Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Têng Shih-ju

TÊNG Shih-ju 鄧石如 (T. 頑白, H. 完白山人, 笈遊道人), 1743 (1739?)–1805, calligrapher and seal carver, was born in the town of Chi-hsien kuan (集賢關) in the Huai-ning (Anking) district, Anhwei. His ming was originally Yen 琰, but as it coincided with part of the personal name of Emperor Jên-tsung he referred to himself by his tzŭ, Shih-ju. His father, Têng I-chih 鄧一枝 (T. 木齋), was a scholar as well as a calligrapher; but, ignored by the world because of his intolerance of others, he made only a meagre living. Têng Shih-ju, having in his youth no opportunity to study, engaged in the business of making and selling seals and rubbings of inscriptions on stone and bronze. When he was about twenty sui, he and his grandfather went to Shou-chou, Anhwei, where several years later he gained the recognition of a famous calligrapher, Liang Hsien (see under Liang T'ung-shu), who was then director of the Shou-ch'un 壽春 Academy in that town. On the recommendation of Liang he was invited to live in Nanking for eight years at the residence of Mei Liu 梅鏐 (T. 石君), Son of Mei Ku-ch'êng [q. v.], who had a good collection of inscriptions on stone and bronze. Têng studied these inscriptions intensively and so gradually mastered the technique of calligraphy.

Thereafter he traveled through the neighboring provinces selling specimens of his handwriting and the seals he carved. In 1785 he made the acquaintance of Chang Hui-yen [q. v.] who lived in the house of Chin Pang 金榜 (T. 蘂中, 輔之, H. 檠齋, 1735–1801) at Shê-hsien, Anhwei. There he remained for more than a year. Through Chang he gained the recognition of Ts'ao Wên-ch'ih (see under Ts'ao Chên-yung), a former president of the Board of Revenue 1785–87), who had retired to his native residence in Shê-hsien. In the autumn of 1790 he accompanied Ts'ao to Peking where he enjoyed the patronage of Lu Hsi-hsiung and Liu Yung [qq. v.]. Têng, however, is said to have been ignored by the followers of Wêng Fang-kang [q. v.] who held a leading place in calligraphic circles at the capital. At any rate he soon left the capital and went to Wuchang where he stayed for about three years under the patronage of Pi Yüan [q. v.], then governor-general of Hunan and Hupeh and to whom he had been recommended by Liu Yung. For about ten years—late in his career—Têng traveled in the eastern provinces seeking places of scenic beauty. In this period the brilliant critic of calligraphy, Pao Shih-ch'ên [q. v.], became one of his intimate friends. Têng Shih-ju was a large-minded and unconventional man, irregular in his habits, and a heavy drinker. He first married when he was forty-six sui. His wife died several years later and he remarried. When he himself died, late in 1805, his sons were of tender age.

A highly-gifted calligrapher, Têng Shih-ju was particularly skilled in the chuan and the li styles (see under Ho Shao-chi). His handwritings in these two styles may be said to have altered the trend in Chinese calligraphy. After the Sung period calligraphers pursued their studies chiefly on the basis of copied texts, but about the middle of the Ch'ing period, under the influence of archaeological studies, they began to follow ancient calligraphy from actual rubbings made from stone and bronze. The former was called the T'ieh, or Copy Book, School (帖學派), of which Liu Yung was one of the last brilliant exponents. The latter was called the Pei, or Monument, School (碑學派), of which Têng Shih-ju was the representative. For this reason the chuan and the li styles, which had little vogue after the time of the eighth century calligrapher, Li Yang-ping 李陽冰 (T. 少温), flourished greatly at the close of the Ch'ing period. The following albums of Têng's handwritings were printed: 篆書十五種 Chuan-shu shih-wu chung; 心經 Hsin-ching; and 樂志論 Lo-chih lun. Recently several other reproductions of his handwritings have appeared.

Têng’s eldest Son, Têng Ch'uan-mi 鄧傳密 (T. 守之, original ming 廷璽), studied under Li Chao-lo [q. v.], a friend of his father. He later worked under Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.]. Like his father he was a good calligrapher, skilled in the chuan style. Among the many calligraphers whom Têng Shih-ju influenced, may be mentioned Yang I-sun 楊沂孫 (T. 子與, H. 詠春, 濠叟, 1813–1881) and Wu Ta-ch'êng [q. v.], both skilled in the chuan style. A recent famous calligrapher of this school was Wu Ch'ang-shih 吳昌碩 (T. 蒼石, H. 苦鐵, 缶廬, original ming 俊卿, 1844–1927).


[1/508/3b; 3/441/6a; 7/44/11a; 20/4/00; Fang Li-ch'ien 方履籛, 萬善花室文藁 Wan-shan hua-shih wên-kao 5/1b; Chang Hui-yen [q. v.], Ming-k'o wên pu-pien 外上/21a; Ma Tsung-huo 馬宗霍, 書林藻鑑 Shu-lin tsao-chien (1915) 21/5a; Arigaya Seidō, 支那書道史概說 Shina shodō-shi gaisetsu (1930) pp. 538–545.]

Hiromu Momose