Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ien Tsai

CH'IEN Tsai 錢載 (T. 坤一, H. 蘀石, 根苑, 瓠尊, 萬松居士, 萬蒼翁), Oct. 21, 1708–1793, official, poet, and painter, was a native of Hsiu-shui, Chekiang, and a relative of Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün [q. v.]. He came from a poor family but by dint of hard study early established a reputation as a poet. About the year 1725 he began to teach the sons of Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün, and while so engaged, learned painting from the latter's mother, Ch'ên Shu [q. v.]. In 1736 Ch'ien Tsai competed in the second special po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination of 1736 (see under Liu Lun) but failed to qualify. In 1751 he failed in another special examination for classical scholars (see under Ku Tung-kao). Nevertheless in the following year he became a chin-shih with high honors, was selected a bachelor of the Hanlin Academy and later was given the rank of a compiler. Thereafter he served several times as a provincial examiner (Kwangsi in 1759, Kiangnan in 1765 and 1780, Kiangsi in 1774 and 1779) and as diarist of the emperor's movements. In 1773 he was appointed a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat and two years later, a teacher in the school known as Shang-shu fang (see under Yin-chên) where the sons of the emperor studied. He served a year as commissioner of education in Shantung (1776–77), and once represented the emperor in offering sacrifices to the sacred mountain and the tombs of ancient emperors in Shensi and Szechwan (1780). In 1780 he was promoted to a vice-presidency in the Board of Ceremonies, but three years later was ordered to retire on account of old age and deafness. He lived at his home for ten years more.

Ch'ien Tsai is known as a painter and as a connoisseur of paintings and calligraphy. Many of the verses which he wrote were about masterpieces by earlier artists. In the collection of his poetry, entitled 蘀石齋詩集 T'o-shih chai shih-chi, 50 chüan, are references to many celebrities of the Ch'ien-lung period who were his friends. There is also a collection of his prose writings, entitled T'o-shih chai wen (文) chi, 26 chüan. Both collections were probably printed by himself.


[1/311/5a; 3/91/25a; 20/3/00; 26/2/8b; 27/12/1b; 29/5/17a; 31/9/1b; L.T.C.L.H.M., p. 425a; Ch'üan Tsu-wang [q. v.], Kung-chü chêng-shih lu, p. 68a.]

Fang Chao-ying