An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Haishang jianwen lu 海上見聞錄

Mar 15, 2021 © Ulrich Theobald

Haishang jianwen lu 海上見聞錄 is a report on the history of the Zheng family 鄭 who ruled over southeast China during the transgression from the Ming 明 (1368-1644) to the Qing 清 (1644-1911) period. The book of 2 juan was written by Ruan Minxi 阮旻錫(1627-?), courtesy name Chousheng 疇生, from Tong'an 同安, Fujian, during the early Qing period. Ruan once belonged to the staff of advisors to the warlord Zheng Chenggong 鄭成功 (Koxinga, xxx), who resisted the newly founded Qing dynasty. After 1663, with the withdrawal of Koxinga' son Zheng Jing 鄭經 xxx to Taiwan, Ruan began a restless life, spent years in Yanyun 燕雲 (Beijing) and only returned to Xiamen 廈門, Fujian, in 1694, as a monk and teacher.

Ruan consulted early history books on the events, like Yang Ying's 楊英 xxx Haishang shilu 海上實錄 (Xianwang shilu 先王實錄), Xia Lin's 夏琳 Haiji jiyao 海紀輯要 (see Minhai jiyao 閩海紀要) or the anonymous Haiji 海記, and consulted some eyewitnesses of the war of resistance against the Manchus. His own book, finished in 1706, starts with the history of Zheng Chenggong and his son and grandson Zheng Jing and Zheng Keshuang 鄭克塽. The book provided important historiographical material from this phase of the Southern Ming dynasty 南明 (1644-1661), from 1644 to 1683.

The author of the oldest edition is called Ludao Daoren Meng'an 鷺島道人夢葊 "Dream Lodge of the Immortal from XXX Island", which was the style of Ruan when he lived in north China. The book consists of reports of what he experienced himself, and of the content of interviews with military personnel and other eyewitnesses.

In 1911, the Commercial Press 商務印書館 published this book together with the romance Tongshi 痛史 and a series of other books, but the quality of this edition is inferior. This version was reprinted in 1913 and is also included in the series Taiwan wenxian congkan 臺灣文獻叢刊, published in 1958 by the Taiwan Yinhang 臺灣銀行. A manuscript version was discovered in the 1960s in Ruan's home village and was first published in 1980 by the Zheng Chenggong Jinianguan 鄭成功紀念館 in Xiamen. It served as the source for a modern typesetting edition called Haishang jianwenlu dingben 海上見聞錄定本, published in 1982 by the Fujian Renmin Press 福建人民出版 with annotations by Zhang Zongqia 張宗洽.

The book provides important information on a critical historical phase, but Ruan's flight to the north in-midst the turmoil and his non-avoidance of taboo names of the Zheng family shows that he was in fact less loyal to the Zhengs than, for instance, Yang Ying.

Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 742.