從詞彙運用角度探討毛公鼎銘文的真偽問題

朱國藩

  根據張光裕教授的考證,現藏臺灣故宮博物院的毛公鼎是陳介祺當日 (1852) 所得的原器;又根據張光遠、萬家保、張世賢分別所作的科學研究,故宮的毛公鼎器身並無偽作的痕跡。從這兩點可見陳介祺當日所獲的毛公鼎器身確是真品,但這並不能排除毛公鼎器身雖出西周晚期,而銘文卻有後人偽刻的可能。因此辨偽的方法只有從銘文著手,看是否有作偽的痕跡。

  前人辨別銅器銘文的真偽鮮有以詞彙為研究對象,本文在這方面作一個新嘗試。選擇毛公鼎銘文十個詞彙或短語作一番考釋,以求通讀,然後就其出現的時代和語言環境加以討論。結果發現毛公鼎銘文的詞彙不少都是西周習用語,其中更有只見於近年出土的銅器(如「丹g夕」只見毛公鼎與一九七六年出土的瘧薄^,所以在陳氏獲得毛公鼎時根本沒有人能夠鈔襲尚未出土的器物上的用語,因此毛公鼎銘文也就不可能出於偽作。本文並將毛公鼎銘文與時代相近的傳世文獻及同期銅器銘文作出比較,也得出同樣的結論。因為銘文不出於偽作,在真器上刻鑄偽銘的可能性就不存在。從此得出一個結論:現藏故宮博物院的毛公鼎不是偽器。

關鍵詞:毛公鼎 銘文 詞彙 真偽

 

The Question of the Authenticity of the Mao Kung Ting Seen from the Use of Its Vocabulary

Kwok Fan Chu

Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

       The Mao Kung Ting, a bronze ritual vessel of the Western Chou, was first introduced to the world by the Ching scholar and official Chen Chieh-chi 陳介祺. In the fifth month of the second year of Hsien-feng 咸豐 (1852) Chen made an ink rubbing of the inscription of the Mao Kung Ting as well as a partial transcription, and gave a description of the vessel. Unfortunately, he did not elaborate in his record on the date of its discovery but merely stated that it was recently unearthed in Chi-shan 岐山 (district in Shensi 陜西). During the period when the Mao Kung Ting was in Chens hands (1852-1884) rumors circulated that the Mao Kung Ting was a forgery. One of the reasons for the suspicion might have been due to the secrecy surrounding the bronze vessel. None of his friends was permitted to view this particular item. Only a few ink rubbings were available. Two were sent to his closest associates Hsu Tung-po 徐同柏 and Wu Shih-fen 吳式芬 to be deciphered.

       The first scholar who took the view that the Mao Kung Ting was not a genuine Chou bronze vessel was Chang Chih-tung 張之洞, and subsequently Wei Chu-hsien 衛聚賢 took the same view. The points of their criticism are, however, considered groundless by most Chinese scholars and archaeologists today.

       In 1965, Dr. Noel Barnard of The Australian National University published an article entitled Chou China: A Review of the Third Volume of Cheng Te-kuns Archaeology in China in Monumenta Serica Volume XXIV. He declared both the San Shih Pan 散氏盤, an important Chou bronze plate recognized by all Chinese scholars, and the Mao Kung Ting as forgery. In his article Dr. Barnard, besides other things, developed a new approach to the study of ancient Chinese characters which he calls character structures. This approach is based on the theory that repeated characters or elements of characters in any one ancient Chinese document were always written according to the same structure principles. These included the number of strokes and the position of stroke combinations in each occurrence of the same character as written by the same writer. Basing himself on this theory, Dr. Barnard considers the character chui in the Mao Kung Ting as inconsistent.

       Dr. Barnards concept of the principle of constancy of character structures is too revolutionary for most of the Chinese scholars to accept. In fact his article triggered significant responses from Chinese scholars such as Lee Yim 李棪, Cheng Te-kun 鄭德坤, Chang Kuang-yuan 張光遠, Wan Chia-pao 萬家保, Chang Shih-hsien 張世賢, and Cheung Kwong Yue 張光裕. Among them Chang Kuang-yuans Hsi-Chou chung-chi Mao Kung Ting 西周重器毛公鼎 (Mao Kung Ting: A Major Western Chou Period Bronze Vessel: A Rebuttal of Dr. Noel Barnards Conclusion), published in 1972 in the National Palace Museum Quarterly 故宮季刊 Vol. VII, No. 2, is the most lengthy and comprehensive. Dr. Barnards argument was summarized and a response was made to the nine main points contained in the argument.

        Eight months after the publication of Changs article, Dr. Barnard published his Mao Kung Ting: A Major Western Chou Period Bronze Vessel: A Rebuttal of a Rebuttal and Further Evidence of the Questionable Aspects of Its Authenticity (Canberra, 1974, privately published). This book involves more detailed discussions on ancient Chinese bronze vessel casting techniques, and defense of his previous point of view. Although Dr. Barnard admitted a few mistakes that Chang pointed out and Chang thanked Barnard, in a postscript appended to the translation of the above-mentioned article, for correcting a few errors of his own, none of them was convinced by arguments of their opponents.

       A new discovery was then made by Professor Cheung Kwong Yue in his Wei-tso hsien-Chin yi-chi ming-wen shu-yao 偽作先秦彝器銘文疏要 (Researches on Faked Inscribed Bronzes of the Pre-Chin Period [Hong Kong: Hong Kong Book Shop, 1974]). He found two ink rubbings of the inscription in Japan. One is in the collection of the Jinbun Kagaku Kenkyujo 人文科學研究所 of Kyoto University. The other was published by the Nigensha 二玄社 of Tokyo, Japan, in 1964. Professor Cheung compared the two copies character by character with the copy produced by the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. He found several characters with slight differences, which indicated that there were three Mao Kung Tings. The only known one can be seen at the National Palace Museum. After exhaustive research, Professor Cheung concluded that the Mao Kung Ting in the collection of the National Palace Museum is the genuine one. He pointed out that the presence of raised grid lines of an utmost delicacy around the inscriptions coincides with the record made by Chen Chieh-chi in 1852. Thus, Professor Cheung concluded that the Mao Kung Ting in the National Palace Museum was the original bronze vessel collected by Chen Chieh-chi in 1852.

        According to the research done respectively by Chang Kuang-yuan, Wan Chia-pao, and Chang Shih-hsien, there is no sign of forgery in the whole vessel of the Mao Kung Ting. From this standpoint and the evidence provided by Professor Cheung Kwong Yue, we are left with the conclusion that the vessel of the Mao Kung Ting is genuine. But this cannot rule out the possibility that the inscription engraved on a genuine vessel was a forgery. The only proof that the Mao Kung Ting inscription is genuine lies in the absence of any signs of forgery.

       Previous research on the authenticity of the Mao Kung Ting inscription seldom took account of its vocabulary. The present article is thus an attempt to solve the problem from a novel angle. Ten words or phrases from the Mao Kung Ting were deciphered and explained with special reference to their language environment. This is what is found. On the one hand, most of them were idiomatic sayings in the Western Chou. On the other, a few of them can only be found in vessels which were unearthed in recent years, e.g., the phrase chou su hsi 圻g夕” appears only in the Mao Kung Ting and the Hsing Chung which was unearthed in 1976. It is obvious that Chen Chieh-chi, when he collected the Mao Kung Ting in 1852, could not have copied from an inscription that was as yet unknown. From this we can safely conclude that the inscription on the Mao Kung Ting is not a forgery. This article also compares the Mao Kung Ting inscription and the inscriptions on other bronze vessels as well as extant traditional texts. The same conclusion has also been reached.

Keywords: Mao Kung Ting, inscription, vocabulary, authenticity