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Literary Collection of Nan-hsüan

Tags: National Palace Museum | rare books | Sung dynasty


Sung Dynasty (960-1279)
26.5 x 19 cm (print: 21.2 x 16.5 cm) 
Chang Shih (1133-1180), Sung dynasty
Chekiang Sung imprint from the reign of Ning-tsung (1195-1224)

Nan-hsüan was the sobriquet of Chang Shih, a native of Szechwan. The famous Neo-Confucianist Chu Hsi (1130-1200) praised Chang in his eulogy for his character and erudition, making him an important figure in the philosophy of the period and a role model for later generations.

Originally entitled “Nan-hsüan hsien-sheng wen-chi (The Literary Collection of Nan-hsüan)”, it survived in two editions. One was in 30 chüan (chapters) and recorded by Ch'en Chen-sun of the Sung dynasty (960-1279). The other was a 44-chapter edition recorded by Chao Hsi-pien, also of the Sung dynasty. The former was not recorded in any collections, except for the catalogues of two private collections in the Ming (1368-1644) and Ch'ing (1644-1911) dynasties. The 44-chapter edition was arranged by Chu Hsi and, after being reprinted in the Yüan dynasty (1279-1368), enjoyed great circulation. However, the original Sung imprint is mentioned only once--in the collection of Chi Chen-i during the early Ch'ing. It is unknown whether this copy still exists, making this copy in the Museum apparently the only surviving Sung dynasty edition of this book.

Unfortunately, with 28 chapters, the Museum copy is not complete. It, nonetheless, is important as not only a sole surviving Sung edition, but also as a reference for later reprints.

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum