An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Ji guyin pu 集古印譜

Oct 26, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Ji guyin pu 集古印譜 is a catalogue of ancient seals owned by the brothers Gu Congde 顧從德 (1519-1587), courtesy name Ruxiu 汝修, style Yunge 蕓閣, and Gu Congli 顧從禮, style Ruyou 汝由. They inspected closely the antiques collection of their father Gu Dingfang 顧定芳, courtesy name Shi'an 世安, who was an imperial physician. A third brother, Gu Congyi 顧從義, courtesy name Ruhe 汝和 – a famous calligrapher – and a relative called Gu Tianxi 顧天錫 (1588—1663), courtesy name Chongguang 重光, an astronomer and physician, were also consulted with.

The book itself was produced by the seal carver and specialist Wang Chang 王常 (b. 1535), original name Luo Wangchang 羅王常 or Luo Nandou 羅南斗, style Yannian 延年. The book itself also known with the title Gushi ji guyin pu 顧氏集古印譜, in order to discern it from other books on ancient seals. It has a length of 6 juan and was finished in 1572 and presents the shape and inscriptions of no less than 1,600 bronze seals (tongyin 銅印) and 160 jade seals (yuyin 玉印) from the Qin 秦 (221-206 BCE) and Han 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) periods, both private and official ones. It was the first book which showed the original prints of ancient seals.

Earlier books on seals from the Song period 宋 (960-1279) are lost. There were Yang Keyi's 楊克一 (c. 1100) Ji guyin ge 集古印格, Zhao Jie's 趙佶 (i.e. Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗, r. 1100-1126) Xuanhe yinpu 宣和印譜, and Jiang Kui's 姜夔 (1155-1221) Ji guyin pu 集古印譜.

The book of the Gu collection, printed on high-quality white-yellowish silk (chusu 楮素) and wrapped in preciously decorated jackets, can be seen as the crown of seal catalogues. It was published in 20 copies, but the text circulated in five different editions with different numbers of fascicles. These editions partially deviate substantially from the Gu collection, and can be seen as merely inspired of this forerunner of seal catalogues.

These are Gan Yang's 甘晹 version from 1596 with 5 juan length, Gu Ruxiu's separate version from 1611 with 7 juan of length, Qu Yong's 瞿鏞 (1794-1846) version published in 1858, and Mo Shengsun's 莫繩孫 (1844-1919) brief version from 1909. While the versions of Gan, Qu, and Mo are printed in black, and sealed afterwards (qianyin ben 鈐印本), the main text of the versions of Wang and the Gu brothers are fully printed in red (zhuyin ben 朱印本).

The book Fanshi ji guyin pu 范氏集古印譜 was compiled by Fan Rutong 范汝桐, courtesy name Weitong 惟同, who catalogued the seal collection of his father Fan Dache 范大轍 (1524-1610), courtesy name Zixuan 子宣, style Ne'an 訥庵, Nanyan Diaozhe 南海釣者 or Juzhang Guanyuan Sou 句章灌園叟. It was published in 1597 and presents more than 3,000 seals.

Figure 1. Small (xiaoxi 小璽) and princely seals (wangyin 王印) from the Qin and Han periods as shown in the Ji guyin pu 集古印譜
The commentaries do not only transcribe the characters of the seal inscriptions, but also describes the appearance of the seal (fu 覆 "the cover") itself, like a trapezoid square (douniu 斗鈕) or the shape of a (mythological) animal (shouniu 獸鈕). Source: Guangming zhi Men 光明之門.
Han Tianheng 韓天衡, Zhang Weiyu 張煒羽 (2013). "Yuanqin yinpu de bizu Gu Congde 原鈐印譜的鼻祖顧從德", Xinmin wanbao 新民晚報, 2013/5/25.
Sun Xiangqun 孫向群 (2002). "Yangshi ji guyin pu kaobian 《楊氏集古印譜》考辨", Shufa 書法, 2002 (4).
Wang Guichen 王貴忱 (1982). "Ba Wanli ben Gan Yang Ji guyin pu 跋萬曆本甘暘《集古印譜》", Guangdong Tushuguan xuekan 廣東圖書館學刊, 1982 (6).
Zhang Penghao 趙鵬浩 (2018). "Cong Yang Yang Ji guyin pu fenxi yinpu jiazhi yu baohu yiyi 從甘暘《集古印譜》分析印譜價值與保護意義", Hanzi wenhua 漢字文化, 2018 (3).
Zhenwei yinwang 真微印網 (
Zhou Yuan 周媛 (2019). "Gong-si binglu, tong-yu jucai: Gushi Ji guyin pu kaoxi 公私并錄 銅玉具采——顧氏《集古印譜》考析", Shoucangjia 收藏家, 2019 (8).