Row continues over Chinese 'sacred' book lost in restroom in Japan
April 17, 2013
By HIDEKI MOTOYAMA/ Staff Writer
A legal battle is continuing over a unique collection of Chinese seal designs that went missing in Japan in 2011, raising concerns over the future of bilateral cultural exchanges.
Known as the "sacred book" on seal art, the two-volume "Xiling Bajia Yincun" 《西泠八家印存》(Seirei Hakka Inzon) features 601 designs by eight seal engravers in the latter part of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), called the "Big Eight of Xiling."
It is the only copy in the world, and it could be worth more than 100 million yen ($1 million) by one estimate.
The designs were collected by Ding Ren (1879-1949), a co-founder of China's Xiling seal society, as well as his father and grandfather, over 100 years.
Engraving characters into stone, wood or metal to create seals is an established branch of calligraphy.
The book's existence was not publicly known until Ding Ruxia, 67, Ding's granddaughter and an entrepreneur who lives in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, made an announcement in 2003.
The book attracted attention from calligraphers both in Japan and in China, where a special TV program was broadcast.
Japanese seal artist Fukei Naito, 71, lost the book in September 2011 after he borrowed it from Ding for an exhibition.
Naito, a member of the Nitten art organization and vice president of the all-Japan seal art federation, said he left the book behind in a hotel restroom in Saitama when he was on his way to return the book to Ding.
Naito said he realized that he did not have the book with him about 10 minutes later and returned to the restroom. He said he was unable to find the book and contacted police.
Ding had suspicions about the way Naito lost the book, so she filed a lawsuit in July demanding he hand it over, and the court ruled in her favor.
But after authorities could not find the book in Naito’s home or office, Ding filed another suit in January, seeking 30 million yen in damages.
"I am having a hard time because the book I inherited from my ancestors has gone missing," Ding said. "I am demanding 30 million yen because that is the amount Naito is able to pay. The book is actually worth more than that."
Naito said he is sorry for losing the book by mistake. He said he wants to pay damages but the book is not worth 30 million yen.
Wu Chao, a Shanghai-based calligrapher and a member of the Xiling seal society, said the book will fetch more than 100 million yen if it is auctioned in China.
By HIDEKI MOTOYAMA/ Staff Writer
The "Xiling Bajia Yincun" is known as the "sacred book" of Chinese seal art. (Provided by Ding Ruxia)
Xiling seal society
追溯“西泠八家”稱呼的由來，與印譜輯拓有著密切的關聯。 嘉慶中期（約1808年前後）杭州何元錫、何澍父子輯拓丁、蔣、黃、奚四人篆刻成《西泠四家印譜》，“ 西泠四家 ”命名肇始於此。 光緒九年（1883年）傅栻輯拓《西泠六家印存》，增加了陳豫鐘、陳鴻壽。
光緒十一年（1885年）丁丙輯拓《西泠四家印譜》，“附存四家”為陳豫鐘、陳鴻壽、趙之琛、錢松，首次推出了八家名單。 光緒三十年（1904年）丁仁輯成《西泠八家印選》四冊本，正式確定“西泠八家”名稱，人選則沿襲丁丙的名單。 光緒三十一年（1905年）丁仁胞弟丁三在輯拓《西泠八家印選》一冊本。 至此，“西泠八家”及其名單應當已深入人心。
馬光楣精研浙派，他不會不知道西泠印社創始人之一丁仁輯拓的《西泠八家印選》。 何況十二舉的末尾說“是以八家印譜亦須研究”，這就奇怪了，難道還存在另一種西泠八家印譜？ 簡而析之，這八家分屬五代人：丁敬是第一代，蔣仁、奚岡、黃易是第二代，陳豫鐘、陳鴻壽第三代，趙之琛是第四代，錢松是第五代。 屠倬和趙之琛同年出生，作為浙派第四代印人中的佼佼者，他被歸入“八家”，於情於理也講得通。 可是“西泠八家”畢竟是約定俗成的概念，對於馬光楣的“八家”新說，目前還沒有發現其他任何佐證。 是屠倬的確曾被視作“西泠八家”之一，還是馬光楣記錯了？ 這有待高明之士來解答。
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