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Maoshi mingwu tushuo 毛詩名物圖說

Mar 25, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Maoshi mingwu tushuo 毛詩名物圖說 is an illustrated book on animals and plants mentioned in the Confucian Classic Shijing 詩經 "Book of Songs". It was written during the mid-Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Xu Ding 徐鼎 (fl. 1771), courtesy name Shifu 實夫 or Zhidong 峙東, style Xueqiao 雪樵, from Wuxian 吳縣 (Suzhou 蘇州), Jiangsu. His collected writings are called Luyunguan shiwen ji 露雲館詩文集.

This is the only commentary book on the Shijing that combines written explanations with images. It was finished in 1771.

In a lexicographical manner, the text presents images and explanations on birds (ch. 1), beasts (ch. 2), creeping animals and insects (ch. 3), fishes and other aquatic animals (ch. 4), herbaceous plants (ch. 5-7), and trees (ch. 8-9). The book describes no less than 255 species with images of relatively high scientific quality. For the descriptive texts, Xu selected trustworthy information from various types of literature, including scholarly books on materia medica. In addition to that, Xu also added some personal observations in some instances and thus corrects errors in transmitted texts.

Figure 1. Drawings of animals and plants in the Maoshi mingwu tushuo 毛詩名物圖說
Images from ch. 1 (the jujiu 雎鳩 bird) and 5 (the xingcai 荇菜 plant), with scholarly explanations. 1771 edition.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin dauxe chubanshe), Vol. 1, 197.
Cheng Baochuo 程寶綽 (1993). "Maoshi mingwu tushuo tiyao《毛詩名物圖說》題要", in Gou Cuihua 茍萃華, ed. Zhongguo kexue jishu dianji tonghui 中國科學技術典籍通彙, part Shengwu 生物卷 (Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 673-674.
Ma Qingzhou 馬慶洲 (2007). "Zhengliben Maoshi mingwu tushuo pingshuo 整理本《毛詩名物圖說》評說", Qinghua Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban) 清華大學學報(哲學社會科學版), 2007 (1): 145.