Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Sun I-jang

SUN I-jang 孫詒讓 (T. 仲容, H. 籀䯧[廎]), Sept. 11, 1848–1908, June 20, a prominent scholar of the late Ch‘ing period, was a native of Jui-an, Chekiang. His father, Sun I-yen 孫衣言 (T. 劭聞, H. 琴西, 1815–1895), official and scholar, was a chin-shih of 1850. During his childhood Sun I-jang resided in Peking for several years while his father was holding office at the capital. When the father was appointed prefect of Anking, Anhwei, in 1858, the family went back to the ancestral home. At this time South China was ravaged by the Taiping Rebellion and North China was pressed by the Anglo-French forces at Tientsin and Peking (1860). Sun I-jang's only brother, Sun I-ku 孫詒穀 (T. 稷民, 1838–1862), died fighting the Taipings. His father assisted Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.] in campaigning against the Taipings, and in 1864 was stationed at Shou-chou, Anhwei, where Sun I-jang joined him. Sun I-jang's grandparents having died successively in 1864-65, his father, Sun I-yen, retired from official life and taught in the Tzŭ-yang (紫陽) Academy at Hangchow. While so employed, the latter made a collection of unpublished writings by authors of his native place, and these were brought together in a collectanea, entitled 永嘉叢書 Yung-chia ts'ung-shu, which was printed during the years 1868–1882. In editing and collating these writings Sun I-jang was apparently his father's chief assistant. In 1865 he began to take an interest in the study of inscriptions on stone and bronze—a field in which he later made substantial contributions. Although he became a chü-jên in 1867, and competed five times in the metropolitan examination, he did not qualify for the chin-shih degree.

The loss of books and the dispersal of great family libraries, incidental to the Taiping Rebellion, doubtless encouraged Sun I-jang in the collection of rare books and manuscripts. Some of these he obtained from Japan, where they had been long preserved, but were being dispersed, owing to a growing interest in Western subjects. With the encouragement of his father he began to assemble a library, and in 1888 his father built for him the studio, Yü-hai lou 玉海樓, to house the collection. In 1869 the son started to compile a bibliography of writings by authors from Wên-chou, the prefecture to which his native district belonged. This bibliography, completed two years later under the title 温州經籍志 Wên-chou ching-chi chih, 36 chüan, was printed by the Chekiang Public Library in 1921. When the father was made provincial judge of Anhwei in 1873 the son accompanied him to that province. In 1875 Sun I-jang made a study of ancient calendars and produced a work on the subject, entitled 六厤甄微 Liu-li chên-wei. When, in 1877, the father was transferred to the post of lieutenant-governor of Chiang-ning (Nanking) the son again went with him. Then Sun I-jang began his well-known study of the texts of Mo Ti (see under Pi Yüan) which bore fruit in the important work 墨子間詁 Mo-tzŭ chien-ku. The first draft was completed in 1893, and in the following year three hundred copies were printed. After further study, it reached its final form in 19 chüan (including a table-of-contents in 1 chüan, supplement in 1 chüan, and an appendix in 2 chüan, entitled 後語 Hou-yü) and was reprinted in 1907. He collated the very confused text of Mo-tzŭ, provided it with interpretations from earlier scholars, and pointed out the unauthenticity of several chapters. The appendix (hou-yü) consists of a biographical sketch of Mo Ti, a chronological chart of his life, an account of his school and his disciples, a study of the statements attributed to him by other authors, references to his school in ancient literature, and a bibliography of the school. Important earlier studies by others in the same field were: Mo-tzŭ by Pi Yüan [q. v.]; Tu Mo-tzŭ tsa-chih in the Tu-shu tsa-chih by Wang Nien-sun [q. v.]; and Mo-tzŭ p'ing-i in the Chu-tzŭ p'ing-i by Yü Yüeh [q. v.]. An independent supplement to Sun I-jang's work, known as Hsü (續) Mo-tzŭ chien-ku was prepared by Liu Ch'ang 劉昶 (T. 載賡) and printed in 1915. Sun's study notes, entitled 札迻 Cha-i, 12 chüan, took final shape in 1893 and were printed in the following year.

Sun I-jang returned to his native place in 1878, and his father retired from official life in 1879. Then the younger Sun assisted in the compilation of the gazetteer, Yung-chia hsien-chih, 38 chüan, which was completed and printed in 1882. About the year 1885 he took office in Peking as a secretary in the Board of Punishments, and though he soon retired he made the acquaintance of well-known scholars in the field of epigraphy, such as Wu Ta-ch'êng [q. v.] and Ch'ên Chieh-ch'i (see under Liu Hsi-hai). In this field he later left several works, among which may be mentioned the 古籀拾遺 Ku-chou shih-i, 3 chüan, with a supplement of 1 chüan, printed in 1888; and the Ku-chou yü-lun (餘論), 3 chüan, printed in 1929. With the discovery in 1899 of the divination bones of the Yin dynasty and the publication, in 1903, of the T'ieh-yün ts'ang-kuei by Liu Ê [q. v.]—the first work to reproduce in facsimile the inscriptions on bone—few scholars paid attention to this subject. On reading Liu's work, Sun I-jang remarked that he had never dreamed of seeing, at his advanced age, such excellent helps to scholarship. His earlier training in epigraphy made it possible for him to interpret these inscriptions with some facility, and in 1904 he wrote a work, entitled 契文舉 例 Ch'i-wên chü-li, 2 chüan, which was printed in 1917 in the 吉石盦叢書 Chi-shih an ts'ung-shu. He there pointed out how a study of the inscriptions would shed new light on Chinese etymology, history, the calendar, geography, and many other aspects of Chinese antiquity. He also wrote a work on etymology, entitled 名原 Ming-yüan, 2 chüan, printed in 1905, in which he compared the characters on the Yin bones with the inscriptions on stone and bronze, or those transmitted in other sources. These two works mark the beginning of the study of inscriptions on bone, known as Chia-ku hsüeh (see under Liu Ê). A study by Sun I-jang of the Classic of History, entitled 尚書駢枝 Shang-shu p'ien-chih, was completed in 1892; and another of the Institutes of Chou, entitled 周禮正義 Chou-li chêng-i, 86 chüan, which he began in 1872 and completed in 1899, was printed in 1905. At an exhibition given in 1936 by the Chekiang Provincial Library to show the cultural contributions of Chekiang scholars, some eighteen collated books and manuscripts by Sun I-jang were placed on display (see Wên-lan hsüeh-pao 文瀾學報, vol. II, nos. 3–4). The magazine 青鶴 Ch'ing-ho (1934–35) published in serial form some of his remaining prose writings under the title 經微室遺文 Ching-wei shihi-wên.

After the Sino-Japanese war (1894–95) Sun I-jang devoted himself to educational work in his native place. It is reported that in the course of three years more than three hundred primary and middle schools were established under his influence in the two prefectures of Wên-chou and Ch'u-chou. In 1897 he made the acquaintance of Chang Ping-lin 章炳麟 (T. 枚叔, H. 太炎, 1868–1936), one of the last prominent scholars of the old school. During the ill-fated reform movement of 1898 he was recommended at Court, but declined to take office, and so escaped the fate of the members of the progressive party. In 1902 he was made principal of the Wên-chou middle school and in 1905 he established, in cooperation with others, a school for the study of chemistry. In the autumn of the same year he was offered the chair of Classics in the newly-founded Peking University, but declined. He accepted appointment in 1906 as second rank consulting expert to the Ministry of Education, but served concurrently as principal of the Wênchou Normal School. In the spring of 1908 he was stricken with paralysis and died in June.

An uncle of Sun I-jang, named Sun Ch'ang-ming 孫鏘鳴 (T. 韶甫, H. 渠田, 1817–1901), was a chin-shih of 1841 who took part in recruiting volunteers to withstand the Taiping Rebels.


[1/488/38a; 6/41/19a; Sung Tz'ŭ-pao, chronological biography of Sun I-jang in Tung-fang tsa-chih (Eastern Miscellany), vol. 23, no. 12; Chu Fang-p'u 朱芳圃, Sun I-jang nien-p'u (1934), with portrait; Chang Shou-hsien, a survey of Sun's work as a scholar, in 清儒學術討論集 Ch'ing-ju hsüeh-shu t'ao-lun chi (1930) series one, hsia; Mei, Y. P. The Ethical and Political Works of Motse (1929); idem., Motse the Neglecled Rival of Confucius (1934).]

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