Myth and authenticity: deciphering the Chu Gong Ni Bell inscription.
But the reputed powers of ancient metals, particularly those cast by an unknown Chu Gong into a bell that, according to Song commentators, described itself as an instrument of "night rain and thunder" must have saved at least one of the bells from the junk heap. This was a "thunder bell" described in 1178 by Rong Qi as being about 60--70 millimeters high and decorated with "a naked ghost sitting on the knob--probably a thunder spirit. The five colors are displayed intertwined. An inscription is on the bell's inner section."(4) Since both bells are now lost, we are forced to reconstruct their possible form from the Song accounts, which are often caught up in the mystique of Chu. Rong Qi's description of the decor, for example, derives from mythological images traditionally associated with the south, particularly with the area of southeastern Hubei where the bells were discovered, just north-northeast of the ancient Dongting Lake region--a region steeped in the early lore of mystical journeys and water deities. The cultural association of the area with the ancient state of Chu is seen most clearly in the late Warring States- and Han-period shamanistic songs collected in the Chuci.(5)
Rong Qi's description of bell decor in terms of a "thunder spirit" and "five colors" derives from texts with shamanistic overtones, such as the Shanhaijing and certain poems of the Chuci. One "thunder spirit" is defined in the Shanhaijing, as follows: "In the Thunder Swamp there is a thunder spirit, with a dragon body and a human head. It beats its belly, and lives in Wuxi (i.e., west of the Wu area).(6) In the Chuci poem "Yuan you", the Han poet describes a mystical journey through Heaven in a chariot harnessed with dragons and decorated with flapping banners made from the dazzling "five colors" of the rainbow. During part of this journey, the "Rain God" and "Thunder God" act as his guide and protector, respectively. On his way through Heaven and to enlightenment (via "lightning's fissure"), he encounters various other Chu divinities.(7)
By interpreting the bell decor in terms of the metaphorical world of spirit travel, Rong Qi elevated the "night rain and thunder" bells, as well as their inscriptions by the unknown Chu Gong, to a historical-mythical realm that even most modern Chinese scholars have barely dared to question. By the Southern Song period, the bells--once considered by a local official as inauspicious liabilities--had obviously become metaphors of the region's magical past.(8) Discussion of the bells in comparison with other recently excavated bells may help to dispel some of their mystery.
The modern scholars Li Ling and Gao Zhixi agree that the bell(s) as described could not belong to the bo class, as understood at present, but must have belonged to the yong class of bell.(9) Both of these types were made to be suspended (obliquely in the case of the yong and vertically in the case of the bo) and struck with a mallet.(10) Wang Guowei claimed to have seen a Ye-lei Chu Gong zhong ("Night-Thunder Chu-Lord bell") in the possession of Luo Zhenyu in Shanghai as late as 1915.(11) Unfortunately, the image of the bell in Luo's catalogue (printed in 1917) is a rubbing, the only one in a book otherwise consisting of photographs.(12) The rubbing, now known to be a fake, shows a bell of the nao class, covered with swirling "thunder" ornamentation, apparently a product of Shang or early Western Zhou southern manufacture.
Dragon images were common in bell ornamentation during both the Western and Eastern Zhou periods, and, given the dragon's traditional association with thunder and rain, could easily have been interpreted by a Song scholar as representing a thunder spirit. However, the placement of a dragon on the bell's suspension loop is unusual, the only other such example being on a very late Western Zhou yong bell excavated in Fufeng, Shaanxi--the so-called Nangong Hu zhong.(13) There are examples of bo-class bells where the loops themselves are formed of two dragons (though not, as here, one sitting on the niu or "knob"), but those date from the late Chunqiu or early Warring States periods.(14) On most excavated yong bells, loops and even the shanks to which the loops are attached are either plain or decorated with abstract linear patterns or (in later examples) raised hooked patternon.
Rong Qi's "five colors" may have referred to the abstract bands of linear scrolls typically found between the rows of bosses, as on the Nangong Hu zhong. Such scrolls in Chinese paleography have, since the Han period, been understood to represent clouds.(15) It is unlikely that Rong's "five colors" referred to inlay, as inlaid bells were rare and only then a late Warring States phenomenon.(16)
The inscription of four lines and thirty-six characters, as preserved by the Song compiler, Wang Houzhi,(17) was on the zheng or "central panel" of the bell surface, this being a rectangular, outlined cartouche that is positioned vertically between two flanking and identically decorated panels. There are no examples of bo bells with inscribed zheng panels until the late Chunqi period,(18) but yong bells with inscribed zheng panels are common from the late Western Zhou period.(19) Examples include several Chu yong bells, such as the Chu Gong Jia bells of the late Western Zhou(20) and the Chu Wang bell of the middle Chunqiu period.(21) The Chu Wang Yin Zhang bell of 443 B.C.E. of the early Warring States period is a bo example.
To judge from these facts and comparisons, we can assume that our inscription was most likely on a yong bell, dating sometime from the late Western Zhou up through the Chunqiu period, or--though this is less likely--a bo bell, dating to the late Chunqiu period. Although the mythologically loaded description of the bell does not match perfectly with excavated examples (except for the Nangong Hu zhong), we shall see in our analysis of the inscription that the case for the authenticity of a Chu Gong Ni bell is fairly strong.
In 1888 Sun Yirang attempted to give the figure of Chu Gong some historical veracity. Sun deciphered the personal name as Ni and argued that since ni could be read e, the "Chu lord" must have been Xiong E (r. 799-790),(22) an early Chu ruler who is mentioned in the Shiji.(23) Sun, following tradition, believed "Chu" (as an ancient clan and a polity) originated in the central Yangtze river valley (also regarded as one of the early homes of Chinese shamanism), Recent archaeological research has shown that the Chu polity most likely spread from the middle Han river valley to the south and southeast, although there is disagreement about whether this occurred in the late Western Zhou period or only during the Chunqiu period.(24) The association between the location of the bells' discovery and the identity of Chu Gong Ni will be taken up again shortly, when we examine the inscription itself.
The number of inconsistencies between myth and archaeological fact, along with the odd nature of the inscription itself, tempt one to dismiss the inscription as an ingenious but clumsy forgery. The present form of the wood-cut graphs bears little resemblance to contemporary paleographs and thus makes the complete inscription almost impossible to read. Close examination of the inscription, however, suggests the hand of an ignorant but not necessarily malicious copyist and forces us to give the Chu Gong Ni inscription the benefit of the doubt. Although the inscription is problematic, I transcribe it as follows:(25)
It was the eighth month, day Jia-shen,(26) Chu Gong Ni on his own initiative made a thunderbolt |-sounding~(27) bo-bell.(28) Its inscription says:(29)
"Use |it~ to entertain with music the fathers and older brothers and the various collateral-lords."(30) Gong(31) Ni, may(32) |he~ for ten thousand years have long life. |Use it~ to protect his body.(33) |His~ progeny may eternally treasure |it~.
The language of this inscription is not unique when compared to other contemporary inscriptions, particularly those of the early Eastern Zhou period. Some expressions, however, present problems.
For example, the expression "a thunderbolt bell" is unprecedented in bronze texts; however, the idea of a "thunderbolt" representing a sound with supernatural overtones appears in late Warring States and early Han texts.(34) Earlier, the zhen trigram in the Yijing was interpreted as a thunderbolt or thunderclap. The Xiang or "Image" commentary associates this trigram with "thunder" (lei), a rumbling, creative, but frightening, sound that occurs in swamps.(35) This notion is reconfirmed in the "Yueling" chapter of the Liji, which notes that thunder occurs during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes and is thus associated with the ultimate balance of Yin and Yang forces.(36) These are times--the vernal equinox particularly--dangerous for their creative potential: In this month day and night are equal. Thunder utters its voice, and lightning begins to be seen. Insects in their barrows are all in motion, opening their doors and beginning to come forth. Three days before the thunder, a bell with a wooden tongue is sounded, to give notice to all the people. "The Thunder," it is said, "is about to utter its voice. If any of you be not careful of your behavior, you shall bring forth children incomplete; there are sure to be evils and calamities."(37)
Song mystique aside, there seems to have been a pre-Han sympathetic--perhaps even magical--connection between the use of bells, thunder, and the voice of the supernatural, at least by the time of the late Warring States period. Such beliefs may have derived from earlier southern cults that remain largely undocumented, although sixth-century B.C.E. entries in the Zuo zhuan speak of thunder as a sign of Heaven's will. For example, in a 510 B.C.E. entry the Yijing hexagram "Da zhuang" (no. 34) was understood as "thunder riding Heaven" (lei cheng qian),(38) and in 538 B.C.E. the occurrence of a "thunderclap" (zhen) when it "thundered" (lei) was interpreted as a sign that a winter ice ritual had been improperly performed.(39) It is conceivable, then, that the Chu Gong Ni bell inscription might have been written during the early Chunqiu period by a scribe or ritualist familiar with these beliefs.(40)
Another expression rarely found in bronze texts is: "its inscription says." Similar expressions do occur in northern inscriptions (unless we accept the Nangong Hu bell to be of southern origin).(41) However, the main instruction or ming ("charge") of the inscription (i.e., the section of the translated text in quotes above) ties it neatly to a southeastern tradition of musical entertainment that is attested in Chunqiu-period bell inscriptions from states to the east of Chu. This tradition was no doubt related to the musical rituals imported by the Western Zhou court from the south during the middle Western Zhou period;(42) it is recorded in numerous inscriptions (particularly bells) from that period, combining music with rituals for summoning ancestral spirits to legitimize the ming.(43)
Late Chunqiu-period royal Chu inscriptions reveal affinities with both the southeastern tradition and that of the earlier Western Zhou. Examples include the Wangzi Wu sheng-ding, the Wangsun Gao yong bell, and the Wangsun Yizhe yong bell.(44) These inscriptions do not employ the oral cue, yue ("to speak, say"), commonly found on late Western Zhou and Chunqiu-period examples, and on the Chu Gong Ni bell; however, they do preserve the self-legitimizing style of speech commonly found after the rue cue.(45) The two bell inscriptions, like the Chu Gong Ni bell and southeastern examples,(46) include instructions for the musical entertainment of fuxiong ("fathers and elder brothers") and of either zhushi ("the many collateral Lords") or wo pengyou ("our associates"). The Chu Gong Ni bell inscription would seem, then, to belong to a southern ritual music tradition popular during the Chunqiu period.(47) The phrase zizuo ("on his own initiative") indicates that Chu Gong Ni made the bronze without being "charged" by a higher official (of the Zhou administration). The use of zizuo is generally limited to Eastern Zhou inscriptions(48) and indicates an ideological break from depending on a ritual "charge" received from the Zhou court. If we understand that the Chu elite at the time of this inscription considered itself independent of the Zhou, Chu Gong Ni's title of gong then cannot be read as a Zhou "feudal" rank, but simply as "Lord."
In early Zhou paleographical records, Chu emissaries were referred to as zi ("Child") or bo ("Elder").(49) In the early Eastern Zhou texts, Zuozhuan and the Chunqiu, the Chu rulers are inconsistently referred to as either Chu zi or Chu wang, but never gong.(50) In inscriptions from the Eastern Zhou period the Chu ruler is always referred to as wang. There are, however, many middle Western Zhou or late Chunqiu examples of inscriptions from other areas made by "X-gong," where X is a place- or state-name.(51) While it is impossible to relate most of these gong to historical figures, it is clear that gong was used by the rulers of states, such as Qin, before they proclaimed independence of the Zhou, following which they called themselves wang.(52) This was no doubt also the case for the gong of the tiny states of Ruo and Deng, situated in the upper-middle Han river valley, close to the probable origins of the early Chu state.(53) This evidence lends some fragile support to the traditional inclination to identify Chu Gong Ni as an early Chu ruler. There is only one other example of a Chu gong in the bronze inscriptions, that being the unprovenanced Chu Gong Jia bell and weapon inscriptions. Like the Chu Gong Ni inscription, this group has been traced (by Guo Moruo)(54) to an ancient Chu ruler, viz., Xiong E's son, Xiong Yi. Examination of the Chu Gong Jia inscriptions, however, provides further evidence that the Chu gong were either early Chu kings of the late Western Zhou or early Chunqiu period or simply local Chu lords of the mid- to late-Chunqiu period.
The Chu Gong Jia bell inscription is cast into the zheng (central panel) section of the yong bell and reads as follows:
Chu Gong Jia made on his own initiative a treasured great lin(55) bell. May |his~ progeny forever treasure |it~.
The Chu Gong Jia weapon inscription was incised on the na-section(56) of a Sichuan-style ge-blade. For this reason, many scholars have considered it a fake.(57) Recently, however, the inscription has been accepted as a genuine early Chu inscription, inscribed on a weapon captured from the Sichuan-based Shu-Ba peoples. Both the weapon and the inscription date to the late Western Zhou or early Chunqiu period.(58) The inscription reads: "The blade held(59) by Chu Gong Jia." The earliest contact with Sichuan Ba peoples recorded in the Zuozhuan dates to 703, the early Chunqiu period, but the Shu are not mentioned until the Warring States period. There is little archaeological evidence to suggest sustained contact between Chu and Sichuan, particularly during the Western Zhou period.(60) Other points that suggest a Chunqiu-period date include the use of the Eastern Zhou phrase zizuo and the fact that weapons were not commonly inscribed with the name of the user until the early Warring States period.(61)
Once the Chu Gong Ni inscription is deciphered and placed within a synchronic framework of other inscriptions dating from the late Western Zhou to the late Chunqiu period, reasons for rejecting the inscription as genuine, despite its clumsy appearance, diminish. But who, then, was Chu Gong Ni? If we accept a late Western Zhou date, could he be Xiong E, who, according to the Shiji, reigned just before the end of the Western Zhou period? Xiong E reigned after Xiong Qu, who retracted the title wang (for fear of being attacked by the bellicose Zhou King Li) in the mid-ninth century, but before 640, when Chu Wu Wang reclaimed the title wang permanently. lt is possible, then, that Xiong E would consider himself a gong. There is no information on Xiong E other than that he ruled for nine years. It is not clear where he ruled, although it most likely was in the Han valley region, rather than in the Echeng region, where there is no archaeological evidence of late Western Zhou or early Chunqiu-period Chu occupation.(62) There is no obvious connection to E Wang, the king of E, Zhongzi Hong (also called Xiong Zhihong), the middle son of Xiong Qu, who came to the throne after his father's death. After E Wang's death, his own progeny were possibly killed or forced to flee to Kui. Xiong E, on the other hand, was the son of Xiong Xun, great grandson of E Wang's usurper and younger brother Xiong Yan.(63) While the desire to verify the Shiji account with evidence from an artifact steeped in Chu myth is seductive, the archaeological evidence of the Echeng region and the rhetorical tradition reflected in the inscription itself suggest that a pre-Chunqiu identity is unlikely, despite the tantalizing comparisons to the Late Western Zhou Nangong Hu bell.
If the bell found in the Echeng area did not simply fall from an ancient plunderer's net, and if Chu Gong Ni did have some relation to the Echeng region, then it is more likely that he was a Chunqiu-period Chu family member assigned to manage the region,(64) perhaps the official in charge of the Eastern Zhou city at Daye.(65) His access to nearby mines and perhaps control of those resources for Chu may explain his presumption in casting a bell for himself.
Once the mythology of Chu is removed from the interpretation of the bells and the inscription, the form of the bells becomes less of a mystery and the inscription becomes a slightly odd but nevertheless viable paleographical text. We see that at least one of the bells fits, albeit imperfectly, late Western Zhou or Chunqiu-period yong bell models. The inscription likewise can be considered a local, though perhaps not fully literate, adaptation of the inscriptional rhetoric attested on southern bells during the Chunqiu period.
1 Modern Echeng in southeastern Hubei. The lake was probably Taiping Lake; see n. 3 below.
2 For the layout of the bell parts and their traditional names, see Lothar von Falkenhausen, "Niuzhong Chime-bells of Eastern Zhou China," Arts Asiatiques 44 (1989): 69.
3 The earliest surviving rubbing is probably that of Shi Gongbi whose note ("Zhenghe year 3 |1113 A.D.~, Wuchang, a place near Taiping Lake" has been preserved next to a woodblock print of the inscription "Zhou Chu Gong zhong" in an 1849 copy of Ruan Yuan's 1803 restoration of Zhongding kuanzhi, originally compiled by Wang Houzhi (jinshi 1166) of the Southern Song period (found in Baiyi lu jinshi congshu, part I, vol. 3, printed by Chen Naiqian in Haining, 1921). A description of the find, the bell, and the lament over its loss are recorded by Qin Guan in Huaihai ji, "Diao bozhong wen" (Siku quanshu), 31.2a-4b. The Chuci poem can be found in Soji sakuin, comp. Takeji Sadao (Kyoto: Chubun, 1979), 289-94. Qin Guan did not mention an inscription, but it is likely the bell was heavily corroded and still covered with mud when he saw it, although his descriptions of its use in harmonizing spirits and his allusions to Qu Yuan and to the Chuci line with the "thunderous peal" might be construed as referring to the inscription. Zhao Mingcheng (1081-1129) mentions the find and discusses briefly the strange nature of the inscription and the mystery of Chu Gong's identity in Jinshi lu, "Chu zhongming" (Siku quanshu), 11.6a. Zhao understood the date "Zhenghe year 3" (1113) as the date of the bells' recovery in Ezhou, rather than as the date of Shi Gongbi's rubbing. If Zhao was right then Qin Guan must have been writing about different bells, as he died in 1100. Zhao, in fact, mentions relying on a rubbing obtained by his friends Wang Shou and Qing Luweng. The connection between the Huaihai ji and the Jinshi lu accounts was first noted by Li Ling, "Chu Gong Ni bo," Jiang-Han kaogu 1983.2: 94. These descriptions have been further discussed in Li Ling, "Zaitan Chu Gong zhong," Jiang-Han kaogu 1986.3: 90-91, and in Gao Zhixi, "Lun Shang-Zhou tongbo," Hunan kaogu jikan 3 (1986): 214, 109. 4 Rong Qi's commentary appears in the Zhongding kuanzhi, 13a. A friend of his stationed in the Huaidong region noted that the two bells had been written about by Qin Huizhi (Qin Kuai, 1090-1155, an official from Jiangning, stationed in the Jiangnan region). It is unclear whether this is a mistake for Qin Guan or perhaps an indication that the bells were also documented by Qin Kuai, possibly a relative of Qin Guan (who helped rescue the bells from oblivion?). I suspect that Rong Qi never saw the bells himself, but is simply quoting Qin Kuai.
5 The relationship of these songs to Chu culture is discussed by David Hawkes, Ch'u Tz'u: Songs of the South (New York: Penguin Books, 1985).
6 Shanhaijing jianshu, ed. Hao Yixing (Taipei: Yiwen, 1974), 373. Wu, in the Anhui-Jiangsu region, was occupied by Chu in the late Warring States period. Yuan Ke suggests that Thunder Swamp may have referred to Tai Hu, a lake straddling Jiangsu and Zhejiang (Zhongguo shenhua chuanmshuo cidian, comp. Yuan Ke et al. |Shanghai: Shanghai ceshu, 1985~, 403). Yuan suggests that Huangdi was a thunder spirit and notes that one of Huangdi's ministers was a Xiong Shi (Xiong is a Chu surname found in the received textual tradition but not in the Chu bronze inscriptions), who could command Lei Gong. Late illustrations of the Thunder Spirit show a bird face on a dragon body, but the bird face seems to be a Tang addition (Yuan, 402-3). A 520 A.D. picture of Lei Gong found on a brick from a Wuchang tomb shows Lei Gong as a naked man striking a ring of drums that surrounds him. But a Western Wei picture preserved in cave 249 at Dunhuang shows him already transformed into a dragon (see the discussion and illustrations in Yang Hong, "Lei Gong nuyin liangu bian," Zhongguo wenwubao, 1 December 1991: 3). For a Song description of worship at a Lei Gong Temple, see Taiping guangji (rpt., Beijing: Zhonghua, 1986), 34.3149. 7 See Soji sakuin, 267-88 and Hawkes, 193-99. The entire image, including the Thunder God, was borrowed from the "Li Sao." The poet (or rather, his persona) encountered the primal Chu ancestor, Zhu Rong; see n. 27 for his relationship to one reading of this bell inscription.
8 It is an interesting coincidence that beginning in 1116 a southern sect of Taoism, the Shenxiao, based on the use of thunder rites to cure illness, was popular with the Song emperor. See Michel Strickmann, "Sodai no raigi: Shinsho undo to Doka nanshu ni tsuite no ryakusetsu," Toho shukyo 46 (1975): 15-28.
9 See Li Ling (1983 and 1986) and Gao Zhixi (1986).
10 Lothar von Falkenhausen, "Ritual Music in Bronze Age China: An Archaeological Perspective" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard Univ., 1988), 316-20, 471-72. He notes that they originated in the Xiang River valley of Hunan, but were imported into the Zhou metropolitan region in central Shaanxi during the middle Western Zhou period and reduplicated into bell sets for ritual purposes. Single bells were common to the South.
11 "Yeyulei gong zhongba," Guantang jilin 18 (1927; rpt., Beijing: Zhonghua, 1984), 890.
12 Mengyi caotang jijintu, shang 2, see Li Ling's discussion (1983 and 1986).
13 A frontal view of the horned figure sitting on top of the loop can be found in Shaanxi chutu Shang Zhou qingtongqi (Beijing: Wenwu, 1980), vol. 3, illus. 140. For a discussion of the bell, see Falkenhausen (1988), 369-71. It is believed to be part of a set, but the site of its manufacture--or whether it has anything to do with the South--is unknown.
14 See Falkenhausen, "Chu Ritual Music," in New Perspectives on Chu Culture during the Eastern Zhou Period, ed. Thomas Lawton (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1991), 63, 64, 68, 74. Some Western Zhou period bo from Shaanxi have elaborate flanges of intertwined dragons combined with the suspension device, but not in as clear a sculptural manner as in late Chunqiu examples. See Jessica Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. IIA (Washington, D.C.: Sackler Foundation and Harvard Univ., 1990), 757; and Falkenhausen (1988), 485-88, 493-97).
15 See Shuowen jiezi gulin, comp. Ding Fubao (rpt., Taibei: Dingwen, 1978), 11B.805.
16 See Falkenhausen (1989), 81. An anonymous reader of this manuscript has made the compelling suggestion that the "five colors" may have referred to the bell's patina.
17 See n. 3 above. Wang Houzhi received his jinshi degree in 1166 and was sent to the Huainan region. Since the original version of this catalogue was destroyed in a fire (according to Li Ling |1986~), Ruan Yuan had a woodcut copy made in 1802 (and again in 1848), based on the original thirty pages of Song ta "rubbings" which included fifty-nine vessels and fifteen fragments originally in the mid-twelfth century collection of Bi Liangshi. Ruan notes in his foreword that another Chu Gong Ye Yu Lei bell rubbing appeared on the last page of Zhongding kuanzhi. The Hubei jinshizhi copy is based on Ruan's original 1802 copy (see Liu Xianmei, "Hubei jinshizhi Zhou Chu zhongqi mingwen shikao," Jiang-Han kaogu 1991.3: 67-68). A slightly variant Song copy is preserved in Lidai zhongding yiqi kuanzhi by Xue Shanggong of the Southern Song period, first published in 1144 (Liaoning: Liaoshen, 1985), 103-4. Guo Moruo has both copies of the Song woodcut version reprinted from the Zhongding kuanzhi. They are almost identical. See his Liang-Zhou jinwenci daxi (1935; rpt., Beijing: Kexue, 1957).
18 Gao Zhixi (1986).
19 For example, the four Ni yong bells, found in Shaanxi; see Cao Fazhan and Chen Guoying, "Xianyang diqu chutu Xi Zhou qingtongqi," Kaogu yu wenwu 1981.1: 9-11. For other examples, see Yin Zhou jinwen jicheng, vol. 1, comp. Zhongguo shehui kexueyan kaogu yanjiu (Shanghai: Zhonghua, 1984; hereafter Jicheng). For a description of the northern and southern manufacturing traditions of yong bells, see Falkenhausen (1988), 316-429. Falkenhausen has attempted to categorize the layout of inscriptions on bells in his table 12, pp. 1323-25. Bells with inscriptions only on the zheng section (layout A.a.) are limited to northern bells in the Western Zhou and include (but are not limited to) many Chu bells of the Eastern Zhou period. There does not seem to be a distinct regional pattern evident for the Eastern Zhou.
20 According to Liu Binhui, there were originally five bells; see his "Chuguo youming tongqi biannian gaishu," Guwenzi yanjiu 9 (1984): 331. Li Ling has studied the many rubbings of these bells and discussed which are fake. He also noted that three of the genuine bells are now in Japan; see his "Chuguo tongqi mingwen biannian huishi," Guwenzi yanjiu 13 (1986): 356-57. Liu divided the bells into two groups, those with cloud and luan-bird patterns and those with dragon and thunder patterns. Falkenhausen (1991), 58, discusses the authenticity and musical qualities of these bells and suggests that they may have been of northern manufacture.
21 For discussions of the Chu Wang bell, see Li Ling (1986), 361, and Falkenhausen (1991), 53-54. Falkenhausen notes that the bell has no southern stylistic attributes. He dates it to the period of Chu Gong Wang (r. 590-560 B.C.E.). A Song handcopy of the inscription can be found in Jicheng, 72.
22 Sun's arguments from the Gu Zhou shiyi are quoted in Li Ling (1983), 94. Sun deciphered the name and has convincingly argued that the name E *ngak (Bernhard Karlgren, Grammata Serica Recensa |rpt., Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1964; hereafter GSR~, 788g.) was also written as (GSR, 788f.; see Jinwen gulin, ed. Chou Fa-kao et al. |Hong Kong: Chinese University, 1974; hereafter JWGL~), 2.0184). This interpretation was followed by Wang Guowei (1984), 890, and Guo Moruo (1957), 164; both are quoted in Zhang Yachu, "Lun Chu Gong Jia zhong he Chu Gong Ni bo de niandai," Jiang-Han kaogu 1984.4: 95-96. The identification of the graph as ni *ngiak (GSR, 788k) is correct; see JWGL, 2.0184. It occurs as a name in the inscriptions of late Western Zhou bells from Yongshouxian, Shaanxi (see n. 19 above).
23 Shiki kaichu kosho, ed. Takigawa Kametaro (rpt., Taibei: Hongshu, 1977), 40.645-45.
24 The migration of Chu into the Echeng area, the problem of distinguishing between Chu or Yue cultural artifacts, and the importance of the nearby mine site of Tonglushan are discussed by Li Tianyuan, "Chu de dongjin yu Edong gutongkuang de kaifa," Jiang-Han kaogu 1988.2: 109-14, 71. Li believes that access to the mine during the Chunqiu period may have had a great deal to do with the rise of the Chu state. He Hao supports the idea that the late Western Zhou site of E was in Echeng, as he feels that the Chu first came down the Han river to the south before expanding north and northeast. For a detailed analysis of Chu's expansion from the northwest to the southeast, see He Hao, Chu mieguo yanjiu (Hubei: Wuhan, 1989), 54-73; for his discussion of E, see p. 24. For arguments against this identification, see n. 65.
25 My transcription is generally based on that of Li Ling (1986), 354, and discussions with Dr. Serruys. The hand-drawn version is by Xue Shanggong, Lidai zhongding yiqi kuanzhi, of 1144. For discussion of the woodcut copy, I follow the Zhongding kuanzhi version, which is reprinted in Guo Moruo, 177 (illustrated as "B" in this article).
26 Based on my examination of over 900 inscriptions (in Shang-Zhou qingtongqi mingwenxuan, 4 vols., ed. Ma Chengyuan |Beijing: Wenwu, 1986-90; hereafter SZQTQ~, dates with Jia-shen days occur only in early and middle Western Zhou inscriptions. Jia-wu days occur on inscriptions of the middle and late Western Zhou periods. In Xue's hand-copy the date appears rather to be Jia-wu. The graph for shen is usually written ??? (JWGL, 14.1879) and the graph for wu is ??? (JWGL, 14.1877). As the woodcut generally seems to be the more reliable text, I defer to Li Ling's reading of Jia-shen.
27 The graphs ??? (on the woodcut version B) and ??? (on Xue's handwritten version) have been variously interpreted. Ding Shan read it as Wu Lei, an alternative for Wu Hui (another name for Zhu Rong), the mythical founding ancestor of the Chu; see Shirakawa Shizuka, Kimbun tsushaku (Tokyo: Hakutsuru Bijutsukanshi, 1978; hereafter KBTS), 4.527-29; and Liu Binhui (1984), 335. Xue transcribed "night rain and thunder." Xue's transcription is in fact closest but he failed to recognize, as Shirakawa pointed out, that the graphs ??? were most likely read as one graph lei "thunder" (KBTS, 4.528). The graph ??? cannot be Wu, written ??? (JWGL, 10.1348) but must either be ye ("night"), written ??? (JWGL, 7.0916) as understood by the Song scholars, or ji ("sudden"), written ??? (JWGL, 7.1029). Bell epithets usually describe the sound of the bell. Most commonly, bells are he "harmonious" (Falkenhausen |1988~, 1332-34). It therefore makes sense to understand this bell's epithet as also describing its sound. There is no other bronze text with the expression "night thunder" or "sudden-thunder." "Night" was used in time-phrases, such as suye ("from dawn to dusk") to describe the length of time devoted to ritual activities. "Sudden" was used to describe the awesome nature of Heaven (e.g., the Mao Gong ding, in SZQTQ, 4-47). The term jilei "sudden thunder" is explained in Erya, "Shitian" as ting. SWGL, 11B.750a, defines "ting" as the residual sounds of thunder. It was ting that awakened the "spirit vapor" (shenqi) in the earth, giving rise to life (see Liji). By the late Warring States and Han periods, jilei was understood not as a rumbling but as a sudden clap of thunder, capable of splitting mountains (Zhuangzi, "Qiwu lun" |Harvard-Yenching index, 6/2/72~) or stone (Huainanzi, "Shuolin xun" |Sibu beiyao~, 17.11a). It could be heard over a hundred li, like a supernatural force; see Mei Sheng, "Qifa", trans. as The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady, ed. Hans H. Frankel, (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1976), 198. A. C. Graham translated Zhaungzi's use of jilei as "swift thunderbolts"; see his Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters (London: Unwin, 1981), 58. I understand a thunderbolt to be inherently swift and loud (in contrast to slow and "rumbling" thunder) and therefore simply translate jilei as "thunderbolt" to describe the bell sound.
28 Li Ling understands the graph ??? (fu; handcopy ???) was a loan for bo (normally written ???). The graphs *biwo (GSR, 102a) and *piwo (GSR, 102n) belong to the same phonetic series. Neither Li Ling nor Gao Zhixi addresses the contradiction of a yong bell being called a bo. If the bell really is a bo, then it must belong to the late Chunqiu period. See Falkenhausen (1988), 190-92, on use of the name bo.
29 I follow Li Ling and read the graphs on the woodcut version ??? (version A has ???; Xue copied ???) as jue ming yue "its inscription says." Dialogue cues in the Western Zhou inscriptions were usually limited to wang yue "the King says"; wang ruo yue "the King thusly says"; or simply yue. In the last case, the subject of the yue was assumed to be the king or, in the late Western Zhou period, possibly a local lord. The speech consisted of the charge (ming) of the inscription, implying here that the function of ming "inscribing" was to record the ruler's judgment or command. The exact phrase jue ming yue is also found on an early Chunqiu period Qin inscription, the Qin Gong zhong (SZQTQ, 919, traditionally dated to the reign of Qin Wu Wang |r. 697-678 B.C.~). Other Eastern Zhou examples with similar uses of the word ming "inscribe" are also from the northern region of ancient China. These include the Piao Qiang zhong from Jin (Chunqiu period, SZQTQ, 889) and the Zhongshan Wang Cuo ding (circa. 308, SZQTQ, 607), both with the phrase yu ming "on the inscription" (the Zhongshan example follows with a yue and a warning to a Zhongshan minister of immoral conduct by a neighboring minister; the Jin example follows with praise for the actions of ancestors and an admonition to behave well on the part of the vessel-maker). The phrase zi ming yue is found in the Nangong Hu zhong inscription and where it has been read as "Its name is wuyi 'Untiring Bell'" (SZQTQ, 446). Examination of the rubbing shows, however, that the reverse direction of the graph zhong "bell" indicates that we should read the line as: "this bell's inscription says." The wuyi, then, is not the name of a bell but an epithet describing the ancestor whose name follows (cf. the Mao Gong ding, SZQTQ, 447, and the Shi Qiang pan. SZQTQ, 153. where wuyi describes the untiring or endless nature of Heaven's brilliance; cf. also many Shijing examples, such as Mao, 240 and 266.) For a discussion of the yi and wuyi, see Dai Jiaxiang, "X-zi shuo," Guoli Zhongshan Daxue yuyan lishixue yanjiusuo zhoukan 11 (1930), nos. 125-28; 4918-21.
30 This line is written ??? on the woodcut and ??? in the hand-drawn version. The graph ??? is a mystery. Given the similarity of the previous line to that in the Nangong Hu zhong, one is tempted to assume that it is yi (usually written ???, JWGL, 5.0703). The element ??? was written ??? (JWGL, 8.1123). But this simple solution causes difficulty when put in the context of the following graphs.
I take the graphs ??? to be le fuxiong zhushi "to entertain |with music~ the father(s), older brother(s), and the many lords." I understand "the many lords" to be those male relatives outside of the main lineage; see Cho-yun Hsu, Ancient China in Transition (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1965), 7-8. Le was usually written ??? (JWGL, 6.0768). On this bell, the bai element has been written bai (???, see JWGL, 4.0478), an unusual but phonetically possible substitution. Fu (partially obscured, usually written ???) and xiong (variously written ??? JWGL, 8.1164) have been combined into one graph ???. The first graph on line four is partially obscured. Zhu was usually written ??? (JWGL, 4.0476). The graph ??? most likely stands for shi (usually written ??? JWGL, 3.0378), probably a loan for shi. Similar phrases are found on inscriptions from Chunqiu-period vessels, particularly of the southeastern region. Examples include those from Xu: The Zi Zhang zhong (SZQTQ, 611; KBTS, 4.578) has yong le fuxiong zhushi; from Xu the Yun'er zhong (SZQTQ, 573) yi le jiabin, ji wo fuxiong shushi "|use it~ in order to entertain |with music~ the celebrated guests up to |and including~ our father(s), older brother(s), and many collateral lords; the X-er zhong (SZQTQ, 572); the Xu Wangzi Tong zhong (SZQTQ, 568); from Wu: the Peier goudiao (SZQTQ, 545); from Yue: the Gu Feng goudiao (SZQTQ, 563). Each example begins with either yong "use |the vessel or opportunity to~" or yi "in order to."
One is forced to view the initial graph of this difficult sentence as functioning as a yong or yi and not as a bell name. Serruys notes that it would be possible to read yi *diag as a Chu dialect word corresponding to yi *diag (as reconstructed by Dong Tonghe |Shanggu yinyun biaogao, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, monograph A series, no. 21 (1948; rpt., Taibei: Academia Sinica, 1967), 125, 159~), if we take into consideration the rare contact between -ag and eg endings. See Dong Tonghe's reconstruction of yi and ye *diag as belonging to the same phonetic series (ibid.; ??? is the phonetic in ??? written ???, and ??? written ???, GSR, 976). For an extensive discussion of the Han and pre-Han use of the graph ??? for words in the phonetic series yi, see Wu Zhenwu, "Yan majie bukao", paper presented at the International Conference on Ancient Script, Jilin, China, Nov. 1990 (see also Dai Jiaxiang, n. 29 above).
31 The graph ??? (??? on the handcopy) is difficult to interpret. It does not fit with the previous phrase and does not look much like gong, as written in the first line ???, unless we accept that the woodcutter was not educated in ancient script and the original was itself obscure. This reading is supported by a note of Takada Chushu in a commentary on the graph qu "the bronze character gong was written ???" (JWGL, 5.0659). Usually only the person's name and not title is mentioned before the final blessing in inscriptions. Either this case is an odd exception or Gong Ni must be understood as a name and gong not as a rank at all (cf. double surnames Gong-x in the Zuozhuan, e.g., Gongmi, a Jin official active in the mid-sixth century).
32 I understand the word qi not as a pronoun but as an archaic expression of probability. See Serruys, "Notes on the Grammar of the Oracular Inscriptions of Shang," in Contributions to Sino-Tibetan Studies, ed. John McCoy and Timothy Light (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 104.
33 The first three graphs of line four on the woodcut are written: ??? (version A ???; Xue). I suspect there is another graph, possibly a yong, yi, or yong, obscured at the beginning of the line. The graph ??? |???~ was most likely bao "protect" usually written ??? (JWGL, 8.1060); the graph ??? |???~ most likely represented a pronoun such as jue usually written ??? (JWGL, 12.1598), qi usually written ??? (JWGL, 5.0585), or yi usually written ??? (JWGL, 8.1084); and the graph ??? was most likely shen "body, self" (??? JWGL, 8.1123). Similar phrases occur in bronzes of Chunqiu-period eastern and southern inscriptions: the Ji Gong hu (KBTS, 4.450; SZQTQ, 871): yong bao qi shen "forever protect his body"; the Xu Wang Yichu duan (KBTS, 4.573-74; SZQTQ, 569): yong bao yi shen "forever protect my body"; and the Chu bronze, the Zhongzi Hua pan (KBTS, 4.549; SZQTQ, 658): yong bao Chu wang "use |it~ to protect the Chu King." A similar phrase is also found on the late Western Zhou Shi Cai ding (KBTS, 5.242; SZQTQ, 202): yong bao wang shen "use |it~ to protect the King's body." 34 See n. 27 above.
35 See the Xiang interpretation of the Zhen trigram in hexagrams 17, 25, 51, and 54.
36 Liji Zheng zhu (Taipei: Xinxing, 1976), 58-69.
37 James Legge, trans., Li chi (rpt., New York: University Books, 1967), 260.
38 Zhao 32; the Zhen trigram was read as lei "thunder."
39 Zhao 4.
40 It is not inconceivable that these bells were in fact Han-period forgeries, made to reconfirm the religious beliefs popularly associated with Chu during Emperor Wu's reign (and later). Unfortunately, not enough is known of Han metallurgical practices, much less whether scribes then would have had access to Chunqiu-period bronze texts (as this one obviously did), to explore the possibility at this time.
41 See notes 13 and 29 above.
42 Falkenhausen (1989), 68.
43 See Constance A. Cook, "Auspicious Metals and Southern Spirits: An Analysis of the Chu Bronze Inscriptions" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1990), 213-59.
44 The Wangzi Wu and Wangsun Gao bronzes are both from tombs in Xiasi, Xichuan, in southwestern Henan (Wenwu 1980.10: 13-20). The Wangsun Yizhe bell was discovered in 1884 in the central Han river valley (in Hubei) and was--until the Xiasi finds--believed to be a Xu bell; see Sun Qikang, "Chuqi 'Wangsun yizhe zhong' kao-bian," Jiang-Han kaogu 1983.4:41-46.
45 See Cook (1990), 212-59.
46 See n. 30 above.
47 For a complete discussion of the southern musical tradition, see Falkenhausen (1991).
48 Western Zhou exceptions are rare but occur possibly as early as the middle Western Zhou period; see the Yu Bo ying (SZQTQ, 360), the Peng Bo qui-lid (SZQTQ, 375), and the Jun Hou zhong (SZQTQ, 383), all short inscriptions of manufacture. In the late Western Zhou period, Zeng inscriptions, from north-central Hubei and south-central Henan, use zizuo (SZQTQ, 469-76).
49 For the bone inscriptions from Zhouyuan, see bone numbers H11:4, H11:14, and H11:83 in Wang Yuxin, Xi-Zhou jiagu tanfun (Beijing: The Chinese Academy of Social Science, 1984), p. 286, no. 46; p. 290, no. 28; p. 296, no. 47. The tenth-century Ling gui inscription records the attack upon a Chu bo (KBTS, 1.255; SZQTQ, 94). For translation of the titles, see Selected Works of Peter A. Boodberg, comp. A. Cohen (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California, 1979), 215-18.
50 In the Han-period Shiji and in the late Warring States Guoyu, Chu rulers were referred to by the title wang.
51 Examples from the Western Zhou period include: Ying Gong (SZQTQ, 146), Yi Gong (SZQTQ, 205), Deng Gong (SZQTQ, 336), Mao Gong (SZQTQ, 363, 447), Rui Gong (SZQTQ, 509-13), and Su Gong (SZQTQ, 517). Examples from the Eastern Zhou period include gong from the eastern and east-central states of Song (SZQTQ, 789-93, 796), Zhu (SZQTQ, 826-28, 832), Zhu (SZQTQ, 835), and Ji (SZQTQ, 871); the north and northwestern states of Jin (SZQTQ, 887, 895), Wei (SZQTQ, 896), Rui (SZQTQ, 907), and Qin (SZQTQ, 917-20); and the west-central states of Ruo (SZQTQ, 637-41) and Deng (SZQTQ, 771-72). Notably missing are examples from states along the eastern coast, such as Qi in the north or Wu and Yue in the south.
52 For Qin gong inscriptions, see SZQTQ, 917-20. See Gilbert L. Mattos' discussion of these inscriptions in "Bronze Inscriptions of the Eastern Zhou," to be published in Paleographical Sources of Early Chinese History, ed. Edward Shaughnessy.
53 There is a middle Western Zhou period Deng gong inscription (SZQTQ, 336). For the Chunqiu-period inscriptions with Deng gong, see SZQTQ, 771-72, and with Ruo gong, SZQTQ, 637-41. For a discussion on the location of Danyang, Chu's first capital, see Barry Blakeley, "In Search of Danyang, 1: Historical Geography and Archeological Sites," Early China 13 (1988): 116-52.
54 The graph ??? was read by Guo Moro as wei and as a loan for yi (KBTS, 4.530). Zhu Dexi, Qiu Xigui, and Li Jiahao all transcribe it as ??? but read it as zhi, based on the fact that zhi was sometimes written as ??? in the Warring States-period bamboo strips discovered in Tianxingguan tomb 1. They then accept zhi has a homophone for zhi, the name of a Chu King, Xiong Zhihong (their arguments are presented in Liu Binhui |1984~, 357). The graph ??? (???) appears in the Warring States Chu silk manuscript, but is read as jia "to marry"; see Li Ling, Changsha Zidanku Zhanguo Chu boshu yanjiu (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1985), 112. The graph ??? on the Nangong Hu zhong is read jia (SZQTQ, 446). 55 The graph lin is written a variety of ways in Western Zhou bronze inscriptions (see JWGL, 6.0789) and composed of "a group of characters containing two or more components of roughly the same phonetic value" (Falkenhausen |1988~, 622): lin (or simply ???) Li *bljemx and lin Li *gljem. Liu Binhui (1984), 334, follows the Guangya, "Shi Gu" reading of lin as zhong "numerous." He claims that this refers to the fact that the bells are a set of graduated bells. Li Ling noted that lin was also the eighth note or lu on a twelve-note scale (Guwenzi yanjiu, 357). Falkenhausen translates lin as "harmonically-tuned" (1991), 94.
The word lin is replaced by the word tang (written ???) on the group two bells. The Guangya, "Shi Qi," explains: "as for red bronze, it is called tang" (see Li Ling's discussion in Guwenzi yanjiu).
56 The na-section is the piece of the blade that fits into a wooden handle.
57 See the descriptions of the controversy by Liu (1984), 334-35, who dates the inscription to the late Western Zhou and Li, Guwenzi yanjiu, 358, who dates it to the early Chunqiu. In particular see the arguments of Gao Zhixi, "'Chu Gong Jia' ge." Wenwu 1959.12: 60; Yu Xingwu and Yao Xiaosui, "'Chu Gong Jia ge' bianwei," Wenwu 1960.3: 85; and Shang Chengzuo, "'Chu Gong Jia ge' zhenwei de wojian," Wenwu 1962.6: 19-20. The dagger was found at a recycling center in Changsha, Hunan (Wenwu 1959.12: 60). A good photo of the dagger is in Li Xueqin ed., Qingtongqi (shang), Gongyi meishu-bian 4, Zhongguo meishu quanji (Beijing: Wenwu, 1985), illus. 239. Li notes that the inscription is similar in style to a Zeng Hou dagger found in Zaoyang, Hubei.
58 Li Xueqin, "Zeng Hou ge xiaokao," Jiang-Han kaogu 4 (1984): 65-66.
59 The word bing was used as a verb during the Western Zhou period to mean "to hold on to, to handle, to grasp." In inscriptions it is often found in the expression mumu bing mingde "gravely, so gravely, hold on to the illuminated power |of the ancestor's mandate~"; see the Guo Shu Lu zhong (SZQTQ, 427), the Jing Ren Ning zhong (SZQTQ, 396; see KBTS, 3.996 for the reading of ??? as ???), of the late Western Zhou period, and the Qin Gong gui (SZQTQ, 920) of the early Chunqiu period. The archaic reading of bing (*piang) was homophonous with bing "weapon, militia." The expression bingtong ("bronze of weapons |captured in battle~") occurs in late Warring States inscriptions on Chu vessels from Shouxian, Anhui. Perhaps a pun was intended. The weapon of Gong jia was not only captured by military prowess, but it also showed off his power. 60 For a full discussion of Chu interaction with the Shu-Ba peoples, see Heather Peters, "The Role of the State of Chu in Eastern Zhou Period China: A Study of Interaction and Exchange in the South" (Ph.D. diss., Yale Univ., 1983), 317-36.
61 Shang-period weapons were sometimes inscribed with ancestor's names or clan names. For Eastern Zhou examples, see SZQTQ, vol. 2. The earliest excavated Chu example dates no earlier than the late Chunqiu period (Chen Wei, "Xichuan Xiasi erhao Chumu muzhu ji xiangguan wenti," Jiang-Han kaogu 1983.1: 32-33, 38; for the dagger, see Wenwu 1980.10: 20).
62 See n. 24 and n. 65.
63 See Shiji, 40.645-46.
64 Abe Michiko, "Shunju koki no So no 'ko' ni tsuite--Sengoku hokun shutsugen e mukete no ichishiron," Toyoshi kenkyu 54 (1986): 187-211. See also C. N. Tay, "Interpretation of Kung (Duke?)," Journal of the American Oriental Society 93 (1973): 550-51; for gong used simply as a term of respect for deceased elders, see p. 553.
65 The small walled city is called E Wang Cheng, following the Shiji account of E Wang. Over a hundred middle- and small-sized tombs have been discovered in the region. Unfortunately, archaeologists were unable to find anything particularly diagnostic of Chu at the site (Dayexian Museum, "Ewangcheng yizhi diaocha jianbao," Jiang-Han kaogu 1983.3: 23-28). Chen Wei has argued persuasively against tradition, stating that the ancient area of E was not in the present Echeng area but farther north around Nanyang, in southern Henan (see his "Ejun qijie zhi 'E' di tantao," Jiang-Han kaogu 1986.2: 88-92; cf. Yin Chonghao, "Chudu E bu," Jiang-Han kaogu 1984.1:90-95). One problem with Chen's argument, which is based on Warring States-period evidence, is that the Western Zhou-period state of E was associated with the Nan Huaiyi peoples (residing southeast of the Zhou state along the Huai River). The late Western Zhou Li Wang period Yu ding (found in Shaanxi in 1942, SZQTQ 407) inscription describes how an E Hou and his family were wiped out for leading the Nan Huaiyi and Dong Yi in rebellion against the Zhou. For details on Zhou campaigns against these peoples, see Edward Shaughnessy (Xia Hanyi), "Cong Jufu xugai mingwen tan Zhou wangchao yu Nan Huaiyi de guanxi," Hanxue yanjiu 2 (Dec. 1987): 567-74). Dr. Barry Blakeley, of Seton Hall University, has suggested to me that there may have been several E at different times and that the issue is far from resolved (personal communication. Oct. 1991).
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|Author:||Cook, Constance A.|
|Publication:||The Journal of the American Oriental Society|
|Date:||Oct 1, 1993|
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