An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Qianshi sizhi 錢氏私志

Sep 5, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Qianshi sizhi 錢氏私志 "Master Qian's Private Records", also written 錢氏私誌, is a biji 筆記 "brush notes" style book written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Qian Mian 錢愐. Some sources say that the author was called Qian Yanyuan 錢彦遠. The Ming period 明 (1368-1644) collector Qian Zeng 錢曾 stressed in his book Dushu minqiu ji 讀書敏求記 that the author was Qian Mian. Qian Mian came from Qiantang 錢塘 (modern Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang) or Xiuzhou 秀州 (modern Jiaxing 嘉興, Zhejiang) and was the third son of the Prince of Pengcheng 彭城王, a relative to the former ruler of the state of Wu-Yue 吳越 (907-978), one of the Ten States 十國 (902-979). Qian Mian held the honorary title of Defender-in-Chief (taiwei 太尉), which can be known from the preface that was written by his nephew Qian Shizhao 錢世昭. The short book is a collection of stories that Qian Mian himself had seen and heard during his life. Part of the text might have been written down by Qian Mian himself, but the book was compiled by Qian Shizhao.
During the reign of Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗 (r. 1100-1125) Qian Mian was a member of an official mission to the court of the Liao empire 遼 (907-1125). The short book Qianshi sizhi records stories from history and about many aspects of culture and customs of his time, including those he experienced during his journey to the Liao empire. Because he was a relative of the empress he had access to the imperial palace and so had the opportunity to learn from the servants in the palace. Some of the statements in his book clearly display a personal opinion, like his confirmation that the politician, thinker and writer Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 had great talents but no good manners which could be seen in his frivolous conversations with the palace maids. The book includes a praise for Confucius, the Kongzi zan 孔子贊, by the painter Mi Fu 米芾. This text has later become an oder during ritual offerings.
The Qianshi sizhi is to be found in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Gujin shuohai 古今說海, Lidai xiaoshi 歷代小史, Shuofu 說郛, Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說, Xuehai leibian 學海類編 and Shuoku 說庫.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1947.
Wu Feng 吳楓 (ed. 1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Wenxue 文學卷, Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe, p. 546.
Zheng Yunbo 鄭雲波 (1992). Zhongguo gudai xiaoshuo cidian 中國古代小說辭典, Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, p. 401.