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New Revised Imprint of Tu Fus Poetry with Annotations

Tags: National Palace Museum | poetry | Sung dynasty | Tang dynasty | Tu Fu

Tu Fu (712-770) was one of the greatest poets in Chinese history. Witnessing the An Lu-shan rebellion and the restoration of imperial rule in the mid-8th century, he lived through one of the most tumultuous periods of the T'ang dynasty. Consequently, his poetry is filled with concern for the country and his opinions on life at the time. Due to his so-called "historical poetry", Tu Fu has been acclaimed by later critics as the "Sage of Poetry."

Tu Fu's collected works of poetry, according to a record in the "New History of the T'ang," originally was composed of 60 chüan (chapters). However, with the fall of the T'ang in 907 and the chaos of the Five Dynasties (907-960), much of it was lost. By the Sung dynasty (960-1279), scholars were able to gather the surviving remnants and create a new edition. Owing to the difficulty in reading Tu's poems, various annotations were added to make them more easily understood. Various annotated imprints appeared throughout the Sung dynasty and, in addition to the edition in the Museum collection, six now survive. They range in date from 1059 to the early 13th century and attest to the popularity of Tu Fu's poetry in the Sung dynasty. "New Revised Imprint of Tu Fu's Poetry with Annotations" was printed in 1225 by the Kwangtung Transport Supervisorate and first appears in the "T'ien-lu lin-lang shu-mu" imperial catalogue. In the Ch'ing dynasty, it was originally in the Wu-ying Hall. In 1773, during the compilation of the "Ssu-k'u ch'uan-shu (Complete Library of the Four Treasuries)" collectanea, it was discovered to be a rare Sung edition and chosen for inclusion therein. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the great court fire of 1797. Another imprint was reported in the 18th-19th century in the collection of Huang P’i-lieh, but its whereabouts are unknown now. A partial imprint of chapters six to eleven was found in the 19th century and is now in the Seikaido collection in Japan. The Museum's imprint comes from the collection of Ch'u Shao-chi of Ch'ang-shu and is recorded in his catalogue.

This imprint was originally in the collection of Wang Shih-mou in Soochow, came into the possession of Mao Pao of Ch'ang-shu, and then Wang Shih-chung of Soochow. When Wang Shih-chung's collection was dispersed in the Tao-kuang era (1821-1850), it came into the hands of Ch'ü Shao-chi. It was then purchased by the Shanghai merchant Shen Chung-t'ao and finally donated to the National Palace Museum in 1980.

Sung Dynasty (960-1279)
32 x 22.5 cm (print: 22.5 x 17.5 cm) 
Tu Fu (712-770; T'ang dynasty) with collected annotations by Tseng E and others of the Sung dynasty 1225 Southern Sung imprint by the Kwangtung Transport Supervisorate.

National Palace Museum

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