellent, but that his handwriting was poor. Taking this rebuff to heart, Tung made up his mind to excel in calligraphy. He began by imitating facsimiles of the great masters, such as Yen Chên-ch'ing (see under Ho Shao-chi) and Yü Shih-nan 虞世南 (T. 伯施, 558–638), and later by practicing in the styles of Chung Yu (see under Chiang Ch'ên-ying) and Wang Hsi-chih (see under Ch'ên Chao-lun). After three years of hard preparation he could begin to take pride in his writing, despite the fact that the facsimiles he was using were not the best. Fortunately he had an opportunity, in his early twenties, to be employed by the great collector, Hsiang Yüan-pien (see under An Ch'i), in the latter's home in Kashing, Chekiang. After studying Hsiang's many specimens of original calligraphy and painting, and his rubbings of ancient calligraphy taken from stone, he improved his technique, with the result that in the cursive (行書) and draft (草書) forms in particular, he evolved a style of his own. By the time he became a chin-shih, at the age of thirty-five (sui), he was a recognized master of calligraphy.

In the field of painting Tung Ch'i-ch'ang did not achieve quite the originality that he did in calligraphy. He often imitated the works of Tung Yüan (see under Tung Pang-ta), Chü-jan 巨然 (10th century), Mi Fei (see under Mi Wan-chung), and Huang Kung-wang 黃公望 (T. 子久, 1269–1354)—all representative of the free and easy styles of the literary artists. In such modes he could, with a few well-chosen strokes of his brush, satisfy the requests of his friends or the demands of his creditors. This perhaps explains why he frequently expressed dislike of the meticulous care used by such artists as Li Ssŭ-hsün (see under Huang Tsung-yen) and Chao Mêng-fu 趙孟頫 (T. 子昴, H. 松雪, 1254–1322). To complete a painting in Li's style required more time and concentration than Tung cared to devote to it. Being goodnatured, and at times financially dependent on his art, he had to satisfy as many demands as possible. It is said that at least two artists who could imitate his styles—namely, Wu I 吳易 (T. 素友) in calligraphy, and Chao Tso 趙左 (T. 文度) in painting—were at one time or another in his employ. It seems that some works bearing his signature were actually made by these and other less-known artists.

A collection of writings by Tung Ch'i-ch'ang, entitled 容臺集 Jung-t'ai chi, consisting of 9 chüan of prose, 4 chüan of verse, and 4 chüan of miscellaneous pieces, was made by his grandson Tung T'ing 董庭, and published with a preface by his close friend, Ch'ên Chi-ju [q. v.], dated 1630. Three works on painting, entitled 畫禪室隨筆 Hua-ch'an shih sui-pi, 畫旨 Hua chih, and 畫眼 Hua-yen, have been published under Tung's name, but these consist chiefly of his annotations, and nearly all the information in them appears in the third part of the Jung-t'ai chi. Of the 155 comments in the latter work, 63 appear in the Hua-ch'an shih sui-pi. These three works on painting contain many paragraphs which are known to have been taken from a work, entitled 畫說 Hua-shuo, compiled by a contemporary and fellow-townsman, Mo Shih-lung 莫是龍 (T. 雲卿, H. 秋水). The priority of Mo's work can be established by the fact that it was published in the Pao-yen t'ang pi-chi (see under Ch'ên Chi-ju), about twenty years before Tung died. Tung's collected works were compiled much later by his admirers, and perhaps even by irresponsible, book-sellers. A list of his paintings and writings, with colophons and detailed descriptions, entitled 董華亭書畫錄 Tung Hua-t'ing shu-hua lu, appeared in 1896 in the Ling-chien ko ts'ung-shu (see under Ho Ch'iu-t'ao).

In his later private life Tung Ch'i-ch'ang seems to have resorted to some of the high-handed practices of the landed gentry of his day. His behavior was perhaps not worse than that of other landlords; but one incident, cited in contemporary works, and in old manuscripts recently discovered, may be noted. In April 1616 several women who came to his home with grievances were beaten and insulted. The local populace became incensed, and on April 30 a mob attacked his home, set it on fire, and pillaged for two days. He and his family escaped with their lives, but the house was razed to the ground. The case was settled when a few known miscreants were executed as ringleaders of the mob and several students were dismissed from the local school for their part in the demonstration. For his own loss, including many treasured paintings and other works of art, Tung was never compensated. A collection of the documents relating to the case, entitled 民抄董宦紀實 Min-ch'ao Tung-huan chi-shih, was printed in 1924 in the Yu-man-lou ts'ung-shu (see under Wan Ssŭ-t'ung) from old manuscripts.

Some of the examples of calligraphy that were once in the possession of Tung Ch'i-ch'ang were reproduced from rubbings taken from stone, and published in the work, 戲鴻堂法帖 Hsi-hung t'ang fa-t'ieh. His own handwritings were reproduced in various collections, among them Pao-ting chai (寶鼎齋) fa-t'ieh and the T'ung-lung kuan (銅龍館) t'ieh. A catalog, entitled 玄賞齋書目 Hsüan-shang chai shu-mu, printed from manuscripts in 1932, is said to be a list of the books in his library.

[M.1/288/10b; M.64/kêng 7/1a; M.65/4/7b; M.84/ting-hsia/57b; Shanghai hsien chih (1871) 19/24a; Wu-hsien chih (1933) 40/24a; Lou-hsien chih (1788) 13/15a, 23/9b; Hua-t'ing hsien chih (1878) 6/12a, 20/25a; Yü Shao-sung, Shu-hua shu-lu chieh-t'i (see bibl. under An Ch'i) 3/21b, 3/25b, 7/9b; Chu I-tsun [q. v.], P'u-shu t'ing chi 16/11a; Shên Ping-hsün, 權齋老人筆記 Ch'üan-chai lao-jên pi-chi (in Chia-yeh t'ang ts'ung-shu) 3/llb; Hsieh Kuo-chên, "A Study of the Slave Revolt in Late Ming Times" (in Chinese), Tsing-hua Journal, vol. VIII, no. 1 (1932), pp. 11–14; Ch'ang-ch'u chai sui-pi (hsü-pi, see under Wei I-chieh) 9/1a; Hung-li [q. v.], Yü-chih shih êr-chi 38/22b, 55/15a, 80/2b, 82/20b; Portrait in Kuo-ts'ui hsüeh-pao (see under Liu Yü-sung), third year; Ch'ên Chi-ju [q. v.], Wan-hsiang t'ang hsiao-p'in (小品) 15/6a, 16/27a; Ch'in Tsu-yung 秦祖永, 桐陰論畫 Tung-yin lun-hua; Shao Sung-nien 邵松年, 古綠萃錄 Ku-yüan ts'ui-lu 5/25a; Lu Hsin-yüan [q. v.], Jang-li kuan kuo-yen lu 24/17a; Mao Hsiang [q. v.], T'ung-jên chi 3/85a; 明貢舉考略 Ming kung-chü k'ao-lüeh 2/24b; T'an Ch'ien 談遷, 國榷 Kuo-chüeh; Ku Ling 顧苓, 金陵野鈔 Chin-ling yeh-ch'ao, p. 9a; Ts'ao Chia-chü 曹家駒, 說夢 Shuo-mêng 2/2b, 7a.]

Fang Chao-ying