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Shi Liuqiu lu 使琉球錄

Sep 2, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Shi Liuqiu lu 使琉球錄 "Records of a mission to Ryūkyū" is the title of several books compiled during the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644). These are the books by 1) Tao Kan 陳侃, 2) Guo Shilin 郭世霖, 3) Xiao Chongye 蕭崇業 and Xie Jie 謝傑, and 4) Xia Ziyang 夏子陽and Wang Shizhen 王士禎.

Tao Kan 陳侃 (b. 1507), courtesy name Yinghe 應和, hailed from Yinxian 鄞縣 (today part of Ningbo 寧波, Zhejiang), and was left supervising secretary of the Office of Scrutiny for Personnel (like zuo jishizhong 吏科左給事中) when he and Messenger (xingren 行人( Gao Cheng 高澄 (1494-1552) were sent on a diplomatic mission to Ryūkyū. In his short book, he describes the geography, customs and habits, the royal court and its dignitaries, plants and animals, and local products of the islands as he saw them in 1532. The mission was carried out in order to invest the new king of Zhongshan 中山, Shō Sei (Shang Qing) 尚清 (r. 1526 bis 1555), as a subject of the empire of China. The voyagers crossed the islands of Diaoyuyu 釣魚嶼, Huangmaoyu 黃毛嶼 and Chiyi 赤嶼 and landed in the port of Naha 那霸, where they were received with great honours.

Tao's book provides information not found in the Ming geography Da-Ming yitong zhi 大明一統志 nor the famous travel report Xingcha shenglan 星槎勝覽 or the geographical book Luochonglu 蠃蟲錄 (better known as Yiyuzhi 異域志) by Zhou Zhizhong 周致中 (14th cent.). It is found in the series Jilu huibian 紀錄匯編 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編. Gao Cheng wrote a small report on the mission called Caozhouji 操舟記.

Guo Shilin 郭世霖 (jinshi degree 1553), also called Guo Rulin 郭汝霖, from Yongfeng 永豐, Jiangxi, likewise supervising secretary in the Office of Scrutiny. He and Messenger Li Jichun 李際春 were sent to Ryūkū in 1558 for the investiture of King Shō Gen (Shang Yuan) 尚元 (r. 1556-1572). The book of Guo is more or less an adaption of Tao Kan's report and is quite identical with the chapter on Ryūkyū (323 Liuqiu zhuan 琉球傳) in the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史. It includes some commentaries by Guo Shilin marked with the words Lin an 霖按. The book of 2 juan does not add substantially new information.

Xiao Chongye 蕭崇業 (d. 1588) hailed from Lin'an 臨安 in Yunnan and was chief supervising secretary in the Office of Scrutiny for War (bingke du jishizhong 兵科都給事中). Xie Jie 謝傑 (1536-1604) from Changle 長樂, Fujian, was Messenger. They were sent to Ryūkyū in 1576 for the investiture of King Shō Ei (Shang Yong) 尚永 (r. 1573-1588). This text, too, does not add new information to the reports of Tao and Guo. The bibliographical chapter (97 Yiwen zhi 藝文志) of the Mingshi says, the book of Xiao and Xie was 6-juan long, but the transmitted version has only 2 fascicles.

The series Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書 includes a fourth book of the title, namely Xia Ziyang 夏子陽 (1522-1610), courtesy name Junfu 君甫, and Wang Shizhen 王士禎 (1522-1610), with a length of 2 juan.

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