Literary Collection of Liu Ping-ko

Tags: National Palace Museum | rare books | Sung dynasty


Sung Dynasty (960-1279)
23 x 15.5 cm (print: 21.2 x 16.5 cm) 
Liu Yü-hsi (772-842), T'ang dynasty
Early Southern Sung (1127-1279) Chekiang engraved version

Liu Yü-hsi (style name Meng-te), is also known as Ping-k’o and came from Chung-shan. He was a poet of the T'ang dynasty (618-907) whose literary collection was compiled into 40 chüan (chapters) in “Hsin T'ang shu i-wen chih (New Arts Section of the T'ang History)”. In the early Sung (960-1279), ten chapters were lost, leaving only 30. During the Sung dynasty, Sung Tz'u-tao collected Liu's other works to come up with 470 poems and 23 prose writings compiled into ten chapters. The contents of his ten chapters, however, did not completely match the contents of the ten lost chapters. In addition to the Museum copy, two other Sung copies of this text survive--one in Japan and the other in Ch'ang-shu.

The title of the Ch'ang-shu copy, however, differs slightly from this one and was carved in Szechwan during the early Southern Sung. Unfortunately, only four chapters remain, making it less valuable to scholars. The Japanese copy was reprinted by Tung Yüan-chin in 1913 and became part of the “Ssu-pu ts'ung-k'an” early series published by the Commercial Press. Consequently, it has received the greatest circulation. Each half-page of this edition is composed of ten lines with 18 characters each. Judging from the fine carving to the avoidance of imperial Sung taboo characters, this copy appears to have been carved during the reign of Emperor Kao-tsung (r. 1127-1162) of the Sung. As for the Museum copy, each half-page has 12 lines with 21 characters each. The fine carving and avoidance of imperial Sung taboo characters suggests that it is an imprint from the Chekiang region during the late years of the Shao-hsing era (1131-1162) under Kao-tsung. These two Sung editions are the most complete ones. Although both are composed of 30 chapters with an additional 10 (both based on the compilation of Sung Tz'u-tao), these two editions are not the same and thus did not come from the same source. Many differences exist between the characters and also some variations in the notes, making cross-referencing necessary.

This copy in the Museum was one in the collections of Hua Hsia and Hsiang Tu-shou of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). In the Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911), it entered the imperial collection and was stored at the temporary palace in Jehol. After the establishment of the Republic in 1912, objects from the Ch'ing temporary palaces were returned to Peking, where the government established a gallery especially for the display of ancient objects from the Ch'ing collection. After the Japanese instigated the Mukden Incident in 1931, the northeast entered a period of instability and turmoil, so these objects and books were transported along with treasures from the Palace Museum to the south, where they were combined into one collection.

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum

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