Hong xue yin yuan tu ji [An Illustrated Record of Goose Tracks in the Snow].

WANYAN LINQING. author (1849].)

£22500.00  [First Edition]

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THE MOST RICHLY ILLUSTRATED AUTO-BIOGRAPHY IN CHINA

First edition. 3 parts bound in 6 vols. 240 foldout woodcut plates. 4to. Stitched wrappers preserved in folding cloth case, lacking title-slips. Minor worming (restored) and a few repairs, some very occasional water-staining, but overall still a very good set. Yangzhou, [Privately Printed], dated: Daoguang ding wei [i.e. 1847-

An important illustrated biography by the Manchu nobleman and official Wanyan Linqing (1791-1846) whose family belonged to the inner circle of the Imperial family as bao-yi bond servants of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner. He attained the jinshi degree in 1809, was made secretary at the Board of War in 1814, and four years later entered the Han-lin Academy. From 1823 he held several positions in Anhui Province, became a provincial judge in Henan Province (1829) and subsequently served as provincial Governor of Hubei (1833). In 1833 he was promoted to Governor-General of the Jiangnan watercourses and he published several works on flood prevention, river conservancy and dike-construction. All of these positions demanded a great deal of travelling throughout the empire (which he didn’t enjoy) but his narrative provides a vivid insight into the workings of the Qing administration during the first half of the 19th century. Linqing took great interest in garden architecture and seems to have missed no opportunity to visit interesting temples and gardens along the way which he describes in great detail. The style of the writing is a beautiful mix of personal observation, mixed with philosophical remarks and a deep sense of continuity in the tradition of the scholar official which would come to an abrupt end in the next generation. 

Linqing published two volumes of his auto-biography (under the same title as the above) in 1839 and 1841 respectively, both without illustrations, and a third volume was unfinished in the year of his death. As an act of filial piety, his sons Wanyan Chongshi (1820- 1876) and Wanyan Chonghou (1826-1893) published this enlarged 6vol. version in Yangzhou between 1847 and 1849. It was a testament to their father and the volumes are illustrated with 240 finely engraved double-page woodcut plates by Chen Jian, Wang Yingfu, Wang Wei and other artists, each recording a separate event. Some of the woodcuts were copied from another biography, namely Zhang Bao’s ‘Images of a Floating Raft (Fancha tu)’, published also in six vols. between 1819 and 1832. The first edition comprising 1,000 copies (size 24.6×16 cm) was brought to Peking, but the wooden blocks were burned during the Taiping wars of 1860. The book became popular and in 1880 a photo-lithographed edition was published in Shanghai; the size was reduced to 20×13 cm. 

This book is one of the finest examples of a self-published woodblock printed book in the later Qing period.

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Stock Code: 232686

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