Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/K'ung Shang-jên

K'UNG Shang-jên 孔尚任 (T. 聘之, 季重, H. 東塘, 岸塘, 云亭山人), Nov. 1, 1648–1718 Feb. 14, scholar and dramatist, a native of Ch'ü-fu, Shantung, was a descendant of Confucius in the sixty-fourth generation. His father, K'ung Chên-fan 孔貞璠 (T. 用璞), was a chü-jên of 1633. K'ung Shang-jên built a studio in the Shih-mên hills (石門山) about fifty li north-east of Ch'ü-fu, which he styled Ku-yün ts'ao-t'ang 孤雲草堂 "The Lonely Cloud Villa." There he remained several years, until 1682, to devote himself to study. In 1684 he completed the compilation of the family genealogy (家譜) in 24 chüan and re-edited the 闕里志 Ch'üeh-li chih, or history of the locality in which Confucius was born. A revised edition of the latter appeared in 1697. He also instructed, in the rites and in music, some 700 descendants of the sages who had in ancient times lived near Ch'ü-fu. In 1684 when Emperor Shêng-tsu stopped at Ch'ü-fu on his return from the south, K'ung Shang-jên was requested to lecture to him on the classics. In recognition of his services he was made a doctor (博士) in the Imperial Academy. In 1686 he was appointed to assist Sun Tsai-fêng 孫在豐 (T. 屺瞻, 1644–1689) in conservancy work on the Yellow River, with headquarters at Ch'ên-chou, Honan. Returning to the capital in 1689, he remained at his original post in the Academy for five years more. Owing to his interest in music there came into his possession in 1691 a small stringed instrument, hsiao hu-lei 小忽雷, of the T'ang dynasty, which became the theme of a drama of the same name, jointly written in 1694 by K'ung Shang-jên and Ku Ts'ai 顧彩 (T. 天石, H. 夢鶴居士). The instrument in question, together with a larger one of the same period, is now the property of Liu Shih-hêng (see under Liu Jui-fên) who compiled and published in 1911 a collection of literature on these instruments, entitled 雙忽雷本事 Shuang hu-lei pên-shih. Pictures of both instruments appear in the journal, 史學與地學 Shih-hsüeh yü ti-hsüeh, no. 2, July 1927.

In 1694 K'ung Shang-jên was promoted to be a secretary of the Board of Revenue and in 1699 an assistant department director in the same Board. But in the latter year he was dismissed from office. He lived in Peking until 1701 and then returned to Ch'ü-fu. It was in the spring of the year 1699 that he completed, after three revisions, his masterpiece in drama, the 桃花扇 T'ao-hua shan or "Peach Blossom Fan." It was received into the Palace in the autumn of the same year and by the following spring had already become popular. The plot is laid in Nanking and is based on historical events of the years 1644–45. The characters are all names of real persons of the period, such as Juan Ta-ch'êng, Ma Shih-ying, Kao Chieh, Shih K'o-fa [qq. v.], et al. The hero is Hou Fang-yü [q. v.] and the heroine, Li Hsiang-chün (see under Hou Fang-yü). In literary quality this drama ranks among the greatest in the Chinese language. K'ung Shang-jên and Hung Shêng [q. v.] were regarded as the two outstanding masters of the time—being known as "K'ung of the North and Hung of the South" (南洪北孔).

The Ssŭ-k'u Catalogue (see under Chi Yün) gives notice of four works by K'ung Shang-jên. One of these constitutes his literary collection, 湖海集 Hu-hai chi, in 13 chüan, composed during his years of labor in the River Conservancy, hence the title. A short work in 1 chüan, 出山異數紀 Ch'u-shan i-shu chi is an account of his life from the time he left Shih-mên shan to the time he entered the Academy in Peking. It is included in the second series of the Chao-tai ts'ung-shu (see under Ch'ên Chên-hui). In the same tsʻung-shu can be found his 人瑞錄 Jên-jui lu, in 1 chüan—a statistical report of the number of persons in sixteen provinces of the empire who in the year 1688 had lived to be seventy years of age or more. In 1687 he obtained a bronze foot-measure dated 81 A. D. This remained in the possession of the K'ung family, and is referred to in the writings of Wêng Fang-kang [q. v.] and Wang Kuo-wei (see Wên T'ing-shih). While he did not write on antiquarian or philosophical subjects, he greatly admired the scholarship of such men as Fei Mi, Li Kung, and Wan Ssŭ-t'ung [qq. v.]. A short work of his, entitled 享金簿 Hsiang chin pu, is a catalogue of his collection of art objects in the fields of calligraphy, painting, epigraphy, and bronzes. It was first printed in 1911 in the seventh series of the 美術叢書 Mei-shu ts'ung-shu.


[3/142/54a; 15/6/14a; 23/13/8a; Ch'ü-fu-hsien chih (1774) 87/9b; Jung Chao-tsu 容肇祖, Kung Shang-jên nien-p'u in Lingnan Journal III, no. 2; Ssŭ-k'u 63/6a, 67/2b, 133/4a, 184/1a; Wêng Fang-kang [q. v.], Fu-ch'u chai wên-chi 15/18a; Wang Kuo-wei, 觀堂集林 Kuan-t'ang chi lin 19; Aoki Seiji 青木正兒, 支那近世戲曲史 Shina kinsei gikyoku shi, pp. 595–608; Suzuki Torao 鈴木虎雄, 支那文學研究 Shina bungaku kenkyū, pp. 239–47.]

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