Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liu Hsi-hai

LIU Hsi-hai 劉喜海 (T. 燕庭), d. 1853, official and scholar, was a native of Chu-ch'êng, Shantung. He was a great-grandson of the Grand Secretary, Liu T'ung-hsün [q. v.], and the son of Liu Huan-chih (see under Liu T'ung-hsün). A chü-jên of 1816, Liu Hsi-hai was appointed an assistant department director of the Board of War, probably in 1824, two years after his father had died. In 1833, after serving for some time in the Board of Revenue as a department director, he was appointed prefect of T'ing-chou fu in Fukien (1833–38). Thereafter he served as intendant of the Yen-Yü-Sui Circuit, Shensi (1841–45), as provincial judge of Szechwan (1845–47), and as financial commissioner of Chekiang (1847–49). He was recalled to Peking early in 1849. A few months later it was reported by the governor of Chekiang that in the preceding twenty-seven years the deficit of the provincial treasury had accumulated to the amount of several million taels silver. Liu Hsihai was perhaps involved in this case and was reported by the governor as devoting his time to archaeology instead of to his official duties. Thus he lost his rank and left official life Little is known about the rest of his career except that the people of T'ing-chou showed their appreciation of his kind administration by celebrating his name in shrines.

Liu Hsi-hai is best known as a student of ancient inscriptions on metal and stone—a subject known to the Chinese as chin-shih-hsüeh 金石學. In this field he produced several important works, one entitled Chin-shih yüan (苑), 6 chüan, (preface dated 1848) is devoted to the epigraphy of Szechwan; and another, entitled Hai-tung (海東) chin-shih yüan, 8 chüan, deals with the ancient inscriptions of Korea. The first 4 chüan of the latter were printed in 1881, but a complete edition appeared in 1922 from the bibliophile, Liu Chêng-kan (see under Hsü Sung) who added two supplements, one in 6 chüan, another in 2 chüan. Liu Hsi-hai also made an annotated list of ancient inscriptions of Korea, entitled Hai-tung chin-shih ts'un k'ao (存考), which was printed in the 木犀軒叢書 Mu-hsi hsüan ts'ung-shu in 1888. [Mu-hsi hsüan was the library of the Li family of Kiukiang, later owned by Li Shêng-to 李盛鐸 (T. 木齋, 1860–1937), Chinese minister to Japan, 1898–1901, and to Belgium, 1905–09.] Liu made a list of his collection of ancient metal utensils, entitled 嘉蔭簃藏器目 Chia-yin-i ts'ang-ch'i mu, and published some of the inscriptions on them in facsimile under the title 清愛堂家藏鐘鼎彝器款識法帖 Ch'ing-ai-t'ang chia-ts'ang chung-ting i-ch'i k'uan-chih fa-t'ieh. Among his other works may be mentioned: Chia-yin-i lun-ch'üan chüeh-chü (論泉絕句), 2 chüan, printed in 1838, poems about ancient coins; 古泉苑 ku-ch'uan yüan, reproductions in facsimile of ancient coins, the manuscripts of which, numbering more than ten volumes in 100 chüan, are said to have been in the possession of Ch'ên Chieh-ch'i 陳介祺 (T. 壽卿, H. 簠齋, 1813–1884) of Wei-hsien, Shantung; 蒼玉洞宋人題名 Ts'ang-yü-tung Sung-jên t'i-ming, printed in 1834, being reproductions of certain names inscribed on a cliff east of Ch'ang-t'ing, Fukien, during the Sung dynasty; 長安獲古編 Ch'ang-an huo-ku pien, 2 chüan, a study of the ancient bronzes he found in Sian, which was first printed by himself and reprinted in 1905 by Liu Ê [q. v.] who added a supplement of 1 chüan; 洛陽存古錄 Lo-yang ts'un-ku lu; 龍門造像錄 Lung-mên tsao-hsiang lu; and 昭陵碑考 Chao-ling pei k'ao—the last three being on the antiquities of Honan and Shensi. The Shantung Provincial Library possesses the original manuscripts of the Ch'ang-an huo-ku pien and an unpublished work on ancient coins, 泉幣圖釋 Ch'uan-pi t'u-shih.

The above-mentioned Ch'ên Chieh-ch'i was also a famous Shantung collector of antiques. He was the son of Ch'ên Kuan-chün 陳官俊 (T. 籲尊, H. 偉堂, chin-shih of 1808, posthumous name 文愨), an Associate Grand Secretary (1844–49). Ch'ên Chieh-ch'i, a chin-shih of 1845, possessed several thousand rubbings of inscriptions on stone, a collection of ancient coins, and several hundred bronzes. Among his bronzes was the famous vessel, Mao-kung ting 毛公鼎. Rubbings of the inscriptions on his bronzes were edited and reproduced in 1918 by Têng Shih 鄧實, under the title 簠齋吉金錄 Fu-chai chi-chin lu. Some of his bronzes are preserved in the Shantung Provincial Library which also possesses part of the collection of another connoisseur of antiques, Wu Shih-fên 吳式芬 (T. 子芯, H. 誦孫, 1796–1856 chin-shih of 1835) of Hai-fêng, Shantung. Wu served as financial commissioner of Shensi (1851–53) and as a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat (1855–56). His catalogue of bronzes and stone inscriptions from ancient times to the end of the Yüan dynasty, entitled 攈古錄 Chün-ku lu, 20 chüan, was printed about 1895. In that year there appeared his book of reproductions of inscriptions on bronzes, entitled Chün ku-lu chin-wên (金文), 3 chüan. He had a fine collection of bronzes, seals, and other objects of antiquity which he stored in the studio, Shuang Yü-hu chai 雙虞壺齋. His son, Wu Chung-hsi 吳重憙 (b. 1838), a Vice-Minister of Communications (1906–08), was the son-in-law of Ch'ên Chieh-ch'i.

Another Shantung collector of antiques was Li Tso-hsien 李佐賢 (T. 竹朋), a chin-shih of 1835, prefect of T'ing-chou-fu, Fukien (1846–51), who specialized in numismatics.


[Chu-ch'êng hsien hsü-chih (1834) 11/1b; 長汀縣志 Ch'ang-t'ing (Fukien) hsien-chih (1879) 20/35b, 23/23b; Hsü (續) Shensi t'ung-chih kao (1934) 12/15a; Tung-hua lu, Tao-kuang 25:4, 27:6, 28:12, 29:5; Shantung t'ung-chih (1915) 175/44b; T'oung Pao 1923, pp. 303–08; ibid, 1928–29, p. 136; 金石著述名家考略 Chin-shih chu-shu ming-chia k'ao-lüeh, p. 37b; 1/218/13b–19b; Yenching Journal of Sinological Studies, no. 12 (1932), p. 2713; Shantung shêng-li t'u-shu-kuan chi-k'an (Shantung Provincial Library Quarterly) no. 2 (1936) 專載, p. 11–25; 吳氏世德錄 Wu-shih shih-tê lu, vol. 4; 金石書錄目 Chin-shih shu lu-mu.]

Fang Chao-ying