Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'i Chün-tsao

CH'I Chün-tsao 祁寯藻 (T. 叔穎, 淳[實]甫, H. 春圃, 觀齋), 1793–1866, Oct. 20, official and poet, native of Shou-yang, Shansi, was the fifth son of Ch'i Yün-shih [q. v.]. Ch'i Chün-tsao was brought up in Peking, but when his father was exiled to Chinese Turkestan in 1805 he and his mother went back to his native place. In 1809 his father was pardoned and returned home. In the following year (1810) Ch'i Chün-tsao became a chü-jên, and four years later (1814) a chin-shih. When his father died in 1815 he withdrew from official life to observe the period of mourning. In 1821 he was ordered to serve in the Imperial Study, and in the following year officiated as associate examiner of the metropolitan examination and as chief examiner of the provincial examination of Kwangtung. In 1823–26 he was director of education of Hunan. Thereafter he was several times promoted to posts in the central government, but owing to his mother's ill-health he twice (1830, 1831) asked and obtained leave of absence. His mother died in 1834. After observing the mourning period he was promoted (1837) to vice-president of the Board of War. He served as director of education of Kiangsu from 1837 to 1840, but early in the latter year was commissioned to supervise coastal defense and the prohibition of opium in Fukien—this being the period of the Anglo-Chinese War when the ports of Fukien were attacked by the British. Early in 1841, however, Ch'i Chün-tsao was back at the capital. Appointed (1841) president of the Board of Works, he was ordered, in the same year, to serve on the Grand Council. After filling various other posts he was made head-master of the School for Princes (1849, see under Yin-chên). In his capacity as president of the Board of Revenue he was made associate Grand Secretary. When on his way to visit his native place in 1850 he received word of the death of Emperior Hsüan-tsung and hurried back to the capital where in 1851 Emperor Wên-tsung appointed him a Grand Secretary.

During the period of conflict with Great Britain Ch'i Chün-tsao had advocated war, and when he was serving as associate Grand Secretary often had occasion to disagree with Mu-chang-a [q. v.] who was then a Grand Secretary. But when the latter was dismissed in 1851 and Ch'i became Grand Secretary, he still found it difficult to agree with Su-shun [q. v.], an associate on the Board of Revenue and a favorite with the emperor. Ch'i and Su-shun were frequently in conflict over matters of coinage and the military measures necessary to suppress the Taiping Rebellion. Although Ch'i was honored in 1852 with the title of Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent, his policies were so thwarted that he earnestly besought retirement, a request that was granted early in 1855. Nevertheless he did not return to Shansi, but continued to reside at Peking until 1860 when the Anglo-French forces reached the Capital and Emperor Wên-tsung fled to Jehol. When Emperor Mu-tsung ascended the throne in 1861 Ch'i Chün-tsao was recalled from retirement by Empress Hsiao-ch'in [q. v.] to be one of the four tutors of the young emperor. Advanced in age, and in ill-health, he finally retired in 1864. He died in 1866 at the age of seventy-four (sui), having during his lifetime served four emperors. Posthumously he was given the name Wên-tuan 文端 and his name was entered in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.

Ch'i Chün-tsao had strong scholarly instincts, and associated intimately with many learned men of his day, such as Ho Shao-chi, Yü Chêng-hsieh and Ho Ch'iu-t'ao [qq. v.]. In addition to printing many of his father's works, he published the works of several of his friends, such as Chang Mu and Ch'êng Ên-tsê [qq. v.]. He was one of the leading poets of his time and one of a group that emphasized the importance of Sung poetry. His own collected verse, 䜱䜪亭集 Man-ch'iu t'ing chi, in 44 chüan, was first printed in 1856–57. He also achieved some distinction as a calligrapher.

His son, Ch'i Shih-ch'ang 祁世長 (T. 子禾, H. 念慈, 敏齋, 1825–1892), was a chin-shih of 1860, who rose in his official career to president of the Board of Works (1890–92) and received the posthumous name, Wên-k'o 文恪.

The Library of Congress possesses a manuscript copy of a collection of essays and poems written by twelve members of the Ch'i family over several generations when they competed for the chü-jên or chin-shih degrees. Judging from the seals and the contents, this manuscript, entitled 壽陽祁氏試卷彙鈔 Shou-yang Ch'i-shih shih-chüan hui-ch'ao, was compiled by Ch'i Chün-tsao himself, or by his order, in 1851 or 1852.


[1/391/2a; 2/46/1a; 5/4/8a; 26/3/24a; Shou-yang hsien chih (1890) 8/16a; 5/15/10b (concerning Ch'i Shih-ch'ang).]

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