An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Chen Jiru 陳繼儒

Jul 21, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Chen Jiru 陳繼儒 (1558-1639), courtesy name Chen Zhongchun 陳仲醇, style Meigong 眉公 or Migong 麋公, was a late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) book collector, painter, calligrapher, writer and publisher. He came from Huating 華亭 (modern Songjiang 松江, Shanghai) and never succeeded in passing an official state examination. With the age of 29 sui he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to the study of literature and arts. Chen one said that reading a new book was for him like a new acquaintance, and reading old books was like meeting old friends. He commented a lot on the copied he owned and he was an excellent collator comparing various editions. In his eyes several steps of editing were necessary, and even after printing a manuscript, it had to revised again. The name of his main study was Baoyan Hall 寶顏堂 "Treasure of (the calligrapher) Yan (Zhenqing) 顏真卿 (also called Yan Lugong 顏魯公)", those of his other refuges Wanxian Hut 玩仙廬 "Playing with Immortals" and Laiyi Hall 來儀堂 "Coming of Propriety". During the Wanli reign 萬曆 (1573-1619) he published the series Baoyantang miji 寶顏堂秘笈 in six collections (ji 集) that includes the text of 229 ancient books, mainly stories, "petty words", books an arts, and various notes. This collection is very valuable because it preserved a huge amount of rare texts of popular provience. These have survived the "literary inquisition" during the Qianlong reign 乾隆 (1736-1796) only because they were part of Chen Jiru's series. Another important publication by Chen Jiru is his anthology of Ming period poems called Guochao minggong shixuan 國朝名公詩選. In this collection poems of famous and less famous authors are to be find, like those of Gao Qi 高啟, Wang Mian 王冕, Li Zhi 李贄 or Tu Long 屠隆. Chen Jiru has written the books Huang-Ming shuhua shi 皇明書畫史 and Shuhua jintang 書畫金湯, histories of Ming painting and calligraphy. His collected writings are called Meigong miji 眉公秘笈 and Chen Meigong quanji 陳眉公全集.

Li Yu'an 李玉安, Chen Chuanyi 陳傳藝, eds. (1989). Zhongguo cangshujia cidian 中國藏書家辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 145.