The Pan family from Suzhou in the Qing dynasty primarily consisted of two bloodlines, with one considered as more wealthy and the other enjoying higher social status. The latter one moved from a county located in Anhui province to Suzhou in the Ming dynasty. Since Emperor Qianlong’s reign in the Qing dynasty, the family gradually became more prosperous and made great achievements in imperial examination. The family members served as government officials for generations, with gradual social climbing. Apart from the achievements made in social rank, this bloodline of the Pan family was well-known for their poetry, calligraphy and paintings and collections.
Among the descendants of Pan Shi’en who had served four emperors, Pan Zuyin, who inherited his father and uncles’ tradition and took a leading role in collection for later generations, was regarded as the critical representative in enriching the collections of the Pan family. His residences Pan-Gu-Lou and Pang-Xi-Zhai collected bronzes and rare ancient books respectively. The exquisiteness of the collections went beyond all other contemporaries at that time. Pan’s friends and disciples, such as Wu Dacheng, Wang Yirong, Zhao Zhiqian and Li Ciming, had frequent gatherings and took pleasure in research of bronzes and stone rubbings and appreciation of ancient books. The collections, including Da-Yu-Ding tripod, Da-Ke-Ding tripod, Record of Bronze Inscriptions and Stone Rubbings and Catalogue of Plum Blossoms of the Song dynasty, were delivered back to Suzhou by his brother Pan Zunian, which were kept well and complete for decades.
Since the Republic of China, Pan Boshan and Pan Jingzheng, grandsons of Pan Zuyin’s cousin Pan Zutong, inherited his collections in Zhu-Shan-Tang (Hall of Bamboo Mountain) and continued this cause. They had an insight in discerning authentic treasures and found Chen Shidao’s Anthology in a cluster of old books. They kept these precious books in Bao-Shan-Lou. Pan Boshan ran business in industry and restored the prestige of the Pan family. His collection of calligraphy and paintings, letters, rare ancient books and Chinese ink were much better than his contemporaries. It was a pity that he died in middle age, but fortunately his brother Pan Jingzheng went on with the collection.
When the Anti-Japanese War broke out in 1937, Suzhou fell into the hands of the Japanese army. Thanks to Pan Ding Dayu and Pan Boshan’s efforts, the bronzes of Pan-Gu-Lou and the ancient books of Pang-Xi-Zhai were well kept. Since 1952, Pan’s collections were gradually donated to the government by Pan Boshan’s wife Ding Xierou, Pan Ding Dayu and her sister, and are now collected by the Palace Museum, Shanghai Museum, Nanjing Museum, the National Library of China, Shanghai Library, etc.
After the exhibition of collections of the Gu family and the Wu family, we have selected the best collections of the Pan family represented by Pan Zuyin and Pan Boshan, and have them exhibited in Suzhou. Sincere thanks go to the Palace Museum, the National Library of China, Shanghai Museum, Nanjing Museum, Guizhou Provincial Museum, Suzhou Library and Art Museum, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and descendants of the Pan family for their great support of this exhibition.
The Pan family have made great contributions to the collection of cultural relics. Their name shall be engraved in history and be the glory of the country.
The above serves as the preface.
Director of Suzhou Museum