Chao Chih-ch'ien

Chao Chih-ch'ien 趙之謙 (T. 益甫, 撝叔, H. 悲盦, 梅庵, 旡悶, 憨寮, 冷君, 思悲翁)1829-1884, Nov.-Dec., scholar and bibliophile who was also skilled in calligraphy, painting and seal-carving, was a native of K'uai-chi, Chekiang. His family had for generations been merchants, but he had a fondness for scholarship, and in 1859 became a chü-jên. Though he competed five times in the metropolitan examinations, he failed to qualify as a chin-shih. In addition to frequent journeys to and from Peking to participate in the examinations he travelled much in his native province and in 1861 spent a short time in Fukien. Though he lacked the chin-shih degree, he received a government position as a copyist and finally was appointed to Kiangsi (1872) as an expectant magistrate. There he was successively acting magistrate of Po-yang (1878-79), Fêng-hsin, and Nan-ch'êng and died at the latter place in 1884. While he was acting magistrate of Po-yang he served as chief editor of the revised General Gazetteer of Kiangsi, 江西通志 Chiang-hsi t'ung-chih, which was printed in 1880-81.

From youth on Chao Chih-ch'ien was interested in inscriptions on stone and bronze. About the years 1843-45 he began making a supplement to Sun Hsing-yen's [q.v.] Huan-yu fang-pei lu. This continuation, entitled Pu (補) Huan-yü fang-pei lu, 5 chüan, and containing 1,823 supplementary items, was published in 1863-64. In 1886-87 it was reprinted in the third series of the Huai-lu ts'ung-shu (see under Fêng Têng-fu) with 1 chüan of corrigenda by Lo Chên-yü 羅振玉 (1866-1940). Among his friends he was recognized as a scholar of encyclopaedic information in many fields. When he was questioned one day in Peking, in 1864, about the introduction of snuff 鼻煙 to China he made a study of the subject and embodied the results in a brief monograph, entitled 勇盧閒詰 Yung-lu hsien-chieh. There he attempts an account of its use in China, of its properties, and of the ornate bottles that were made to contain it. He concludes that snuff was introduced to China from Europe in 1725 when a sample of it was among the articles of "tribute" sent to Peking by the Pope. Other sources, it may be stated in passing, have given dates a few decades earlier. Having made a collection of many short literary items not commonly known, Chao Chih-ch'ien published 37 of them in a collectanea, entitled 仰視千七百二十九鶴齋叢書 Yang-shih ch'ien ch'i-pai êr-shih chiu ho chai ts'ung-shu printed in 1880 in 5 series. The above-mentioned Yung-lu hsien-chieh appears in the first series, and his chronological biograpby of Chang Huang-yen [q.v.], entitled 張忠烈公年譜 Chang Chung-lieh kung nien-p'u appears in the fourth series. It is stated that he also produced a series of biographical sketches of scholars associated with the School of Han Learning (see under Ku Yen-wu)--in fact a supplement to the Kuo-ch'ao Han-hsüeh shih-ch'êng chi by Chiang Fan [q.v.]and therefore entitled Kuo-ch'ao Han-hsüeh shih-ch'êng hsü-(續) chi.

Chao Chih-ch'ien ranked high as a carver of seals. Two collections of seals carved by him were printed by the Hsi-lêng yin-shê (西冷印社) in 1908 under the title 二金蝶堂印譜 Êr-chin-tieh t'ang yin-p'u. In 1914 a supplementary collection was printed under the title, 悲盦印賸 Pei-an yin-shêng. As a painter he specialized in plant life. His calligraphy possesses a special charm, perhaps because he took as his models the inscriptions on the monuments of the Six Dynasties (386-618 A.D.). He was also a good player of wei-ch'i 圍棋 a form of chess. His literary collection, 悲盦居士集 Pei-an chu-shih chi, printed in 1890, contains his poems, entitled 詩賸 Shih-shêng, his short articles in prose, entitled 文存 Wên-ts'un, and his writings in the style of the examination hall, entitled 四書文 Ssŭ-shu wên. A collection of his letters, entitled Êr-chin tieh t'ang ch'ih-tu (尺牘), was printed in 1905.

[ 6/25/5a; 19/辛下/20a; 26/4/27b; Chang Ming-k'o 張鳴珂, 寒松閣談藝璅錄 Han-sung ko t'an-i so-lu, 4/3a; Yeh Ch'ang-ch'ih (see under P'an Tsu-yin), Ts'ang-shu chi-shih shih 7/2b; L.T.C.L.H.M., p. 378b.]