Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Tung Kao

TUNG Kao 董誥 (T. 雅倫, 西京, H. 蔗林, 柘林), Apr. 23, 1740–1818, Nov. 8, official, painter, and calligrapher, a native of Fu-yang, Chekiang, was a son of Tung Pang-ta [q. v.]. He took his chin-shih degree in 1763, and became a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy with assignment as proof-reader in the Wu-ying tien 武英殿. In this capacity he participated in the revision of the 皇朝禮器圖式 Huang-ch'ao li-ch'i t'u-shih, 18 chüan—an illustrated description of the sacrificial vessels, robes, musical instruments, insignia, etc., used in the ceremonies of the reigning dynasty—which was completed in 1759 and revised in 1766. Tung Kao was appointed a compiler of the second class in the Hanlin Academy (1766) and in 1771 was ordered to serve in the Imperial Study. After filling various posts in the Hanlin Academy and in the Supervisorate of Imperial Instruction, he became examiner of the provincial examination in Kiangnan (1774), subchancellor of the Grand Secretariat (1775), and junior vice-president of the Board of Works (1776–77). In 1776 he was made assistant director-general of the Ssŭ-k'u Commission and director-general of the Wu-ying tien, chiefly in charge of the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu hui-yao (see under Chi Yün). He served as junior, and then senior, vice-president of the Board of Revenue (1777–87) and was appointed director-general (1777) for the compilation of the 滿洲源流考 Man-chou yüan-liu k'ao, 20 chüan, an historical and geographical study of Manchuria, completed in 1783. In 1778 he was in charge of the Bureau of Music, and in the following year became a Grand Councilor. After a term of ten years as president of the Board of Revenue (1787–96) he was made a Grand Secretary (1796) and concurrently honorary president of the Board of Ceremonies. In 1799 he became director of the Commission on Historiography, and was given the title of Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent. As a reward for his aid in suppressing the White Lotus Sect in Shensi, Hupeh, and Szechwan (see under Ê-lê-têng-pao) he was given (1802) the hereditary rank of Ch'i-tu-yü 騎都尉. In 1808 he was director of the metropolitan examination—a post he again filled in 1811. In the meantime he served as one of the directors for the compilation of the great collection of T'ang prose literature known as 全唐文 Ch'üan T'ang wên, 1,000 + 4 chüan, commissioned in 1808, completed in 1814, and printed shortly after. The collection contains 18,488 essays by 3,042 authors. It was reprinted in 1901 by the Kuang-ya shu-chü (see under Chang Chih-tung). In 1809 he was made Grand Preceptor of the Heir Apparent. Tung Kao retired in 1818 because of illness, and died a few months later. He was canonized as Wên-kung 文恭, and his tablet was entered in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen.

For four decades, during two reign-periods, Tung Kao served in the Court and was honored and trusted by both Emperors—Kao-tsung and Jên-tsung. He was known for his sincerity, tact, and sagacity, and it was largely by these qualities that he and a very few others counteracted the ruinous governmental policies of the notorious Ho-shên [q. v.]. When he died Emperor Jên-tsung attended his funeral in person and honored him with a eulogy.

His paintings were highly prized by both Emperors, who frequently wrote colophons for them. Many of these paintings are preserved in the Imperial Palace and catalogued in the two supplements to the Shih-ch'ü pao-chi (see under Chang Chao). His calligraphy was also highly praised. It is reported that when Emperor Kao-tsung became too old to write with facility not a little of the penmanship attributed to the Emperor was actually the work of Tung Kao.

Tung Kao had four sons. The only one who survived him was Tung Ch'un 董淳, in deference to his father's merits, was in 1813 appointed a department director in the Board of Works.


[1/346/3a; 3/33/26a; 19丁下7b; 20/3/00; 26/2/22b; 28/2/7a; 33/68/1a; Fu-yang hsien chih (1906) 19 chung 15a, 16 chung-mu 14b, 22/65b, 23/46b; Pan-li Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu tang-an (see bibl. under Chi Yün) passim; Ku-kung chou-k'an (see bible under Na-yen-ch'êng) p. 407–443, passim; L.T.C.L.H.M. shang p. 367b.]

Li Man-kuei