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Chinese Literature
Yindian 印典 "The Canon of Seals"


The Yindian 印典 "The Canon of Seals" is a book on seal carving and seal inscriptions compiled by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Zhu Xiangxian 朱象賢, style Qingxi 清溪, who came from Wuxian 吳縣 (modern Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu) and was a descendant of the Song period 宋 (960-1279) writer Zhu Changwen 朱長文. The 8 juan "scrolls" long book narrates the stories of a lot of ancient seals, and quotes from many ancient texts including information on such. The text is divided into 12 chapters, covering the origins and "systems" of seals, seals as presents, their spread and transmission, old stories, critiqual essays, carvings, objects, and poems on seals. In Bai Changgeng's 白長庚 postface (ba 跋) from 1722 it is said that the allegedly quoted books of Wang Ji 王基 from the Song period, namely Mei'an zaji 梅庵雜記, Gualu biji 蝸廬筆記, and Master Ye's 葉 Youyi zashu 游藝雜述, and an anonymous Kaogu jilüe 考古紀略 from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368), are not mentioned at all in any bibliography or other text. It is therefore doubtful which texts the author had made use of. The arrangement of his book is also rated as confuse. Paragraphs in the chapter Gushi 故實 "Ancient verities" might also appear in the chapter Zongji 綜紀 "Summary", and vice versa. A lot of quotations are taken out of the context, like Zhou Kai's 周顗 huge gold seal, or Xin Tifou's 辛替否 statements that silver and gold are not applicable for seals. The book appears as a loose collection of many different statements about and stories of seals, but the abundance of these quotations make is a valuable source collection.
The first print of the Yindian was published as an appendix to Zhu Changwen's 朱長文 book Mochibian 墨池編. Is is included in the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.


Source: 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. 1821.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

October 26, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail