An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Shuidong riji 水東日記

Jul 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Shuidong riji 水東日記 "Diary from East of the River" is a "brush notes" (biji 筆記) style essay written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Ye Sheng 葉盛. The name of the book is derived from the location of Ye's residence east of River Song 淞水, the modern Suzhou Creek 蘇州河 in the province of Jiangsu.
The main content of his book is a description of the early Ming period system of the central government bureaucracy and can thus be called in unofficial institutional history. As a government official employed in both the central government and as provincial governor Ye Sheng had a huge experience in how the various government agencies worked together, especially in the important fields of tax revenues and the logistics of the military garrisons. Ye Sheng made use of Song 宋 (960-1279) and Yuan 元 (1279-1368) period sources not found in other histories. The Shuidong riji has a length of 40 juan "scrolls" in some editions, and in others 40.
The first but qualitatively very bad print was published in the 1490s. In this print two juan were missing but could be supplemented by a private copy in possession of Ye's descendants, so that a better print could made in the 1530s. A third revised print was made during the Kangxi reign 康熙 (1662-1722). The latter was reprinted in 1980 by the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局, with annotations by Wei Zhongping 魏中平. The Suidong riji is to be found in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Xu shuofu 續說郛 (1 juan, with the title Shuidong jilüe 水東記略) and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 (under the title Shuidong riji zhaichao 水東日記摘抄 and only 7 juan length).

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. 2153.
Xie Guozhen 謝國楨, Wei Zuhui 韋祖輝 (1992). "Shuidong riji 水東日記", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 2, p. 954. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.