An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Tieweishan congtan 鐵圍山叢談

Aug 15, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Tieweishan congtan 鐵圍山叢談 "Dense talks of Mt. Tiewei" is a biji 筆記 "brush notes" style book written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Cai Tao 蔡絛 (died 1126), courtesy name Cai Yuezhi 蔡約之, style Baina jushi 百衲居士. He came from Xianyou 仙游 in the prefecture of Xinghua 興化 (near modern Fujian 福建, Fuzhou) and was the second son of the chief minister Cai Jing 蔡京. Cai Tao occupied the office of edict attendant (daizhi 待制) of the Huiqiu Hall 徽猷閣, but when his father was accused of treason in 1125 Cai Tao was banished to Bobai 博白 (modern Bobai, Guangxi). In Bobai he lived at the foot of Mt. Tiewei, for which reason his book has been given that title. Cai Tao has also written the texts Xiqing shihua 西清詩話, a poetry criticism, and Beizheng jishi 北征紀實, an account of a military campaign.
The bibliography chapter of the encyclopedia Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 says that the Tieweishan congtan was 5 juan "scrolls" long, but the received version is divided into 6 juan. The book describes the history of the Song dynasty from its foundation on until the reign of Emperor Gaozong 宋高宗 (r. 1127-1162), the first emperor of the Southern Song 南宋 (1127-1279). It describes the system of the court administration and may stories of various court officials. The language is very vivid and elegant and makes the book one of the best of narrative literature. Statements about the role of Cai Jing must nevertheless be taken with care because the son, of course, whitewashed the role his father had taken in the late reform era and in relation to the downfall of the Northern Song 北宋 (960-1126).
The Tieweishan congtan is included in the reprint series Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Xuehai leibian 學海類編 (all 6 juan editions), Xu baichuan xuehai 續百川學海, Gujin shuohai 古今說海, Lidai xiaoshi 歷代小史, Shuofu 說郛, Wuchao xiaoshuo 五朝小說, 無一是齋重鈔 and Shuoku 說庫 (extracts only). In 1983 the Zhonghua shuju 中華書局 published a modern edition with annotations by Feng Huimin 馮惠民 and Shen Xilin 沈錫麟.

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. 2147.