This is a first edit of English translation. Much work needs to be done yet.
Re-editing the preface of Ma’s genealogy
Since ancient times, most people who have compiled genealogies have imitated Osu’s model. First of all, we focused on tracing the origin and development of the tribe, and then we copied it in block letters instead of printing with movable type. However, printing with movable type did not start today. In the Qingli years of the Song Dynasty, there was a person named Bi Sheng who pioneered the use of movable type to typesetting and printing technology, which was fired with glue. Later, another person from Piling used type for typesetting and printing, which was more ingenious and convenient, considering that the use of mud as the movable type was too rough and melted the lead. Inconvenient, it is better to use wood. During the Kangxi period of my dynasty, copper characters were used as movable characters, and they were stored in the Wuying Hall. The years were long, and many characters were missing, so the copper characters were destroyed and cast into copper coins. By the 38th year of Qianlong, those who worked in Wuying Hall considered using other materials to make a movable type. The emperor, after careful consideration, approved the typesetting and printing of wood movable type and printed books in the Siku Quanshu that have not yet been engraved. And all the missing books and articles are better than those printed with mud-glue and lead. At that time, the emperor thought that the plain characters printed in movable type were unsightly. The emperor also took the plain characters called Juzhen, and also rewarded hymns, and printed them with movable type. Although it started in the Song Dynasty, it has been improved from generation to generation. In fact, it is still the best printing of important documents and books of our dynasty. Now using it to print genealogical texts is in line with the imperial system to show respect for our ancestors. I look at the genealogy of the Ma family in Yanbei. There are no fewer than a thousand families from six houses. In the early years of Jiaqing, it had used movable type typesetting and printing technology. It was popular in Guangxi, Jian’ao, and Mahu. Since the opening of the homestead to settle down to today, there have been more than 20 generations. For every branch, there are general plans, sub-maps, births and deaths, and burials that have been passed on to future generations, especially those who are virtuous and literate: edited book prefaces, biographies, praises of inscriptions, poems and essays, and other works. There are five or six volumes. The family is divided into more than ten Houses. Each house treasures the person in charge of each house. And also treasures another house. There are a total of more than ten books and a total of more than sixty volumes. If you have to copy in regular characters like writing a family letter, I don’t know whether it can be completed in one year. It is the respected leader of the Ma family management affairs. People attach great importance to their Ma family tree. When the draft of the Ma family tree was about to be completed, they immediately used Juzhen to typeset and print their Ma family tree. The engraving and printing are all steps by step in accordance with the methods and steps of the predecessors. Very orderly, carefully proofread every word typeset so that the printed genealogy has no mistakes such as typos and shifting forward and backward. We can see that the Ma family tree is neatly typeset, and the printed characters are very clear, just like clouds returning to the depths of the mountains, the water returns to the rivers, the entire layout is as beautiful as the sun, moon, and stars in the blue sky, as beautiful as the flowers and plants on the vast land. Mr. Shi from Xinchang and I worked together. We all admire the Ma family’s people very much for their genealogy. They treat their genealogy with respect and a serious attitude from the beginning to the end. They want the predecessors to spread and the happiness of future generations. As for the origin and branch of surnames, filial piety, brothers and sisters living in harmony with relatives, not forgetting ancestors, family unity, etc., the people who edited the genealogy have all described the prefaces in detail and I will not repeat them.
Written by Situ Yitang, the Six Masters of the Qing Dynasty