A rubbing of a Northern Qi stele with inscriptions from the seal carver and collector Li Yinsang (1882–1945) saying that the rubbing had previously been in the collection of Li Mengxing (1875–1908). There is also a colophon from Feng Kanghou (1901–1983) saying that he viewed this rubbing at Li Yanshan’s studio in the summer of 1942 and a seal of Li Yansang and his wife and two sons.
The inscription to the upper right, 北齊劉春元造像, 天保六年九月三日 with the seals 鉥齋（白文 and 斯翁之後（朱文), read as “[Buddhist] statue commissioned by Liu Chunyun of the Northern Qi (550–577 CE), on the third day of the ninth month of the sixth year of the reign of tianbao (corresponding to 555 CE)” with two seals of the inscriber, the upper seal read as Si Weng Zhihou (After this Old Man) and the lower Shu Zhai (Shu Studio). There follows another inscription 此為南海李㝱惺應庚舊藏, 今歸杜仲文, 四兄大人命題, 癸亥歲莫尹桒記 with the seal 尹桒（白文) read as “This [rubbing] was previously in the collection of Li Mengxing from Nanhai. Now it belongs to Du Zhongwen. Inscription requested by [my] fourth [elder] brother (Li Shihang 李師沆, 1878–?)". Inscribed by Yinsang at the end of the year of guihai (corresponding to 1923) with a seal of the inscriber Yinsang.
Beneath the base of the sculpture is another inscription transcribing the inscription on the stele by Li Yinsang,
敬像主劉春元，妻唐氏繡姬，男儀耒，女三姐四姐 read as “[On] the third day of the ninth month of the sixth year (yihai, corresponding to 555 CE) of the reign of tianbao, the great Qi dynasty, Buddhist disciple Liu Chunyuan commissioned the construction of a stone statue with respect for [his] three generations of parents (referring to the past, current and future parents in Buddhist belief). Wish those who passed away could be raised to the Western Paradise, and those who are alive to head together towards the right path. [My] whole family makes offerings [to the Bodhisattva] heart and soul to attain samyaksambodhi (the highest perfect awakening), [and we will thus] enjoy the felicity of a pleasant and carefree life. Liu Chunyuan, commissioner of the respectful statue; [Liu’s] wife Madame Tang Xiuji; [Liu’s] son Yilei; [Liu’s] daughters, Sanjie and Sijie”.
Followed by 文中願作顛，刻匠之誤。現作見，供作共，則省文也 with the seal 李尹桒（朱文）read as “In the text, the character yuan (wish) is mistaken by the engraver as dian (top). [As for the characters of] xian (present), which is written as jian (see), and gong (offer), which is written as gong (together), however, [the engraver intentionally] reduced the strokes [of the original characters]". With one seal of the inscriber, Li Yinsang.
To the left of the lotus pedestal is another inscription 壬午夏月順德梁伯壎禺山馮康矦同觀於李氏佇晴閣 read as "Liang Boxun from Shunde and Feng Kanghou (1901–1983) from Yushan viewed [this rubbing] at Mr. Li Yanshan’s Zhuqing Ge (Pavilion of Longing for Clarity) in the summer of the year of renwu (corresponding to 1942)".
Closer to the lotus pedestal is a vertical seal 佛弟子李尹桒妻鄒芬息步昌步樂一心供養 read as “Buddhist disciple Li Yinsang, my wife Zou Fenxi and [my two sons] Buchang and Bule make offerings [to the Bodhisattva] wholeheartedly”.
Li Yinsang 李尹桒 or 李尹桑 (1880 / 1882–1945) was born in county Wu, the city of Suzhou, Jiangsu province. He was the seventh son in his family. As a child he moved to Panyu, Guangdong province, where he later worked as a seal carver, calligrapher and painter. His father was a collector and his two sons Li Buchang (see below) and Li Bule were also seal carvers. His sobriquets include Mingke 茗柯 or 榠柯 or 酩柯, Hufu 壺父, Shuzhai 鉥齋, Qinzhai 秦齋, Xizhai 璽齋, Ruoxu 若虛, Zhuhua 朱華 and Gongzhituo 公之佗. He moved in social circles with the artists Huang Binhong (1865–1955) and the Cantonese artists Yi Dachang (1874–1941) and Deng Erya (1884–1954). He learned art from Huang Shiling (1849–1908) and Tan Yankai (1880–1930).
Li Mengxing李㝱惺 or 李夢惺 (active 1875–1908) who was active in the city of Nanhai 南海 in Guangdong province, was born in Panyu 番禺, some say Xiangshan 香山, Guangdong province. He used the sobriquets Li Yinggeng 李應庚, Li Xingzhuo 李星卓 and Li Zhuoxian 李卓仙. He was ranked third class in the court exam in the fifteenth year of the Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1889). He was known as an art collector, specializing in epigraphy and the connoisseurship of painting and calligraphy, and was known for having a rich collection of stelae. He published two renowned works, Poems, Composed in Xiangming An (Scented Tea Hut)《香茗庵詞》and List of Private Posthumous Titles of Past Sage Officials in Haimen (Jiangsu province)《海門先正鄉諡表》
Feng Kanghou 馮康矦 or 馮康侯 (1901–1983) was a native of Panyu, Guangdong province. He was a secretary of the President’s Office of Whampoa Military Academy, Guangzhou; the editor of Chunghwa Book Company and an artist specializing in seal carving, calligraphy and painting.
Li Yanshan 李研山 (1898–1961), the owner of the Pavilion of Longing for Clarity, presumably owned this rubbing according to one of the inscriptions. He was a painter, calligrapher, poet and art connoisseur and served as the headmaster of the Guangzhou Municipal College of Art from 1932 to 1936.
Li Buchang 李步昌 (1902–1970), whose secondary name was Li Mengjin 李孟晉, was the elder son of Li Yinsang. Like his father he became a seal carver.
We are indebted to Kunhua Liu for her considerable help on the entry.
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