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Monumenta Serica
Journal of Oriental Studies
ISSN: 0254-9948 (Print) 2057-1690 (Online) Journal homepage:
Notes on T'ang Culture, III
Edward H. Schafer
To cite this article: Edward H. Schafer (1972) Notes on T'ang Culture, III, Monumenta Serica,
30:1, 100-116, DOI: 10.1080/02549948.1972.11731079
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Published online: 27 Apr 2016.
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1. Images of Hsüan Tsung
Some years ago 1 published a short article about the vogue
for the worship of images of the Chinese monarch which persisted
from about the seventh to the eleventh century.l My composite
picture, made up of random instances, fa i! ed in a very important
respect. It overlooked entirely the most significant example of
royal iconolatry in the T'ang period, despite the fact that this example had been pointed out long before by Paul Demiêville. 2 Professor Demiéville had provided excellent documentation , including
some obscure Buddhist sources, to illustrate a gigantic project,
midway through the reign of Hsüan Tsung, aimed at the construction or modification of Buddhist monasteries throughout the empire ,
and simultaneously of Taoist friaries (the latter is a term 1 have
transiently adopted as a paraphrase of kuan 舰). These establishments were called K'ai-y归n szu and K'α句伽n kuα饥 respectively
- named for the flourishing reign of Hsüan Tsung, during whose
last year they were erected or renamed. The weight of the evidence indicates that the decree establishing these institutions went
forth in 741 , but it is unclear how soon thereafter they could be
identified , as decreed , in each county (chou +1 or ch必饵郡) of the
realm. 3 It is suggestive of the great interest that Hsüan Tsung
* Two earlier sets of .. Notes on T'ang Culture" appeared in Monume侃ta Serica 21
(1962): 194-221 and 24 (1965): 130一154.
1) E. H. Schafer , "The T'ang Imperial Icon ," Sinologicα7 (1963): 1邱-160. Se e
especially p. 158 for a Taoist image of Hsüan Tsung. - Since composing this article 1
have found a reference to images of a Taoist trinity in a palace in the eastern capital.
They were made in 846, during the reign of Wu Tsung, and consisted of Lao tzu,
Hsüan Tsung and Su Tsung. See Chiu T'a饵g shu, 18a, 16a.
2) Paul Demiéville. "Les versions chinoises du Milindapa百 ha," Bulleti饵 de l'Ecole
Fra饵çaise d' Extrême-O俨ient 24 (1924): 183-184; Le concile de Lhasa; une contro哑erse
sur le quiétisme entre bouddhiste8 de l'lnde et de la Ch切e au viii' øiècle de l'ère
chrétie饵饵e, 1 (Pari目, 1952), p. 213.
3) _ Demiéville, 1924, p. 183 cites a Buddhist source saying that this order was
promulga ted in 738.
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was now taking in the promotion of Taoism that it was also in 741
that the sovereign ordered every county in the realm to establish
a Lao-tzu temple , styled Hsüαn y'必αn huαng ti miω 玄元皇帝庸 4
In the late spring or early summer of 744, a further mandate came
down from the throne ordering the casting of images of the highest
Taoist deity (" Heaven-Honored" one 天尊) and of the Buddha , and
thirdly of Hsüan Tsung himself, these to be gilded, and both the
bronze and the gold to be supplied by the government.5 A Buddhist
source6 adds the curious information that the emperor was shown
wearing a composite costume combining Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian elements. These statues were to be placed in K'ai-yüan
monasteries and friaries throughout the nation. Although some of
the available texts use ambiguous language , it appears that each
religious establishment, whether Taoist or Buddhist, was required
to install one of each kind of image. In other words , a kind of
syncretism was being forced on the two religions , with Hsüan Tsung
representing the third "teaching," that of the "Confucian" sages ,
to bind them together/ The great monarch seems to have been
obsessed with the name of his reign , K'ai yüan , which means approximately "A new era is opened!" It is reported that he desired
to have the two characters carved on a mountain peak in gigantic
form , and inset with white stone so that it would be visible from
afar. This precursor of Mt. Rushmore , glorifying a prosperous and
religious epoch was , at least, not personal aggrandizement like the
tombs and statues of the pharaohs, but a slogan embodying the
vision of an era of spiritual regeneration , rather like "Jesus saves !"
In any event, Hsüan Tsung was dissuaded by his advisors from
carrying out this ambitious project. 8
4) Chiu T'a饵g shu, 9, 4a. In the following year these shrines were renamed Tai
sha饵g h8Üan 例ωn hua饵g ti ku饵g 太上立元皇帝宫.
5) Chiu T'a饵.g sh饵, 9, 6a. This source mentions only the Buddhist and Taoist
images; but T'a饵g hui yao, 50, 880 (Ts'饵 ng-shu ch也ch'eng ed.) adds the figure of the
monarch. There is also a discrepancy in the dates.
6) The same one mentioned by Demi的 ille in note 3 above.
7) P'an-chou 潘州 in Lingnan was unique in having two statues of Hsüan Tsung,
because Kao Li-shih 高力士 had an extra one cast to give special honor to his native
place. T'ai p'切.g hua饵例 chi 太卒寰宇函, 161, llb.
The great ministers Li Lin-fu 李林甫 and Ch'en Hsi-lieh 睐~开!! were singularly
honored in A.D. 746, when their images were carved in stone and placed next that of
Hsüan Tsung in the T'ai -c h'ing Palace 太清宫 . Chiu T'ang 8hu , 9, 7a.
8) K'ω 嗣a饵 ch'ua饵 hsin chi 阔无傅信言己 quoted in T'ω p'切g kua饵g chi 太卒
397, 3a.
Many of these royal simulacra vanished soon after the deposition of Hsüan Tsung , but Professor Demiéville has noted that a
bronze image of the sovereign still fascinated sight-seers at Shachou 沙州 (Tun-huang) in A. D. 880 , although its counterparts had
already disappeared from the other counties of Ho-hsi 河西 (named
Kan-chou 甘州, Liang-chou 凉州, Kua-chou 瓜州 and Su-chou 南
because of barbarian depredations. 9 It is the chief purpose of
the present note to list some other instances of the survival of other
images of the divine king. 1 have gleaned these from the pages of
the Yü ti chi sheng 舆地祀腾. Since the latter is a Southern
Sung work , it does not cover the northern provinces held by the
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Yüan-chou 袁川、I
Ch'en-chou 辰州
T'ing-chou 汀州
Ho-chou 合川、|
Wan-chou 离州
Lang-chou 固川、I
Pαge 俨吃f.
In K'ω-yüan szu
26 , 19b
Cast and gilded in the T'ienpao 天雪 era; not moved
to its present location in a
Taoist friary until A. D. 1074
71 , 6a
Another , at Ch'ien-yang 黔
院 hsie饵, in a Buddhist monastery
71 , 6a
In a Taoist friary
75 , 7a
Said to have been originally
in a Taoist friary
132, 7a
In a Taoist friary said not
to have been founded until
159, 9a
In a Taoist friary
177, 6b
In a Taoist friary
185, 10a
Another in K'ω-yi阳n szu 185, 10a
It is possible that in some instances the traditional identification
of these bronze statues as old representations of T'ang Hsüan
Tsung is false. In other cases it is certain the image had been
moved from its original site. But it is highly probable that a
Demiéville , 1952, pp. 213-214.
majority of the images in this list were authentic eighth-century
portraits of the monarch , piously preserved in remote parts of
south China for half a millenium.
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Sourc回 of
The technological revolution that marked the beginning of the
" Bronze Age" depended upon a simple but not obvious discovery:
" . . . As pure copper can only be cast in an open mould , additions
were made which increase the fluidity , and of these additions tin
proved to be the most useful , so that in course of time bronze
superseded copper and its alloys with arsenic and antimony."lO The
possibilities of this process became evident to the proto-Chinese at
a reasonably early date , although not so early as elsewhere in Asia.
They experimented successfully with various alloys of copper, and
in time settled upon a functional allotment of them - more lead in
" bronze" for making mirrors , more tin in "bronze" for making
weapons. The question as to whether arsenic was added to the
melt purposely or was an accidental ingredient of the ore is disputed. l1
Not much is known about the tin mines of ancient China. The
Chou li (Chih fang shih 服方民) states that both copper and tin
came from the southeast (YIαng-chou 拇州), but this information is
even more imprecise than references to mysterious mountains given
as sources for the metal by the 8han hai ch切g.12
The first clear reference to the location of tin deposits occurs
in a text of the early sixth century A. D. , when the Taoist doctοr
T' ao H ung-ching 陶弘景 places them squarely in Kwangsi , near
the Ho 贺 River.
This region was soon to become the center of
10) Cecil H. Desch , .. The Origin of Bronze ," Transactio侃 8 of the Newcome饵 Society
14 (1933-34): 95-102.
11) Tinfoil was also used in appliqu创 decoration on Chou ceramics. See, for instance, Isaac Newton , .. Tinfoil as a decoration on Chou pottery ," Tra饵sactio 侃s of the
O州e 饵tal Ceγ'amic Soc化 ty 25 (1949/50): 65-69. After long burial this material has been
transformed into hydrous tin oxide.
12) Four mountains in the Chung shan ch切g 中山经; three of these refer to "red
tin," an expression whose meaning is unclear.
13) M切 g i pieh lu 明警5] IJ 镑, et a l., quoted in Pen ts'ao kang mu 本草炯目, 8, 33a.
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Chinese production.
That indefatigable collector of rare information in the ninth
century, Tuan Ch'eng-shih 段成式, learned that tin and copper
deposits could be found underneath growths of the ginger plant. 14
This observation is a crude anticipation of modern geochemical prospecting, based on the presence of trace elements in the soil favorable to the growth of specific plants. (The dependence of ginger
upon the presence of copper and tin ions has yet to be demonstrated. It is worth noting , however, that copper and tin do occur
together in stannite [CuZFeSnS4] , a secondary ore of tin.)
The chief mineral of tin is cassiterite (Sn0 2) , popularly called
"tinstone." It is virtually certain that this was the prime source
of T'ang tin , and it was all , or almost all , derived from small pebbles and grains in alluvial deposits at Lin-ho 陆贺, the very place
mentioned long before by T'ao Hung-ching. Conveniently close to
these mines in mid-T'ang times were two smelters (νeh 冶), named
Tung-yu 束避 and Lung-chung 菌中 16
It is curious that these deposits are not mentioned in the T'ang
shu among the lists of regularly demanded "local tribute ," which
included many valued metals, nor are they named among the officially supervised mines , among which were sources of copper, lead
and gold. 17 But in view of the statement in a contemporary text
that the natives of Ho-chou 黄州 made much profit from these excavations ,l8 it appears likely that the failure of the T'αηg shu to
list tin mines and smelters means simply that, unlike those for
other useful metals , they were not held under government monopoly.
At any rate , this one small region provided all the tin used by the
T'ang empire. 19 The reason for the exemption is as yet unknown.
14) Yu 苗。叼 tsa t仰自惕雄姐, 16, 126-7 (Ts'u叼-shu ch i- ch'eng ed.).
15) See, for instance, D. Carlisle and G. B. Cleveland, Plants as α Guide to M-切eral­
ization (State of California Division of Mines, Special Report 50, San Francisco, 1958).
16) Li Chi-fu 李吉甫 , Yüa饵-ho ch笛n hsien ch伪元和郡脐志, 34, 1以)6; 37, 1侃2
(Ts'ung-shu ch i-ch'e饵g ed.); cf. T'ang sh饵, 54,也.
17) E. H. Schafer and B. E. Wallacker, .. Local Tribute Products of the T'ang
D归lasty," J ou伊饵al of Oriental Studies 4 (1957/58): 213-248.
18) Yüa饵 ho ch伪, 37 , 1042; E. H. Schafer, The Vermilio饵 B伽d: T'a饵g Images of
the South (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967), p. 164.
19) So says Su Kung 赢恭 et a l., T'ang pen t矿ao 唐本草, quoted in Pe饵 ts'αo ka叼
饥帆 8, 33a.
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The men of T'ang knew that there were tin deposits in the
central highlands of Hainan island; the pious pilgrim Chien-chen
锺具 reported that the wild Li people wore hair ornaments made
from that metal. But these potential resources - cassiterite crystals
weathered out of mica schists - were in hostile territory inaccessible to the medieval Chinese. 20
Production figures for T'ang tin , unlike those for other metals,
are not plentiful. The official annual take was 50,000 catties in
806; this decreased to 17,000 catties by 836. In the same interval
production of silver, copper and iron all showed large increases. 21
It is not easy to guess the reason for this decline , although it may
be related to the depletion of ancient tin resources in central or
north China, before the systematic development of the still remote
Ho-chou deposits , or to the massive aboriginal uprisings in Lingnan
during this period ,2 2 which could have led to the temporary abandonment of the mines.
The technology of producing metallic tin from the native ore
was the relatively simple one of reduction by heating with charcoal
to remove the oxygen. 23 Once recovered , the metal found its way
intοthe several areas of T'ang culture that had a need for it. We
cannot surmise the amount employed in everyday household artifacts
- lamps and ewers, for instance. The Taoist alchemists employed
tin in their mysterious amalgams , such as "silver tallow ," apparently an amalgam of silver, tin and mercury , which was prescribed
as a general tonic and source of vitality for the credulous. 24 Much
more significant was the vast amount of metal , particularly copper,
tin , gold and iron , tied up in the innumerable holy images and
gigantic beIl s and bronze chimes in the great Buddhist monasteries.
Incredible quantities of these massive artifacts were melted down
during the great persecution of foreign religions in and around 845 ,
but no precise figures are available. The yield from this source
20) E. H. Schafer, Shore of Pearls (Berkeley and London , 1970) , 37, 65.
21) T'a饵g sh饵, 54, 4a-4b.
组) Se e Schafer, Vermilion Bi叫, 64-66.
23) Li Ch'iao田p'ing, The Chemical A俨ts olOld China (Easton, Pa. , 1948), pp.47-48.
24) E. H. Schafer, The Golden Peaches 01 Sama俨'kand: A Study 01 T'a饵g Exot化s
(Berkeley and LOB Angeles, 1963) , p. 256 , based on T'ang pe饵 ts'ao.
seems to have been chiefly converted into coinage , which was more
and more in demand after the conversion to a money economy in
the eighth century.25
The standard coins of the T'ang period , the K'ai切切~ t'ungcirculated both before and after the K'ai-yüan reign
of Hsüan Tsung , consisted mainly of copper , with an admixture of
15% lead and 2% tin. These were supplemented by local issues
of varying composition. 26 Debased metal currencies appeared here
and there from time to time , both as government issues and as
informal (" forged ") issues. Among these were iron coins , lead coins ,
and tin coins , and all manner of combinations of these metals. 27
Zinc seems 切 have been only an accidental ingredient before Sung
times. 28 In these mintings tin seems to have played an increasingly
minor part, while lead , originally added to the melt to help its
fluidity , gradually replaced it as an important element in bronze ,
possibly because of the tin shortage.
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pαo 阔无通责,
In the twentieth century almost all Chinese tin comes from the
great cassiterite mines of Ko-chiu 笛蕾, west of Meng-tzu 蒙自 in
southern Yunnan. These are ancient alluvial deposits consolidated
on a limestone bedrock , not live placers. 29 The T'ang histories do
not mention these lodes , which were then controlled (but perhaps
not discovered) by the Tibeto-Burman peoples of the foreign state
of Nan-chao. Tin was scarce in T'ang times , and its best source
was Ho-chou.
There is a great literature on this subject. See , for instance , Tzu chih t'ung
248, 8b; T'a饵g hui yao , 49 , 861 , 864; Kenneth Ch'en, .. The Economic Background
of the Hui-ch'ang Suppression of Buddhism ," Harvard Jour饨al 01 Asiatic Studies 19
(1956): 67-105, esp. p. 88; Jacques Gernet , Les aspects éco饵omiques du Bouddhisme
dans la société chinoise du 俨 au x e siècles (Publications de l'Ecole Française d'ExtrémeOrient 39, Saigon , 1956).
26) Robert Hartwell , .. The Evolution of the Early Northern Sung Monetary System ,
A. D. 960-1025," Journal af the America忧。俨iental Society 87 (1967): 280-289.
27) T'ang shu , 54 , 4b-8b; Chiu T'但饵g shu , 48 , passim.
28) Wang Chin 王珑, .. Wu-chu-ch'ien hua-hsüeh ch'eng-fen chi ku-tai ying-yung
ch'ien hsi hsin la k'ao" 五敛钱化事成分及市代朦用 m 锡辞锺考 , K'o-h 8'Üeh 科婴 8
(1923): 839.
29) Ch'en To ~.束鲤 , Chung-kuo k'uωtg-wu le饵-pu t'u 中圄磺物分布圃 (Shanghai ,
1935); Sydney Fawns, Tin Deposits 01 the 阿Torld (3rd ed. , London , [n.d.]) , pp. 182-3;
Charles L. Mantell , Ti饵: Its Mining , Productio弛, Technolog白血nd Applicat旬 ns (New
Y ork , 1929) , p. 69.
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3. The Redbud in Horticulture
The name ching 荆 stands for a number of similar but botanically unrelated shrubs, among them one or more species of
V itex (" yellow ch切g 勺, and probably a Bα饥hiniα(" golden ching 勺 30
Above all the name was applied to a Ceγcis (" purple ching ).31 This
plant is sometimes known in English as "Judas Tree ," but it also
familar as the "redbud." In America as in Asia the shrubby tree
is admired for its heart-shaped leaves and its handsome show of
purplish pea-like flowers. It is described in the T'ang pharmacopoeia
of Ch'en Ts'ang-ch'i 隙藏器: "When mature they are true purple;
the round seeds are like beads , hence the name ‘ purple bead.'
Among the forests and marshlands of Chiang-tung i工束 [from
Chekiang northward to the Yangtze] they are particularly abundant."32
Many new plants were introduced to cultivation in the T'ang
period. Conspicuous among them are the tree-peony and the azalea户 1 have wondered for some time whether the beautiful redbud
was also a T'ang introduction. The evidence for Northern Sung
is overwhelming; several encyclopaedic sources state that it was
then commonly planted in gardens and courtyards. 34
The evidence for T'ang is not so readily accessible , but it is
conclusive. In a poem entitled "Seeing the Flowers of the Purple
ching ," Wei Ying-wu 章醺物 (A. D. 735-835) wrote of the flowering
redbuds in his garden lasting through the spring产 Yüan Chen 元
慎 (A. D. 779-831) has left a quatrain about a redbud (he calls it
" red ching" 一 presumably the same plant or one of the same genus)
30) See the discussion in Schafer, Vermilion Biγd, p. 172.
31) Besides tzu ch切g 紫荆, the Chinese redbud was known in T'ang times as T'ie侃
shih ch伪 ch切g 田氏之荆 "ch仰g of the T'ien Clansman."
32) Quoted in Pe饵 ts'ao kang mu , 36 , 50b.
33) See E. H. Schafer, .. Li Te-yü and the Azalea," Asiatische Studie饵 18/19 (1965) :
105-114, for these and other examples.
34) T'如饵g chih , 76 , 877a; K'ou Tsung-shih 寇宗费 , Peπ ts'ao ye饵 4 本章衍章是 (A.D.
1116) , quoted in Pe忧 ts'ao kaηg mu , 36 , 50b; Cheng ho cheng lei pen ts'ao 政和鼓颊
本草, 14, 38a.
35) Wei Ying-wu , .. Chien tzu ching hua ,"侃 'üan T'a叼 shih , han 3, ts'e 7, chüan
8, 8a.
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that he had cultivated himself. 36 Finally , the garden of the Ch'angan residence of Tuan Ch'eng-shih (A. D. ?-863) was planted with
redbuds. 37 The domestication of the redbud seems to have taken
place in the late eighth century. In this , as in so many other
things , the late T'ang was a period of innovation and creativity in
4. "Prince T'eng's Gallery ": A New Interpretation
In reassessing the meaning of Wang Po's 王勃 (A. D. 650-676)
famous poem , T'eng wα饵g ko 滕王固, both in detail and in the
overall , 1 have rejected the traditional view of it, well represented
in a variety of "translations" into European languages. 1 have
presumed to attempt this perilous feat in the belief that it could
be brought off only by relying on close attention to the structure
of the poem , great care for syntactical relationships (which reveal
the poet's ingenuity in the use of language) , reliance on the importance of parallelism, and analysis of the poet's intent in introducing a number of allusions to the poetry of classical antiquity. In
short, form and meaning must be treated as interrelated; syntax
and style as interfused. The poet, it seems, was more sensitive
and clever than his latter-day interpreters have suspected.
A representative but conventional version is the early one of
the Marquis d'Hervey-Saint-Denys , to which most later translations
Le roi de Teng avait, près des iles du grand fleuve , un pavillon élevé.
A la ceinture du roi dansaient de belles pièces de jade, et des clochettes
d'or chantaient de 回 n char.
Le jade a ce田é de danser, les clochettes ne se font plus entendre,
Le palais n'est plus visité que , le matin, par les vapeurs du rivage et,
le soir , par la pluie qui ronge les stores en lambeaux.
Des nuages paresseux se promènent lentement, en se mirant dans les
eaux limpides.
Tout marche , rien n'est immuable; les astres eux-mêmes ont un cours.
36) Yüan Chen , .. Hung ching," Ch'也a饵 T'a饵g øhih , ha饵 6 , t8'e 10, chüan 21 , 3b.
37) E. H. Schafer, .. The Last Years of Ch'ang-an ," 0rie7UJ Extremuø 10 (1963): 133179, p. 152, citing T'a叼 l侃侃g ch仰g ch'eng fa饵g k'ao 唐雨京城坊考, 3, 76.
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Combien d'autοmnes a-t-il passé sur ce palais 1 Le jeune roi l'habitait
jadis, où donc est-il 1
Il a contemplé comme nous ce grand fleuve , qui roule toujours ses flots
muets et profonds."88
Before getting on to the heart of the problem , the reader may
also be interested in a more popular version - my favorite - which
can only be classified as fantasy inspired by shadowy translations
of the origina l.
By L. Cranmer-Byng
There looms a lordly pleasure-tower o'er yon dim shore,
Raised by some King of Tang.
Jade pendants at his girdle clashed, and golden bells
Around his chariot rang.
Strange guests through sounding halls at dawn go trailing by ,
Grey mists and mocking winds;
And sullen brooding tw i1ights break in rain on rain ,
To lash the ragged blinds.
The slow , sun-dappled clouds lean down o'er waters blue ,
Clear mirrored one by one;
Then drift 田 all the world shall drift. The very stars
Their timeless courses run.
How many autumn moons have steeped those palace walls!
And paled the shattered beams!
What is their royal builder now 1 A Lo rd of dust 1
An Emperor of dreams 189
38) Le Marquis d'Hervey-Saint-Denys, Poé8ie8 de l'époque de8 Thang
(训萨, viii' et
mcles de notre ère); traduite8 du chinois pour la p俨'emiè何 fois avec 侃侃e étude sur
l'时t poétique en chinois et des note8 explicative8 (Paris, 1857).
39) L. Cranmer-Byng, A Fea8t 01 Lanterns (1st ed. , London, 1916). Other wellknown translations are those of Judith Gauthier, Le liv何 de jade: poésies traduites
du chi饵ois (enlarged ed. , Paris, preface of 1901); Hans Bethge, Pjir8ÌC hblüten aus Chi饵E
(Berlin , 1922); Henry H. Hart, A Ga俨'den of Peo忧ies: Tra饵slations 01 Chi饵e8e Poems
切to English Veγ'se (Stanford , 1938). Bethge's versions of T'ang poetry were employed
by Gustav Mahler in the text for his Das Lied 甘 0 11, der Erde. His" Der Pavi11 0n des
jungen Königs," is particularly interesting, in that it faithfully follows the French
paraphrase of Mlle Gauthier.
Cheered by this confection , it is hoped , the reader may now try to
find Wang Po's poem as it really was.
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Each verse will be explicated separately , as follows:
Chinese text
transla tion
2) The Prince of T'eng's high gallery overlooked the Kiang
and its holms (or , a holm in the Kiang).
3) The Prince of T'eng was Li Yüan-ying 李元婴, the twentysecond son of T'ang Kao Tsu. In the third decade of the seventh
century he was stationed at Hung-chou 洪州 (Nan-ch'ang 南昌) in
Kiangsi as its "Metropolitan Inspector" (部督). Here he had a
"gallery" erected looking out on Lake P'o-yang 都陆湖, apparently
for intimate gatherings and fetes. In 671 , his successor Yen Po-yü
固伯琪, having restored the building , gave a great banquet in it.
The young Wang Po was invited 切 the rededication , and wrote
this poem on that occasion. 40 Immediately after the caesura a
supernatural element appears on the scene , in the form of referencesωtwo ancient poems. The word chu 语" holm; small island
in a river" might not in itself remind one of the line 帝子降兮
北诸 from "Hsiang fu jen" 湘夫人 (one of the "Nine Songs" in
the Ch'u tz划, were it not the phrase ti tzu 帝子 also occurs in
the seventh line of Wang Po's poem. The domain of the Hsiang
goddess was the great Kiang River , its attached lakes (but Tungt'ing more than P'o-yang) , and the islands in them. The original
" north holm" was the site of a temple (湘山祠) on the north shore
of Lake Tung-t'ing 洞庭湖 .41 The last three words in this line are
a quotation from an old Yüeh fu (in the category "Songs for Divine
40) Wa叼 Tzu-a忧 chi chu 王子安集注, 3, 9a. Commentary of Chiang Ch'ing-i ,
based on Ch切 T'a叼 shu; Wong Man , "Prologue to ‘ Prince T'eng's Pavilion ,''' Eastern
Horizo悦 2/8 (August , 1962): 21-28. Han YÜ 肆愈 wrote that it was restored in 819.
See Han Y毡, "Hsin hsiu T'eng wang ko chi" (新修滕王阁~), Ch'üa饵 T'ang we饵,
557 , 5a-6a.
41) See Fujino Iwatomo 藤野后友 , Fukei bungaku-ro饵 -Soji 0 ch面shin to shite
巫系文~~:命一楚辞安中心之 Lτ(Tokyo, 1951) , p. 144.
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Strings," Shen hsien ko 神弦歌): "The Young Gentleman of White
Rock dwells looking out on the Kiang" (白石郎晦江居)产 This
last is a poem with shamanistic elements, reminiscent of "The Sire
of the Ho" (Ho po 河伯) in the "Nine Songs" of the Ch'u tz'u. In
the Yüeh fu poem this great deity of the Yellow River is transformed into "The Sire of the Kiang" (Ch侃侃g po 江伯). Taken
altogether these allusions indicate that Wang PO was suggesting
an identification of the lordly builder of the rich pavilion with the
great deity of the Kiang , whether male or female. (Note also the
appearance of the mysterious "Young Gentleman of White Rock ,"
seemingly a water spirit, in Li Ho's 李贺 poem "Ti tzu ko" 帝子
歌 "Song on God's Child ," i. e. in a poem on the same theme as
this of Wang Po's.) In summation , in this first verse , the poet has
already suggested spiritual and poetic connections among "Sire of
the Ho ," "Sire of the Kiang ," "God's child ," "Young Gentleman
of White Rock ," and , presumably , "The Prince of T'eng." The
gallery is a replica of the underwater palace of the river deity.
4) Once a splendid pavilion , built by the Prince of T'eng , stood
looking out over a holy island in a lake draining into the Kiang ,
the domain of a great water deity sometimes imagined as male ,
more often as female.
2) Belt-hung jades and sounding bird-bells concluded the songs
and dances.
3) All of the translators have misconstrued the syntax here.
The construction 器歌舞 is plainly parallel to 晦江诸. Chinese
does not permit anastrophe. 器 "discontinue; bring to an end;
mark the end of," matches 晦 "approach; come (be) close to; look
down on." Both verbs are transitive , with a double object. 营=
蟹. "Jades and bird-bells" are also synecdoches for "rich lords
and ladies."
4) As they departed at the conclusion of the entertainment,
the tinkling of the aristocrats' girdle ornaments and carriage bells
was heard. It is as if one were to say: "The swish of satin gowns
and the roar of Cadillacs ended their parties."
42) See Yüeh fu
sh仇 chi 集府污集 (Szu-pu ts'u 叼-k'an
ed.). 47. 6a.
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董楝朝 JI是南浦罢
2) Painted beams fl. ew out in the morning against the clouds
of South Reach.
3) The distich of which this is the first line shows strict parallelism throughout: "painted beams" j" beaded screens " ; "morning" j
" evening "; "fl. y 叫" roll "; "south" j" west"; "reach" (i. e. straight
portion of river of estuary , as "the reach of the Thames ")j" hill " ;
" clouds" j" rain." Here too the translators have regularly and
wrongly assumed an anastrophic construction - but it is the beams
that fl. y , not the clouds! The scene is of painted beams projecting
against a background of drifting clouds, whose movement makes
the beams seem to fl. y in the opposite direction - an illusion everyone must have experienced. "South Reach" is a quotation from
the "Sire of the Ho" ode in the "Nine Songs" (cf. comment on
line 1 above) , reviving and reinforcing the allusion to a water deity
(迭美人兮南浦). The sense of supernatural presences is further
enhanced by the matched pair "clouds" j" rain ," alluding ωthe
visible attributes of the rain and fertility goddess in the KIαo t'α饵g
fu 高唐赋 and Shen n必 fu 神女赋 attributed to Sung Yü 宋玉.
She was also intimate with kings.
4) The lordly guests enjoyed the illusion of colored roofbeams
fl. ying against the drifting clouds that patterned the sky over the
holy lake.
2) ßeaded curtains rolled up in the evening toward the rain
on West Hills.
3) 朱 "vermilion" is probably , as often , for 珠 "bead." The
screens are of the loose , hanging variety , and are rolled up to allow
the pleasure of viewing the scenery.
4) They enjoyed the sight of gentle rain falling on distant
2) Idle clouds are re fl. ections in pools - those days remote and
3) Here begins the second quatrain , with a shift from description of the past to the passage of time and the changes wrought
by it. 日悠悠 is both "the life-giving sun remote and pale in the
distance ," and also "the days have slipped by into the remote,
irrecoverable past."
4) But those days of lazy clouds and the contemplation of
reflections in the water by idle people are now far gone.
Everything altered , stars shifted - many autumns meted
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3) (No mysteries here.)
4) All things are different - even the positions of the stars
and planets; much time has passed.
2) Inside the gallery, the god-king's child(ren) - where do they
(he , she) now abide?
3) The expression 帝子 in this magic octet is crucial. All of
the translators have made the bland assumption that it is merely
an obvious way of referring to the Prince of T'eng. Hence HerveySaint-Denys has "le jeune roi ," Bethge has "der junge Kδnig,"
Cranmer-Byng has "royal builder," and Hart has "emperor' s son."
But the phrase can be properly understood only in the total context
of the poem , which is studded with allusions to the Ch' 也 tz'u and
the Sung Y也 fu. Wang Po was obviously familiar with both. However , the only comment on the phrase in the standard nineteenth
century commentary of Chiang Ch'ing-i 蒋清朝 refers us to his
gloss on another poem of Wang Po , "Rhapsody on the Seventh Evening" (七夕赋), where the term also appears. The gloss consists
merely of a quotation from the biography of K'ung Kuang 孔光
in the H<<α饥 shu which tells of a prince who was versed in "the
conduct of a ti tzU."43 But this is an obscure reference. To T'ang
writers the locus cla.~sicus of the familiar phrase was the "Hsiang
fu jen" of the "Nine Songs": God's child descends , ho!ωNorth
Holm" (帝子降兮北洁).44 "God's child" is a reference 如 the
goddess of the Hsiang River; in some old texts she is styled the
daughter of Yao; elsewhere she is the daughter of "God in Heaven"
43) Wa叼 Tzu-an chi chu, 1, 13b; Han sh饵, 81 , 0563a.
44) Cf. Waley'自 translation in his The N切e 80饵gs: A 8tudy of 8ha刑 anism 切
Ancie饵t Chi饵α(2nd impression; London , 1956): .. God's child has come down to the
northem shore."
M.S. XXX 8
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(天帝 ).45 Literate men of T'ang were thoroughly familiar with all
of these traditions about the goddess , including the one that "God's
child" was the second daughter of Yao. 46 The epithet ti tzu echoes
through T'ang poetry. Ma Huai-su 思慎素, writing in the first
half of the eighth century , begins a tribute to the Chin-ch'eng Princess 金城公主, sent to marry a Tibetan king , with the line "Where
now is God's child?" (帝子今何在), a direct borrowing from Wang
Po's celebrated poem. 47 Here (as in other poems) the princess is
presented under the metaphor of a Chinese goddess sent into exile
among the benighted and undeserving Tibetans. Elsewhere in the
poem she is compared with the famous Han beauty married to a
chieftain of the Wu-sun. The poet's meaning is clear: the T'ang
princess and the Han princess alike were married off to kings in
remote parts of the world - just as the Lady of the Hsiang was
married by Yao ωthe divine king Shun , ωspend her years in
the forested wilderness of southernmost Hunan. The Chin-ch'eng
princess is "god's child" in two senses. She was descended from
the divine rulers (ti) of T'ang , and she was destined to play a role
analogous to that of the daughter of the primordial god-king Yao.
Liu Ch'ang-ch'ing 割是卿 refers to "god's child" in at least two
poems. Both of them allude unambiguously to the Hsiang goddess
of the "Nine Songs."48 In one of them , called the "Consort of the
Hsiang ," the first verse paraphrases the famous line of Wang PO
thus: "God's child may not be seen." (帝子不可且). Another important instance in T'ang poetry is Li Ho's 李贺 "Song on God's
Child ,'叫 which begins "God's child in Tung-t'ing , a thousand li
away ," and has as its fourth verse , "The deity of the Hsiang
strums his zither , inviting god's child." Here Li Ho follows the
minority view of the scholiast Wang 1 王逸 tha t takes "Hsiang
45) Commentary of Kuo P'u on Shan hai ching , "Chung shan ching; Tung-t'ing
chih shan."
46) They are enumerated, for instance , in Liu Ch'ang-ch'ing, "Preface to Hsiang
fei shih" (湘妃古序), in Ch'üa饵 T'a叼 w佣金唐女, 346, 10a-lO b.
47) Ma Huai-su , "Feng ho sung Chin-ch'eng kung-chu shih Hsi Fan ying chih" 奉
和法金城公主涵西蕃喔制 , Ch'üaη T'aπg shih , ha饵 2, ts'e 5, 7b. Another version
of the text has ch'仅去 for tsai 在.
48) Liu Ch'ang-ch'ing, "Hsiang fei ," Ch'üa协 T'ang shih , ha饵 3, ts'e 1, chüa饵 1 ,
1b; and "Hsün ch'ü yüeh yang... che chü tz'u chou" 巡去岳赐...葫居此州 , Ch'也。"
T'。饵g shih , han 3, ts'e 1, chüa饵 1 , lOa.
49) Li Ho , "Ti tzu ko" 帝子歌 , Ch'üa饵 T'ang shih , han 6, ts'e 7, chüa饵 l , 8b.
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chün" in the "Nine Songs" to be a male deity , while "Hsiang fu
jen" is a female known as "god's chiI d. 肘。 In short the conservative and churIish gIoss of Chiang Ch'ing-i degrades our text by
referring only to a Ii ttle known Han passage about the son of a
divine king , i. e. , a Chinese monarch , and fa iIs strangely to mention
the obvious fact that ti tzu would for any educated reader instantly
evoke images of the goddess of the Hsiang River , the daughter
of the divine king Yao. He has tried to eIi minate aII of the traditionaI and popular supernaturaI overtones of the phrase. For him ,
"god's ch iI d" in Wang Po's cI assic can only be the Prince of T'e吨,
nothing more. But a poet Ii ke Wang Po , steeped in Ii terary tradition , as his poem shows us , would not use the expression unwittingly. Beyond aII question he knew and intended it to be a quotation from "The Lady of the Hsiang." It can refer to the Iate
T'ang prince only as a pretext and a metaphor , if at al l. As a
cI assic image for the radiant Princess of Chin-ch'eng it is not bad:
she was an ex iI ed goddess. As a simple reference to a modern
IordIi ng , it is overdone. It is s ilI y 旬 imagine Wang PO casting
him in the role of a water goddess.
4) Where could the princesses , Ii ke antique goddesses , who
accompanied the vanished prince , have gone?
2) Outside the ra iIi ng , the Long Kiang - vacantly , indifferently
3) The Kiang River is the naturaI domain of God's ChiI d.
4) The divine originaIs of the Iate prince and his fairy companions stilI survive , mysterious and remote , under the eternaI
waters of the Kiang.
Two remarks need to be made in conclusion. One has to do
with structure, the other with interpretation. As for the first , this
octet - or double quatrain - is arranged in two equaI parts. The
first quatrain displays the princely gaIIery as it was in the past,
when the glamorous friends of the Prince of T'eng frequented it.
The second quatrain reveals the gallery as it became: the human
50) Waley, op. cit. , p. 35, takes it that 湘夫人 and 湘君 are identical- there is
only one ch i1 d of god. The most popular Chinese tradition , however, makes them a
pair - identified with the daughters of Yao.
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beauties have disappeared , but their divine prototypes , the daughters of Yao , remain invisible in their mansion under the Kiang.
But certainly this poem, written on a festive occasion celebrating
the restoration of the building , cannot refer ωits condition when
Wang PO wrote the poem - shining with new paint, and thronged
with a gay crowd. It is a romantic and nostalgic reflection. Finally , it is necessary to make an effort to strip off the Ozymandias
motif, now almost permanently welded to the poem. Translators
and commentators must begin to see its many levels of meaning ,
especially those accumulated around the expression ti tzu - conveying primarily the image "daughters of the god" (i.e. of 天帝 or
of 帝亮); secondarily , divinely beautiful court ladies; and perhaps
thirdly (and faintly) an unusual image for an imperial prince. Now
a free rendering:
The high gallery of the Prince of T'eng looked out on that holy isle
in the Kiang;
There the ring of girdle gems and carriage bells marked the end of
brilliant musical soirées;
Colorful roofbeams seemed to fly against the clouds over South Reach;
Beaded curtains were rolled up to show the evening rain on West Hills.
The lazy clouds, still reflected in these pools , are - like those bygone
days - remote and hazy;
Everything is changed; the planets have shifted, taking any number
of se臼ons away with them;
Where now are the divine maidens who once ornamented this gallery?
Out there , beyond the railing, where the Kiang flows - indifferent to
all of us.
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