An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Houdelu 厚德錄

Aug 15, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Houdelu 厚德錄 "Records of Deep Virtue" is biji 筆記 "brush notes" style book written by the Southern Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Li Yuangang 李元綱, courtesy name Li Guoji 李國紀. He came from Qiantang 錢塘 (modern Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang) and was prefectural government student (xiangsheng 庠生) during the reign of Emperor Xiaozong 宋孝宗 (r. 1162-1189). Except the Houdelu he has authored the book Shengmen shiye tu 圣門事業圖.
In the 4 juan "scrolls" long book Li Yuangang assembles statements of many authors that speak of the honest and righteous administration of officials in the past, to provide examples for the future. The text is highly influenced by the Buddhist belief in the retribution of sins in a later life, which can only be compensated by virtous behaviour and a sincere conduct of life. Some of the paragraphs also include stories about supernatural occurrences, like Zhang Xiaoji's 張孝基 rebirth as a Daoist immortal, which was the result of Zhang's attempts at buying him free of the death penalty, as a consequence of which he encountered the Daoist master Zhongli Quan 鍾離權, who instructed him in the methods to find the Way. The compilers of the descriptive bibliography Siku quanzu zongmu 四庫全書總目 therefore raised doubt whether the Houdelun was really written by Li Yuangang. At least, the book can be used for educational purposes because it adhorts to support the poor and to keep justice and fairness.
The Houdelun is to be found in the reprint series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Baihai 稗海, Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 and Lidai xiaoshi 歷代小史.

Jiaoyu da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 教育大辭典編纂委員會 (ed. 1991). Jiaoyu da cidian 教育大辭典, vol. 8, Zhongguo gudai jiaoyu shi 中國古代教育史, Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe, vol. 1, p. 216.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1889.