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Chinese Literature
Yinshi 印史 "A History of Seals"


The Yinshi 印史 "History of Seals" is a book on seal inscriptions compiled by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar He Tong 何通, courtesy name He Buwei 何不違. He came from Songjiang 松江 (modern Songjiang near Shanghai). The 5 juan "scrolls" long book was compiled during the Wanli reign 萬曆 (1573-1619). It is a collection of private seals of several hundred persons through the ages, from the Qin 秦 (221-206 BCE) to the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). Besides a reproduction of the seal, the book provides a small biography of each person. The seals are not in any case arranged chronologically, for instance, Li Si 李斯 appears before Shang Yang 商鞅. The headline Shangshan si hao 商山四皓 is not followed by all four "old men from Mt. Shangshan", but only by two of them. He Tong makes mistakes in his reproduction of Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) seals, expecially in the case of seals that include two names or a person with a two-syllable family name. The seal script style of Han period seals is often rendered in the "bell-and-tripod style" (zhongding wen 鐘鼎文), and not in the contemporary seal script (zhuanwen 篆文) or in chancery script (lishu 隸書). It can thus be seen that reproductions are not based on originals, but according to imagination. The text was therefore not included in the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu, but it is to be found in the collectaneum Xunyan yinxue congshu 遁盦印學叢書.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1821.

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October 26, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail