An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Wuzongzhi 五總志

Sep 2, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Wuzongzhi 五總志 "Records of the Five Completes" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the late Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Wu Jiong 吳炯 (fl. 1131). He was in 1143 junior compiler (bianxiu 編修) in the Palace Secretariat (shumiyuan 樞密院) and was then appointed to an office of supervisor (tiju 提舉) in the circuit of Zhexi 浙西. In the preface to his book, he says that in 1130 he fled the invasion of the Jurchens and dwelled for some time in Xiaosi Monastery 蕭寺, where he finished his short book. The title is derived from a proverb that "a tortoise gives birth to the Five Completes because it is intelligent and knows everything" (gui shen wu zong, ling er zhi shi 龜生五總,靈而知事).

The book narrates Wu Jiong's flight and what he encountered, saw and heard during these times of hardship, particular based on conversations with other scholars. The text therefore includes a lot of scholarly themes, for instance, poetry critique like that on the poems of Huang Tingjian 黃庭堅 (1045-1105). Between these scholarly themes, some private accounts are to be found like his travel from Taiyuan 太原 to Hewai 河外, together with Su Shudang 蘇叔黨 (1072-1123) or his capture by the Jurchens in 1126 at the imperial lodge Xiangfu Yushe 祥符寓舍 near the capital Kaifeng 開封. He reports his grandfather's insistence that the Emperor Renzong 宋仁宗 (r. 1022-1063) might respect his memorials in his position as Censor-in-Chief (yushi dafu 御史), and how the emperor awarded him the title of "Iron Censor" (tie yushi 鐵御史), and how he asked the emperor to be more sparingly in the use of tribute lychees and mulberry (hongsang 紅桑) from the prefecture of Jianwei 犍為. He also explains that his father was a secretary of Li Bangzhi 李邦直 (also called Li Qingchen 李淸臣), a supporter of the reformer Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021-1086), and was therefore in 1105 exiled to southern China.

The book Wuzongzhi is therefore an interesting source about the history of the downfall of the Northern Song dynasty from the viewpoint of a private person. In the many discussions, some errors can be found like Wu Jiong's assertion that the word chi 敕 in the primer Qianziwen 千字文 cannot mean "imperial order (to the author Zhou Xingsi 周興嗣)", and recommends to replace it with the word 梁 "from the Liang period". He also shifts a story from the time of Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) to the times of Emperor Gaozu 漢高祖 (r. 206-195 BCE), and reports a wrong story (narrated in the Tangshi jishi 唐詩紀事) about the life of the poet Luo Binwang 駱賓王 (640?—684?), who became a monk for some period of time.

The Wuzongzhi is included in the series Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Yihai zhuchen 藝海珠塵, Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, Shuofu 說郛 and Jiuxiaoshuo 舊小說.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1952.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 70.
Zhang Yu 張玉 (2023). "Wu Jiong Wuzongzhi banben xiaoshi 吳坰《五總志》版本小識", Nanyang Ligong Xueyuan xuebao 南陽理工學院學報, 2023 (1): 85-89.
Zheng Yunbo 鄭雲波, ed. (1992). Zhongguo gudai xiaoshuo cidian 中國古代小說辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 411.
Zhu Xiaosong 朱曉松 (1996). "Wuzongzhi 五總志", in Jiang Zuyi 蔣祖怡, Chen Zhichun 陳志椿, eds. Zhongguo shihua cidian 中國詩話辭典 (Beijing: Beijing chubanshe), 290.