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(Qinding) Wuyingdian juzhenban chengshi (欽定)武英殿聚珍版程式 "(Imperially endorsed) Formulas for prints with moveable types from the Hall of Military Glory" is a short handbook on printing with moveable types (huozi 活字) compiled on official order by Jin Jian 金簡 in 1776. Jin Jian (died 1794) was a bondservant in the Plain Yellow Banner 正黃旗 of the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911) and was granted the surname of Jinjia 金佳. He rose to the post of ministerial secretary (zhushi 主事) in the Imperial Household Department (neiwufu 内務府) and was appointed Grand Minister (dachen 大臣) in 1772. A year later he took over the supervision of the imperial printing shop in the Wuying Hall as Editorial Grand Minister (zongcai dachen 總裁大臣) of the large project of the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書. In 1774 he was made vice minister (shilang 侍郎) of Revenue and concurrent vice commander-in-chief (fudutong 副都統) of the Bordered Yellow Banner, decorated with a peacock feather. From 1781 on he served as Minister of Works (gongbu shangshu 工部尚書). He supervised the revision of the personal and geographical names in the official dynastic histories Liaoshi 遼史, Jinshi 金史 and Yuanshi 元史. Jin Jian ended his career as Minister of Personnel (libu shangshu 吏部尚書).
As a supervisor of the imperial printing shop Jin Jian decided that a more systematic style of working had to be adhered to in order to make printing faster and less expensive. He submitted a memorial to the throne with suggestions for a more effective organisation of the printing shop. His main argument was that standardization would considerably lower cost and at the same time make sure a stable quality and print layout. Additionally, standardized characters (made of the wood of jujube trees) and faces would save a lot of time for the production of characters and tools for page spread. The Qianlong Emperor 乾隆 (r. 1735-1795) accepted his suggestions and order Jin Jian to supervise the production of a handbook for the standardization in the imperial printing shop. Jin Jian also took care for the manufactuting of 250,000 moveable characters and standardized printing plates. The books created on the base of these new standards were called Wuyingdian juzen ban 武英殿聚珍版 "excellent prints from the Hall of Military Glory". The word junzhenban 聚珍版 so became a synonym for high quality moveable letter prints (huoziban 活字版).
The book fixing the standards has been compiled with the objective to provide a pattern for printing with moveable types that could be imitated in the future by all other printing institutes. The book therefore consists of three parts. The first part includes all memorials to the throne concerning the printing of books with moveable types from the years 1773 to 1776. The most important of these memorials were written by Jin Jian himself and Prince Yongrong 永瑢. They discuss the origin of book printing with moveable types, its process, the cost and materials, as well as the achievements of printing. The second part first describes the method of printing with moveable types and the production of the necessary instruments. It is divided into 15 short chapters that are partially illustrated. The last chapter is a kind of working schedule that enables a quick and effective printing process.
The Juzhenban chengshi demonstrates that printing with moveable letters of wood had achieved considerable results in the 18th century. It was not only a cheap method of printing but could also deliver excellent results that were better than types of lead or ceramics. The printing and wide spread of the book contributed to better results in all printing shops throughout the empire.
The Juzhenban chengshi is included in the collectanea Lizhizhai congshu 勵志齋叢書, Wuyingdian juzhenban shu 武英殿聚珍版書 and Meishu congshu 美術叢書.
Source: Shi Zhengkang 施正康 (1994), "Wuyingdian juzhenban chengshi 武英殿聚珍版程式", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城 (ed.), Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Jingji 經濟 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), p. 411.
June 10, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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