Time, Material and Memories: The Cultural Scape of “Shou Su Hui” (Gathering for Su Shih’s Birthday Remembrance) in Qing Dynasty
“Shou Su Hui”, a meaningful gathering for the remembrance of Su-shi’s birth, is likely to begin with Song Luo (1634-1713) from the Qing dynasty. Song Luo bought over fragmentary edition of Song dynasty “Su Dongpo’s Poem annotated by Shi Yuan Zhi and Gu Xi”, then ordered Shao Changheng (1637-1704), Gu Sili (1669-1722) et al. to make amendments and eventually had it named “Shi Zhu Su Shi”(Shi’s Annotation of Su Dongpo’s Poem). During Kang Xi years (1700), amendments were complete. On the nineteen of the twelfth lunar month, Su-shi’s birthday, Song Luo led the mass for a worshipping ceremony in Su Zhou. The ceremony had Su-shi’s favourite dishes as offerings, Su-shi’s portraits on display, and participants writing responsary literary works, marking the style and scale foundation of later “Shou Su Hui”.
During Qian Long years, Weng Fang-gang got hold of Song Luo’s old copy of Song Qian’s “Su Dongpo’s Poem annotated by Shi Yuan Zhi and Gu Xi”, hence organized “Shou Su Hui” on Su-shi’s birthday at Beijing, and hosted at least 20times of this event in his lifetime. Not much later than Weng Fang-gang, Bi Yuan started and held “Shou Su Hui” for several times with his people in Xi An, and published the participants literary works into a book. Since then, “Shou Su Hui” became an important year-end event to fight the cold and gather the literati.
What makes “Shou Su Hui” differs from the usual literati gatherings with poems and wine, is that it has a specific goal and objective. Furthermore, it is a part of Su-shi’s research history and also displays the literary style of an era. Thus, we could say that “Shou Su Hui” in mid Qing dynasty collaborated the creation of arts and the study historical relics, presenting to us a cultural scape of “Long-lasting time”, “Revealing matterial” and “Inheriting memories”.