CHA Li 查禮 (original ming 爲禮, 學禮, T. 恂叔, 魯存, H. 儉堂, 榕巢, 茶坨, 藕汀, 鐵橋, 紅螺山人, 九峯老人, 澹安居士), July 27, 1715–1783, Jan. 31, official and poet, was a native of Wan-p'ing (Peking). From the T'ang period onward his family lived in southern Anhwei, from where his branch of the family first moved to Lin-ch'uan, Kiangsi, and then to Peking. His great-great-great-grandfather came to live in Peking in 1590. When the Ming Dynasty ended in 1644 and Peking fell into disorder, seven women of the family committed suicide. Under the Ch'ing dynasty his father, Cha Jih-ch'ien 查日乾 ( 天行, 惕人, 慕園, 1667–1741), at first served as a clerk in the Customs at Tientsin but sometime before 1705 became an agent of the notorious salt merchant, Chang Lin (see under An Ch'i). Cha Jih-ch'ien's field of activity was the Peking area where he monopolized the sale of salt and made an annual profit of from one to two hundred thousand taels. He was energetic and shrewd and made friends with many officials at Court, including his distant relatives, Cha Shên-hsing [q. v.] and Cha Shêng (see under Cha Chi-tso). Gradually he became very wealthy, maintaining houses in Peking and Tientsin and owning a large country villa on the river (Pei-ho) north of Tientsin. This villa, named Shui-hsi chuang 水西莊, became a famous meeting place for men of letters on their way to and from Peking. Cha Jih-ch'ien began his studies after the age of twenty, and by the time he was seventy wrote a work on the 左傳 Tso-chuan and a collection of historical essays.
Cha Li, third son of Cha Jih-ch'ien, failed several times in the examinations for the chü-jên degree. Finally he purchased the rank of a secretary in the Board of Revenue, beginning service in that capacity in 1748. Late in that year he was appointed a sub-prefect in Yunnan, but early in the following year, before he left Peking, he was named sub-prefect of Ch'ing-yüan-fu, Kwangsi. Then he served as prefect of T'ai-p'ing-fu, Kwangsi (1755–62), and retired, owing to his mother's advanced age. His mother died in 1762 (age 85 sui) while he was on his way home.
After staying in Peking and Tientsin for five years Cha Li was appointed prefect of Ning-yüan-fu, Szechwan (1767), and two years later was promoted to be an intendant, first of the Circuit of Northern Szechwan (1769–70), and then of the Sung-Mao Circuit in northwestern Szechwan (1770–72). When the Chin-ch'uan War of 1771–76 broke out, he served on the commission for military supplies, supervising in person the transport of provisions. In 1772 he was cashiered, owing to delay in delivery, but was ordered to redeem himself by serving without rank. In 1773, after the army of Wên-fu (see under A-kuei) was annihilated by the Chin-ch'uan rebels, Cha Li attempted to rescue the defeated troops with a small detachment, but was forced to retreat. In the course of some twenty days and nights when he tried to maintain a foothold near Mei-no 美諾, his hair and beard are said to have turned white with anxiety. His work as quartermaster led to extensive travelling in western Szechwan, and he was twice sent to the Kokonor border in search of certain Tibetan robbers and murderers (1774–75, 1776–77). After the war ended (1776) he also served for a time as supervisor for the cultivation of land in the war region west of Shêngtu. For his achievements he was rewarded with the decoration of the peacock feather. Thereafter he served in Szechwan as provincial judge (1779–80), and as financial commissioner (1780–82). In 1782 he was named governor of Hunan and went to Peking for an audience, and there died.
The collected works of Cha Li, entitled 銅鼓書堂遺稿 T'ung-ku shu-t'ang i-kao, 32 chüan, were edited and printed in 1788 by his son, Cha Ch'un 查淳 (厚之, 篆仙, 梅舫, b. 1734), who was then serving as prefect of Kweilin, Kwangsi. Cha Li also achieved note as a painter of the prunus flower. A portrait of him riding a white horse, a bow and quiver at his side, and a sword strapped to his back, is reproduced in the pictorial bi-monthly of the Hopei Provincial Museum in Tientsin, entitled 河北第一博物院畫報 Ho-pei ti-i po-wu-yüan hua-pao, no. 49. It shows him with white hair, white beard, and the decoration of the peacock feather, indicating that the painting was made sometime after 1776. It is part of a larger painting commemorating his share in the Chin-ch'uan War—a painting now preserved by one of his descendants.
The eldest brother of Cha Li, named Cha Wei-jên 查爲仁 (心穀, 蓮坡, 1694–1749), became a chü-jên with highest honors in 1711; but as he was accused of obtaining this honor by bribery he was imprisoned for eight years (1712–20). After his release he lived luxuriously and befriended many poor scholars in his villa, Shui-hsi chuang. He left two collections of writings—蔗塘未定稿 Chê-t'ang wei-ting kao (in 7 parts), and Chê-t'ang wai-chi (外集, in 4 parts)—both of which were printed about 1743. They are examples of the ornate composition admired at the time. The elder son of Cha Wei-jên named Cha Shan-ch'ang 查善長 ( 樹初, 鐵雲, b. 1729), was a chin-shih of 1754 who served for many years as censor. His second son, Cha Shan-ho 查善和 ( 用咸, 東軒, 介仲, b. 1733), continued the family tradition as salt merchant—a trade in which the family is still engaged.
In 1748, when Emperor Kao-tsung made a tour to Shantung, he passed twice through Tientsin whose inhabitants made extensive preparations for his welcome. He spent a night in the Cha family villa, Shui-hsi chuang, and thereafter that villa became state property, being designated hsing-kung 行宮, or palace used by the emperor when travelling. Some persons conjecture that the famous theater in Peking, the Kuang-ho lou 廣和樓, which at one time was called Cha-lou 查樓 was originally a possession of the Cha family. This theater, one of the oldest in China, is described in the Japanese travel account 唐土名勝圖繪 Tōdō meishō zue, of 1805.
[1/338/5a; 3/181/45a; 4/85/14a; 26/2/26a; 28/6/3a; 29/4/35b; 3/454/7a; 3/255/59a; 6/45/15b; 天津府志 T'ien-chin-fu chih (1899) 43/11b–14a; T'ien-chin-hsien hsin-chih (縣新志) 23/38b; Ho-pei ti-i po-wu-yüan hua-pao, no. 49 (Sept. 25, 1933); 文獻叢編 Wên-hsien ts'ung-pien nos. 2, 12.]