Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'i Piao-chia

CH'I Piao-chia 祁彪佳 (T. 幼文, 宏吉, H. 世培, 虎子), 1602–1645, July 26, Ming official, was a native of Shan-yin (Shaohsing), Chekiang. His father, Ch'i Ch'êng-yeh 祁承㸁 (T. 爾光, H. 曠翁, chin-shih of 1604), was a well-known bibliophile, who possessed a large collection housed in his library, Tan-shêng t'ang 澹生堂 (see also under Chao I-ch'ing). The catalogue of this library, compiled about 1625, under the title, Tan-shêng t'ang shu-mu (書目), in 14 chüan, was printed in 1892 in the third series of the collectanea, Shao-hsing hsien-chêng i-shu (see under Wang Hui-tsu). Ch'i Piao-chia inherited his father's taste for scholarship and book collecting. He passed the provincial examination at the age of seventeen (sui) and became a chin-shih at twenty-one (1622). He was appointed police magistrate of Hsing-hua-fu, Fukien, and in 1631 was promoted to a censor. His bold criticism of corruption and inefficiency in all branches of government service displeased the emperor but a constructive memorial on imperial policy secured him a post in Kiangsu where he suppressed several rebellions, one organized under the name of Christianity. He retired to care for his aged mother and remained at home for nine years, meanwhile pursuing his studies with Liu Tsung-chou [q. v.]. After his mother died Ch'i resumed official life and was re-appointed a censor. While on his way to Nanking to take charge of examinations there he learned of the fall of Peking (1644) and took an active part in the inauguration of the regency of the Prince of Lu (see under Chu I-hai) and became his loyal supporter. At this time Kao Chieh [q. v.] was tyrannizing Yangchow and the whole southern Kiangsu region was disquieted. Ch'i Piao-chia pacified the people and restored order. He was made governor of Soochow and Sungkiang, continuing his service to the Mings by quelling uprisings and opposing the restoration of a drastic penal system which would further antagonize the people. By his intrepidity and sincerity he induced Kao Chieh to remain loyal to the Ming cause. However, his outspoken criticism made him unpopular with Ma Shih-ying [q. v.] and with the latter's corrupt associates. He therefore went into retirement in the Yün-mên Monastery (雲門寺) near his native place.

When the Manchus advanced to Hangchow they sent gifts to Ch'i Piao-chia to induce him to serve them, but he declined; he repaired to his country home, Yü-Yüan 寓園, where he drowned himself in a shallow pool. The Prince of T'ang (see under Chu Yü-chien) conferred on him the posthumous name, Chung-min 忠敏. In 1776 the Ch'ing Court conferred on him the posthumous name, Chung-hui 忠惠 and entered his name for veneration in the Temple of Martyrs 忠義祠. His wife, Shang Ching-lan 商景蘭 was a woman of high character and literary ability. His nephew, Ch'i Hung-sun 祁鴻孫 (T. 奕遠), served the Ming cause as a general; his eldest son, Ch'i Li-sun 祁理孫 (T. 奕慶) and his second son, Ch'i Pan-sun 祁班孫 (T. 奕喜, 季郎), were captured by the Manchus. The former was ransomed but died, it is said, of grief for the fate of his brother. The latter was exiled to Liaotung but escaped and returned to Kiangsu and became a monk in the Ma-an Monastery (馬鞍寺) at Ch'ang-chou. His identity became known only when he died in 1673.

[M.1/275/15b; M.35/14/1a; M.59/15/9b, 60/11a; Shan-yin-hsien chih (1683) 29/24b, (1803) 14/69b; Yeh Ch'ang-ch'ih (see under P'an Tsu-yin), Ts'ang-shu chi-shih shih 3/50a; (daughters) 21/1/4a; T'oung Pao, 1924, p. 193.]

Earl Swisher