An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Beizhuanji 碑傳記

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Beizhuanji 碑傳記

The collection Beizhuanji 碑傳記 "Biographies recorded on stone tablets" (bei 碑) was compiled by the late Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Qian Yiji 錢儀吉 (1783-1850), original name Kuiji 逵吉, courtesy name Airen 藹人, style Kanshi 衎石, Xinwu 新梧 or Xinghu 星湖, from Jiaxing 嘉興, Zhejiang. Qian had various posts in the local administration, most of them were concerned with educational institutions. He compiled several historiographical books and books concerned with philology, like Jingdian zhengwen 經典證文, Shuowen yayan 説文雅厭, Bu Jin bingzhi 補晉兵志, Sanguo huiyao 三國會要, Nanbeichao huiyao 南北朝會要, Huangyu tushuo 皇輿圖説, Kanshizhai jishi gao 衎石齋記事稿, Dingluji 定廬集 and Kechuji 刻褚集.

The book includes the biographies of more than 2,200 persons (in 560 chapters) of every social level from the beginning of Qing until the Jiaqing reign-period 嘉慶 (1796-1820). The sources for the 160-juan long collection were semi-official family records (jiazhuan 家傳), official conduct descriptions (xingzhuang 行狀), or tomb inscriptions (muzhiming 墓誌銘). All persons are divided into 25 different categories according to their social or functional status or according to their conduct which are very similar to the categories used in the normal and collective biographies (liezhuan 列傳) of the dynastic histories (zhengshi 正史).

The original title of the book was Baijia zhengxian lu 百家徵獻録 (short Zhengxianlu 徵獻録), and it was also known with the titles of Wubaijia yinguan ji 五百家銀管集 or Xiangguan ji 湘管集. The title Beizhuanji is derived from the custom to incise an official biography on the tomb stone of a person. The Beizhuanji was completed in 1850, but the first print was only produced in 1893 by the Jiangsu Press 江蘇書局.

Qian Yiji's purpose was to compile a handbook providing biographies of persons from the present dynasty that was available for everyone. The problem of his time was that official biographies were not published but only kept in the library of the Institute of Historiography (guoshiguan 國史館) to which the public had no access. Qian Yiji's model for the Beizhuanji were to be found in Du Dagui's 杜大珪 Mingchen beizhuan wanyan ji 名臣碑傳琬琰集 from the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279), Su Tianjue's 蘇天爵 (1294-1352) Yuanchao mingchen shilüe 元朝名臣事略 and Xu Hong's 徐紘 Ming mingchen wanyan lu 明名臣琬琰録, as well as Jiao Hong's 焦竑 (1540-1620) Guochao xianzheng lu 國朝獻徵録 from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644).

The biographies in the Beizhuanji are a valuable source on the history of the Qing period that provides additional information on particular persons and their political and administrative activities that is not provided in the official biographies later included in histories as the Qingshigao 清史稿 or Qingshi liezhuan 清史列傳. The draft of the Beizhuanji was later revised by Huang Pengnian 黃彭年 (1824-1890), who eliminated redunancies and quotations from memorials included in the collection Huangchao jingshi wenbian 皇朝經世文編 and added biographic data to all biographies.

There are several supplements and continuations to the Beizhuan, like Miao Quansun's 繆荃孫 Xu beizhuanji 續碑傳集 or Min Erchang' 閔爾昌 Beizhuanji bu 碑傳集補.

All four Beizhuanji collections include the biographies of no less than 4,500 persons based on more than 7,000 different documents. Yet even such a large number of persons can of course not reflect all different social groups of the Qing empire. The four collections are, nevertheless, a very important complement to the official biographies included in collections like the Guochao qixian leizheng 國朝耆獻類徵 or the Qingshi liezhuan 清史列傳. All four Beizhuanji collections were published in a two-volume edition in 1987 by the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社 under the title of Qing beizhuan heji 清碑傳合集. The same edition was published in five-volume edition a year later by the Shanghai Shudian Press 上海書店.

Table 1. Contents of Qian Jiyi's 錢儀吉 Beizhuanji 碑傳記
1-2 宗室 Zongshi The imperial house
3, 5-6, 14-15 功臣 Gongchen Meritorious ministers
4, 7, 11-13, 22, 26-28, 38 宰輔 Zaifu Counsellors-in-Chief (chief ministers)
8-10, 16-21, 23-25, 29-37, 39 部院大臣 Buyuan dachen Ministers
40-42 內閣九卿 Neige jiuqing Members of the Grand Secretariat
43-51 翰詹 Hanzhan Members of the Hanlin Academy and of princely households
52-57 科道 Kedao Members of the official recruitment system
58-59 曹司 Caosi Members of the state transport bureaus
61-74 督撫 Dufu Governors
75-76 河臣 Hechen Officials of the (Grand Canal) transport system
77-87 監司 Jiansi Officials of the Censorate
88-110 守令 Shouling Magistrates
111-112 校官 Xiaoguan Officials of the state schools
113 佐貳雜臣 Zuoer zachen Various subofficial functionaries
114-116 武臣 Wuchen Military officials
117-122 忠節 Zhongjie Persons of loyal and decent conduct
123-126 逸民 Yimin Hidden worthies
127-129 理學 Lixue Specialists in Neo-Confucian teaching
130-135 經學 Jingxue Specialists in the Confucian Classics
136-141 文學 Wenxue Literati
142-145 孝友 Xiaoyou Persons of filial and amical conduct
146 義行 Yixing Persons of righteous conduct
147 方術 Fangshu Magicians
148 藩臣 Fanchen Officials of different ethnic stock
149-160 列女 Lienü Eminent females

Xu beizhuanji 續碑傳集

Xu beizhuanji 續碑傳集 is a collection of biographies of late Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) persons. It was compiled by Miao Quansun 繆荃孫 (1844-1919) as a sequel to Qian Yiji's 錢儀吉 Beizhuanji 碑傳集. The Xu beizhuanji, published in 1910 by the Jiang-Chu Compilation and Translation Press 江楚編譯書局, has a length of 86 juan and includes the biographies of 1,111 persons from the Daoguang 道光 (1821-1850) to the Guangxu reign-periods 光緒 (1875-1908).

Miao Quansun, courtesy name Yanzhi 炎之 or Xiaoshan 筱珊, style Yifeng 藝風, was a member of the Hanlin Academy 翰林院 and later chief editor of the Jiang-Chu Bianyi Press. He had also an eminent position in the Jiangnan Library 江南圖書館 and the Capital Library 京師圖書館. Miao Quansun has an enormous record of writings and was specialized in bronze and stone inscriptions and catalogues. He wrote the Nanbeichao mingchen nianbiao 南北朝名臣年表, Jindai wenxue dagang 近代文學大綱, Yifengtang wenji 藝風堂文集, Jinshimu 金石目, Dushuji 讀書記, Cangshuji 藏書記 and Qing xuebu tushuguan fangzhi mu 清學部圖書館方志目 and compiled the series Yunzizaikan congshu 雲自在龕叢書, Ouxiang lingshi 藕香零拾, Yanhuadongtang xiaopin 煙畫東堂小品 and Quanyulou congshu 勸雨樓叢書.

In 1881 Miao Quansun began his compilation of the supplement to the Beizhuanji that lasted for 30 years. Miao himself wrote only a dozen of biographies, while the rest was copied from more of 350 primary sources of the writings of private authors as well as local gazetteers like Jilin tongzhi 吉林通志, Jifu tongzhi 畿輔通志, Huai'an fu zhi 淮安府志 or Shuntian fu zhi 順天府志. The categories in which Miao Quansun arranged the biographies were, except some few chapters, the same as those of Qian Yiji's book. He added the category of Liekejiang 列客將 "Foreign generals" that includes foreigners in the service of the Qing dynasty, as Frederick Townsend Ward (Chinese name Hua'er 華爾), Tarding de Moidrey (Fardifu 法爾第福), Roderick Dew (Ledeke 樂德克) or Charles George Gordon (Gedeng 戈登, "China Gordon").

The category Lienü 列女 "Eminent females" is enriched by a chapter called Biantong 辨通 "Critical notes". The titles of the categories Caosi 曹司, Fangshu 方術 and Rulin 儒林 were changed to Caoshu 曹屬, Yishu 藝術, and Ruxue 儒學.

The Xu beizhuanji includes many persons information about whose life are otherwise not easy to find, like that of the central government official Cao Yuying 曹毓瑛 (1813-1866), the Xiang Army 湘軍 commander Tao Mo 陶模 (1835-1902), or the scholars Zhang Wenhu 張文虎 (1808-1885) and Tu Minjun 屠梅君. The biographic collection of Miao Quansun is therefore an important source for the study of the history of the late Qing period.

Beizhuanji bu 碑傳集補

Beizhuanji bu 碑傳集補 is a collection of biographies of late Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) persons. It was compiled by Min Erchang 閔爾昌 (1872-1948) as a supplement to Qian Yiji's 錢儀吉 Beizhuanji 碑傳集 and its sequel, Miao Quansun's 繆荃孫 Xu beizhuanji 續碑傳集. The Beizhuanji bu, published in 1922 by the Institute of National History of the Yenching University 燕京大學國學研究所, has a length of 60 juan and includes the biographies of 786 persons from the last decades of the Qing period.

Min Erchang, courtesy name Baozhi 葆之, hailed from Jiangdu 江都, Jiangsu, and was secretary of the president of the Republic of China until 1927, when he became professor for Chinese literature at the Furen University 輔仁大學. His writings include Xuehailou shicun 雪海樓詩存, Jiang Ziping nianpu 江子屏年譜, Leitangci 雷塘詞, Wang Boshen nianpu 王伯申年譜 and Wang Shiyao nianpu 王石曜年譜.

His collection Beizhuanji bu includes biographies that are missing in the Beizhuanji and the Xu beizhuanji, like participants and martyrs in the Reform Movement of 1898 like Jiang Piao 江標 (1860-1899), Xu Renzhu 徐仁鑄 (1863-1900), Wen Tingshi 文廷式 (1856-1904), Yang Shenxiu 楊深秀 (1849-1898), Liu Guangdi 劉光第 (1861-1898), Yang Rui 楊鋭 (1857-1898), Tan Sitong 譚嗣同 (1865-1898) or Lin Xu 林旭 (1875-1898), astronomer-mathematicians like Luo Shilin 羅士琳 (1783-1853), Li Shanlan 李善蘭 (1810-1882), Hua Hengfang 華蘅芳 (1833-1902) or Xu Shou 徐壽 (1818-1884), members of early political parties like Tang Caichang 唐才常 (1867-1900), Zou Rong 鄒容 (1885-1905), Xu Xilin 徐錫麟 (1873-1907), Qiu Jin 秋瑾 (1875-1907, the famouy female movement protagonist), Lin Xuemin 林覺民 (1887-1911) or Tao Chengzhang 陶成章 (1878-1912), or writers and scholars like Yang Shoujing 楊守敬 (1839-1915), Zhan Tianyou 詹天佑 (1861-1919) or Liu Shipei 劉師培 (1884-1919).

It includes also persons from the early Qing period that were not granted biographies in official histories as the Qingshigao 清史稿, like Wei Geng 魏耕 (1614-1662), Zhu Zhiyu 朱之瑜 (1600-1682), Wu Yan 吳炎 (1624-1663), Pan Sheng Zhang 潘檉章 (1626-1663), Gui Zhuang 歸莊 (1613-1673) or Lü Liuliang 呂留良 (1629-1683).

It also adds documents to persons that are part of the earlier Beizhuanji collections like Fang Dongshu 方東樹 (1772-1851) and Fang Zongcheng 方宗誠 (1818-1888). The categories of persons are largely the same as in the Beizhuanji, but without members of the imperial house, meritorious ministers, officials of different ethnic stock and foreign generals. The chapters Shichen 使臣 "Embassadors", Chouren 疇人 "Astrologers/Astronomers", Dangren 黨人 "Political persons" are new. The category "Eminent females" includes a new sub-section, Muyi 母儀 "Persons of maternal attitude".

The Beizhuanji bu was printed together with the Beizhuanji and the Xu beizhuanji in 1973 by the Wenhai Press 文海出版社 in Taibei, an edition of which a downsized facsimile was published in 1984 by the Jiangsu Guanglin Guji Keyinshe Press 江蘇廣陵古籍刻印社.

Beizhuanji sanbian 碑傳集三編

Beizhuanji sanbian 碑傳集三編 is a collection of biographies of late Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) persons. It was compiled by Wang Zhaoyong 汪兆鏞 (1861-1940) as a supplement to Qian Yiji's 錢儀吉 Beizhuanji 碑傳集 and its sequel, Miao Quansun's 繆荃孫 Xu beizhuanji 續碑傳集.

The Beizhuanji sanbian, finished in 1938, has a length of 50 juan and includes the biographies of 414 persons from the last decades of the Qing period and the early years of the Republic.

Wang Zhaoyong, courtesy name Boxu 伯序, style Jingwu 憬吾, Yongsou 慵叟, Jinwu 今吾 or Qingxi yuyin 清溪漁隱, hailed from Shanyang 山陽 (modern Shaoxing 紹興, Zhejiang) but spent a great part of his life in Fanyu 番禺, Guangdong, and Macao. His writings are Kongmen dizi xuexing kao 孔門弟子學行考, Bu sanguo shihuo xingfa zhi 補三國食貨刑法志, Jin huiyao 晉會要, and Yuan Guangdong yimin lu 元廣東遺民録.

The categories of biographies follow the arrangement of the Beizhuanji, but there are no specialized chapters on Neo-Confucian scholars and poets. Wang Zhaoyong added the categories of Suanxue 算學 "Natural sciences", Shichen 使臣 "Embassadors", and Duxing 獨行 "Political parties". He also added some documents on persons already in included in the earlier collections, like tomb inscriptions for Chen Baochen 陳寶琛 (1848-1935), Chen Yan 陳衍 (1856-1937), Xu Chongxi 許崇熙 (1873-1935) or Qian Jibo 錢基博 (1887-1957). Some of these documents provide new information on the lives of Qing period persons, like Zhang Guoliang 張國樑 (1810-1860), Huang Yizhou 黃以周 (1828-1899), or Zhang Xun 張勳 (1854-1923, the Qing loyalist who attempted to reinstall the emperor in 1917).

The Beizhuanji sanbian was published as a manuscript facsimile in 1978 by the Dadong Tushu Gongsi 大東圖書公司 in Hong Kong, and in 1980 by the Wenhai Press 文海出版社 in Taibei.

Qian Zhonglian 錢仲聯 (1908-2003) edited in 1999 an extension called Guang Qing beizhuan ji 廣清碑傳集 (Nanjing: Jiangsu daxue chubanshe). A two-part continuation came out in 2011, edited by Bian Xiaoxuan 卞孝萱, and Tang Wenquan 唐文權, namely Xinhai renwu beizhuan ji 辛亥人物碑傳集 on persons important during the 1911 Revolution, and Mingguo renwu beizhuan ji 民國人物碑傳集 with persons of the Republican period (Nanjing: Fenghuang chubanshe).

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