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Illustrated Tributes to the Imperial Ch'ing

Tags: National Palace Museum | rare books


Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
29 x 18 cm (print: 20 x 13.5 cm) 
Compiled on imperial decree by Fuheng (1721-1770), Ch'ing dynasty1805 Wu-ying Palace edition

This text in nine chapters was compiled by Fuheng, Tung Hao, and others, and it was illustrated by Men Ch’ing-an and others. The text is divided geographically, the first chapter dealing with foreign lands, such as Korea, Ryuku, Annam, England, and France. The second chapter deals with the areas of Tibet, Ili, and Kazakh. The third involves Kuan-tung, Fukien, Hunan, and Taiwan. The fourth mentions Kwangtung and Kwanghsi. The fifth deals with Kansu, the sixth Szechwan, the seventh Yünnan, the eighth Kweichow, and the ninth includes illustrations added after 1763. In addition, in 1805, five illustrations dealing with Vietnam were added at the end of the ninth chapter. Altogether, there are more than 300 illustrations of peoples in this text, each including a representative male and female figure, making for a total of about 600. Following each illustration is explanatory text that is easy to understand, providing an abstract of the people and their relation to the Ch’ing court as well as the customs of the lands from which they come.

Since the Ch’ien-lung Emperor ordered in 1751 that administrators throughout the land as well as those with contacts with foreigners provide illustrations of the appearance and clothing of different peoples, the illustrations here deal mostly with appearances and also emphasize their expressions. The records in this text also deal with first-hand accounts of these peoples, making for a reasonably accurate description of the traditions, customs, and geography.

Fuheng, style name Ch’un-ho, had the surname Fu-ch’a and was a Manchu Yellow Bannerman. He was the younger brother of the Ch’ien-lung Emperor. In the Ch’ien-lung era, he held numerous high posts, such as Minister of Revenue, Minister of Personnel, and Grand Academician of the Pao-ho Hall and Council of State (along with the title of Grand Mentor of the Heir Apparent). He was commander in the battle of Chin-ch’uan, and he also took part in planning the quelling of the Dzungar tribes, for which he was ennobled to the first rank and took part in compiling a text on the subject. He was also ordered to create Manchu script in seal style based on Chinese characters, forming 32 altogether; he handwrote imperial poetry in this style to serve as a model for Manchu seal script. He also took part in editing many important dictionary and reference books, including texts on the writing and geographical history of minorities, a major classification dictionary in Manchu and Chinese, and a text on governing in Manchu and Chinese. These efforts indicate his important contribution to the field of Manchu-Chinese translation.

Tung Hao (1740-1818), style name Ya-lun and sobriquet Che-lin, was a native of Fu-yang in Chekiang. A Presented Scholar (chin-shih) of the Ch’ien-lung reign, he served up to the post of Academician of the Cabinet and also was deputy compiler of the Four Treasuries Library. He excelled at painting and authored several texts, including the veritable records of Ch’ien-lung’s reign.

Men Ch’ing-an, dates unknown, was a National University Student.

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum