Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Mao Hsiang

MAO Hsiang 冒襄 (T. 辟疆, H. 巢民, 樸庵), Apr. 27, 1611–1693, Dec. 31, scholar, poet, was a native of Ju-kao, Kiangsu. He came from a family, probably of Mongolian origin, which had been domiciled in Ju-kao since the end of the Yüan dynasty. During the Ming period the family produced a number of officials and writers. His father, Mao Ch'i-tsung 冒起宗 (T. 宗起, H. 嵩少, 琮應, 1590?–1654), was a chin-shih of 1628 and an official under Ming rule. From his youth Mao Hsiang was famous as a poet and was applauded by such scholars of his day as Tung Ch'i-ch'ang and Ch'ên Chi-ju [qq. v.]. In 1635 he printed, besides several small collections of his own poems, a facsimile collection of Tung Ch'i-ch'ang's calligraphy, entitled 寒碧樓帖 Han-pi-lou t'ieh. He went several times to take the provincial examination at Nanking, but never passed. Nevertheless he became acquainted there with many scholars and joined the politico-literary society, Fu-shê (see under Chang P'u). He and three other active members of this society, Ch'ên Chên-hui, Hou Fang-yü and Fang I-chih [qq. v.] were known as "The Four Esquires" (Ssŭ-kung-tzŭ 四公子). In 1642, through the help of Ch'ien Ch'ien-i [q. v.], he received from Soochow the beautiful and talented singing-girl, Tung Po 董白 (T. 小宛, 青蓮, 1625–1651), as his concubine. When the Manchus advanced to South China in 1645 Ju-kao, his native place, was threatened by a local uprising. The members of the Mao family fled to Hai-ning, Chekiang, but were pillaged by the Manchus on the way, and so lost everything. They managed, however, to return to Ju-kao after order was restored in 1646.

Mao Hsiang was recommended several times by Ch'ing officials to the Court in Peking, but he refused to join the new regime. About 1650 Tu Chün 杜濬 (T. 于皇, H. 茶村, 1611–1687) edited a selection of Mao Hsiang's works, consisting of 1 chüan of poems, entitled 樸巢詩選 P'u-ch'ao shih-hsüan, and 4 chüan of prose, entitled P'u-ch'ao wên-hsüan (文選). In the following year (1651) Tung Po died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-seven (sui). In memory of her, Mao Hsiang wrote an account of her life in 1 chüan, entitled 影梅庵憶語 Ying-mei an i-yü, ("Reminiscences of the Studio of Shadowy Plum-blossoms") which was translated into English by P'an Tze-yen and published in 1931 under the title, The Reminiscences of Tung Hsiao-wan. In some accounts, she is said to have been kidnapped by Manchu soldiers and sent to the Palace in Peking where she became the most favored consort of Emperor Shih-tsu. But recent investigation shows that the imperial consort was a Manchu woman, Hsiao-hsien [q. v.], who was mistaken for Tung Po, probably because of the similarity in their surnames. Two other talented women who later came to Mao's home as concubines—Ts'ai Han 蔡含 (T. 女羅, 1647–1686) who came in 1665, and Chin Yüeh 金玥 (T. 曉珠) who came in 1667—were both famous painters. He maintained a troupe of boy actors and entertainers for his numerous friends, to whom he was very hospitable.

Among Mao Hsiang's younger friends was Ch'ên Wei-sung [q. v.] who lived in his home for a long time and later passed the po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination of 1679. Mao was also recommended to take the examination but declined the offer. He had so many literary friends that he printed, in 1673, a collection of prose and verse (comprising more than 450 items) which these friends wrote to or for him—entitled 同人集 T'ung jên chi, in 12 chüan. About the same time he brought together his later works in prose and verse in 12 chüan, under the title 巢民詩文集 Ch'ao-min shih wên chi (or 水繪庵集 Shui-hui an chi). His library, Jan-hsiang ko 染香閣, caught fire in 1679 and with it were lost, besides valuable books, the family collection of many objects of art. Four years after his death, three of his short articles, one on tea, another in praise of the bronze incense burners of the Hsüan-tê reign period (1426–1436), and a third on the orchid flower, appeared in 1697 in the first installment of the Chao-tai ts'ung-shu(see under Ch'ên Chên-hui).

Mao Hsiang had a brother, Mao Pao 冒褒 (T. 旡譽, H. 鑄錯, 1644–c. 1725), and two sons, Mao Chia-sui 冒嘉穗 (also named 禾書, T. 穀梁 H. 珠山, b. 1635) and Mao Tan-shu 冒丹書 (T. 青若, H. 卯君, b. 1639), who were all known as poets. One of his descendants, Mao Kuang-shêng 冒廣生 (T. 鶴亭, H. 鷗隱, 疚齋, b. 1873), collected most of the extant works by members of the Mao family, including those of Mao Hsiang and other relatives, and printed them in installments during the years 1911 to 1917 under the title 冒氏叢書 Mao-shih ts'ung-shu.


[Mao Kuang-shêng, 冒巢民先生年譜 Mao Ch'ao-min Hsien-shêng nien-p'u in Mao-shih ts'ung-shu; 1/506/5a; 3/478/21a; 4/126/1a; 20/1/00; New China Review II, p. 9.]

Fang Chao-ying