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A Chinese Biographical Dictionary/Chang Chiu-ling

38Chang Chiu-ling 張九齡 (T. 子壽). A.D. 673-740. A native of 曲江 Ch'ü-chiang in Kuangtung — from which he is sometimes called 曲江公 — who flourished as a statesman and poet under the Emperor Ming Huang of the T'ang dynasty. Graduating high on the list of chin shih, his profound learning gained for him the sobriquet of 文塇元帥, and he soon attracted the notice of Chang Yüeh who introduced him into public life. In conjunction with Han Hsiu, he ventured to remonstrate against the licentiousness and misrule which prevailed. In A.D. 736, on the occasion of an Imperial birthday, when others presented rare and costly gifts, including mirrors obtained at great expense from distant lands, he offered only a collection of wise precepts. He sought in vain to awaken the Emperor to the treasonable designs of An Lu-shan. He himself was attacked by Li Lin-fu (q. v.) over the appointment of Niu Hsien-k'o, and was banished to Ching-chou. Later on, Ming Huang found out what a valuable counsellor he had lost, and ennobled him as Earl, not long after which he died. It is also said that when new Ministers were afterwards recommended, his Majesty invariably asked if they were anything like Chang Chiu-ling. He was very reserved in manner and punctiliously formal in all matters of ceremony. His poems are among the most brilliant even of the brilliant age in which he lived. In his youth he used to communicate with his relatives by means of carrier-pigeons, which he trained in large numbers, and which he called his "flying slaves." When his mother died, he planted a purple-flowered "shrub of longevity" by her grave, whereupon white birds came and nested in the trees around, — both these being mourning colours! Was canonised as 文獻.