An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yuzhu baodian 玉燭寶典

Jan 23, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Yuzhu baodian 玉燭寶典 "Treasure canon of jade candles" is a book about festivals, customs and rituals through the year written during the Sui period 隋 (581-618) by Du Taiqing 杜臺卿, courtesy name Du Shaoshan 杜少山.

Du hailed from Boling 博陵, Hebei, and was appointed Director of the Chancellery (zhongshu huangmen shilang 中書黃門侍郎) during the Northern Qi period 北齊 (550-577). When the Northern Zhou dynasty 北周 (557-581) took over he returned to his home town and only reented civil service after the foundation of the Sui dynasty. He became a court gentleman (lang 郎), and in 594 also an attendant gentleman (shilang 侍郎).

The 12-juan "scrolls" long Yuzhu baodian must have been written before the founding of the Sui empire. When he submitted the text to the throne he was presented with 200 bolts of silk. It is listed in the Song.period 宋 (960-1279) bibliography Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題, but was lost afterwards.

The Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Li Shuchang 黎庶昌 (1837-1898) was able to obtain a manuscript copy in Japan, with a length of only 5 juan, each scroll presenting one month. The Japanese manscript thus ends in the mid-summer month. The first juan begins with an introduction, in which the author is not mentioned, but the title of the book is explained as a combination of the words "jade candle" that are mentioned in the gloss book Erya 爾雅, and the word "treasure canon" that is derived from the section Zhoushu 周書 in the Classic Shangshu 尚書 "Book of Documents".

The book begins with quotations from the chapter Yueling 月令 in the "Book of Rites" Liji 禮記, including the explanations by the Han-period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) scholar Cai Yong 蔡邕 (132-192), as well as quotations from the partially lost texts Xia xiazheng 夏小正 and Huainan shize 淮南時則.

The Yuzhu baodian extensively quotes from various writings or histories, masters and philosophers, poems, and even from Buddhist and Daoist literature. It is rich in explaining customs and habits of the rural population of China, with a lot of interesting information on the beliefs of the common people on thunder and lighting, rain and snow, birds and beasts, and all kinds of plants. Some strange statements are even commented with an attempt at correction.

Part of the Yuzhu baodian is quoted in the collection Shuofu 說郛 (Wanwei shantang 宛委山堂 edition). Li Shuchang published a facsimile of the Japanese version in his series Guyi congshu 古逸叢書.

Chapman, Ian (2015). "Yuzhu baodian", in Cynthia L. Chennault, et al., eds. Early Medieval Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley), 494-500.
Cui Fuzhang 崔富章, Zhu Xinlin 朱新林 (2009). "Guyi congshu ben Yuzhu baodian diben bianxi 《古逸叢書》本《玉燭寶典》底本辨析", Wenxian 文獻, 2009 (7).
Hao Rui 郝蕊 (2016). "Yuzhu baodian de shenglüe fuhao yanjiu: Yi wenku ben, congshu ben, kaozheng ben, Shichuan ben wei li 《玉燭寶典》的省略符號研究——以文庫本、叢書本、考證本、石川本為例", Riyu xuexi yu yanjiu 日語學習與研究, 2016 (8).
Kou Zhiqiang 寇志強 (2017). "Yuzhu baodian suo yin Suishu jingji zhu wei zhulu shu kao 《玉燭寶典》所引《隋書·經籍志》未著錄書考", Guji zhengli yanjiu xuekan 古籍整理研究學刊, 2017 (7).
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Zhang Zhongyan 張重艷 (2015). "Yuzhu baodian zhong de minjian xisu 《玉燭寶典》中的民間習俗", Wenshi zazhi 文史雜志, 2015 (3).
Zhang Zhongyan 張重艷 (2016). "Cong Yuzhu baodian kan Du Taiqing de zongjiao sixiang 從《玉燭寶典》看臺台卿的宗教思想", Hebei Qingbian Guanli Ganbu Xueyuan xuebao 河北青年管理干部學院學報, 2016 (1).