An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Qingmicang 清秘藏

Mar 30, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Qingmicang 清秘藏 (Qingbicang 清祕藏) is a book on antiques and collectibles compiled during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Zhang Yingwen 張應文, courtesy name Maoshi 茂實, style Yifu 彝甫 or Beihe Xiansheng 被褐先生 from Kunshan 昆山, Jiangsu, and his on Zhang Qiande 張謙德 (also called Zhang Chou 張丑; 1577-1643). Zhang Yingwen did not occupy an office, but dedicated his life to calligraphy and painting and the cultivation of chrysanthemums and orchids. The catalogue of his library is called Zhangshi cangshu 張氏藏書. Zhang Qiande wrote the books Qinghe shuhua fang 清河書畫舫, and Zhenji rilu 真跡日錄, both dealing with the arts.

The catalogue of Zhang father and son is arranged in two juan. It explains important features of collectibles and antiques. The name is derived from Ni Zan's 倪瓚 (1301-1374) study Qingbi Ge 清祕閣 "Lodge of Pure Secrets". The authors discern between twelve different types of objects, the categorization of which copies that of Song Xihu’s 趙希鵠 (1170-1242) Dongtian qinglu 洞天清錄 from the Song period 宋 (960-1279). The first juan talks about (each chapter title starts with the word lun 論 "discussing...") jades (ch. 1), ancient bronze vessels (2), calligraphies (3), paintings (4), stele inscriptions (5), ceramics (6), seals (7), ink-stones (8), rocks (9), pearls and jewelry (10), zithers and swords (11), perfumes (12), crystals, agate, and amber (13), ink-sticks (14), paper (15), Song-period prints (16), embroidery and printed silks (17), carved objects (18), ancient papers and silks (19), and methods of mounting paintings and calligraphies (20). The second juan continues with the explanation (each chapter beginning with the word xu 敘 "Describing...") of methods of collection, preservation, storage, and the biographies of famous artists of the past.

For all objects, the authors indicate dimensions and features, but do unfortunately not render their source for all items. They do so, for instance, in the case of precious stones, but not for swords. Quite helpful are their judgments whether an object was genuine, or a forgery.

The Qingbicang is included in the series Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書, Cangxiutang congshu 藏修堂叢書, Cuilangganguan congshu 翠琅玕館叢書, Meishu congshu 美術叢書, Yuyuan congshu 芋園叢書 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

There is one edition of the book where the text is divided into 3 fascicles, the title called Yunxuan qingbicang 筠軒清秘藏, and the author called Dong Qichang 董其昌 (1555-1636).

Beijing Dongfang Shoucangjia Xiehui 北京東方收藏家協會, ed. (1996). Zhonghua shoucang da cidian 中華收藏大辭典 (Beijing: Beijing Yanshan chubanshe), 7.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2001.
Wang Jianbing 王劍冰 (1996). "Qingmicang 清秘藏", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Yishu 藝術卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 527.