An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Biji manzhi 碧雞漫志

Jul 10, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Biji manzhi 碧雞漫志 "Boundless records of the Emerald Hen [Quarter]" is a "brush-notes"-style (biji 筆記) essay written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Wang Zhuo 王灼 (fl. 1162), courtesy name Hui 晦, style Yitang 頤堂 or Xiaoxi 小溪, from Suining 遂寧 (today in Sichuan province). The name of the book is derived from the name of an urban quarter in Chengdu 成都, the Bijifang 碧雞坊. The preface dates from 1209, which means that the book was perhaps published after Wang Zhuo's passing away.

The book of 1 juan length and 35 chapters is dedicated to thoughts on the history and development of musical keys (qudiao 曲調) and standard melodies. The first seven chapters are a kind of general overview of the development of music through the Tang 唐 (618-907) and Song periods. The rest of the book speaks about heterogenous issues concerning music. The chapters focus on individual melodies called like regions, e.g. Liangzhou 涼州, Ganzhou 甘州, Huweizhou 胡渭州 or Xihe 西河 (all located in western China), others on dances like Nichang yuyi qu 霓裳羽衣曲 or Liuyao 六幺, and yet others on standard melodies used for lyric-metre poetry (ci 詞), like Liuyang zhi 楊柳枝, Yu meiren 虞美人, Nian nujiao 念奴嬌 or Pusa man 菩薩蠻. For all these melodies, Wang explains origin and development.

Wang constates that during the Song period, the popularity of lyric-metre models led to the creation of more and more variant modes that altered former models, leading to complex designations and patterns. Wang also mentions aria-style poetry (zaqu 雜曲), a genre that began to emerge during his time, and he only occasionally refers to the standard musical keys (gongdiao 宮調). During the early Southern Song period, the poetic style of "songs" (ge 歌) that was flourishing during the Tang period, gradually vanished.

Wang Zhuo brought forward a kind of theory of poetry and songs (ge), stressing that there was no clear division between these two genres. The "songs" (shi 詩) of antiquity served to rectify right and wrong, to move Heaven and earth, and to feel souls and spirits. The rulers of old therefore used the "Songs" (i.e. the Shijing 詩經 "Book of Songs") to unify man and woman, to complete filialty and respect, to strengthen human relations, to beautify education, and to change customs and behaviour (to the better). Songs created among the common folks served as "the subtleties of nature" (ziran zhi miao 自然之妙). The author criticizes the poetic style of quite a few Song-period masters like Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021-1086), Yan Shu 晏殊 (991-1055), Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 (1007-1072) or Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037-1101).

The edition of the Biji manzhi in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 has only one fascicle, but there are also longer versions of 5 juan, for example, that in the series Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書 that includes paragraphs not included in the 1-juan version. The Biji manzhi is also part of the series Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Shuofu 說郛, Xuehai leibian 學海類編 and Cihua congbian 詞話叢編. The edition with the most detailed annotations is found in the series Zhonguo gudian xiqu lunzhu jicheng 中國古典戲曲論著集成.

Quotation 1. The origins of the melody Lizhi xiang 荔枝香
《荔枝香》,唐史《禮樂志》云:「帝幸驪山,楊貴妃生日,命小部張樂長生殿,奏新曲,未有名,會南方進荔枝,因名曰《荔枝香》。」 Concerning the melody pattern "Fragrance of lychee", the treatise on Rites and Music (Li-yue zhi 禮樂志) in the [New] Official History of the Tang dynasty (Xintangshi 新唐書) says: When Emperor [Xuanzong 唐玄宗] resided in Lishan 驪山, it was the birthday of Lady Yang (Guifei 楊貴妃), and he ordered xxx to make music in the Hall of Eternal Life (Changsheng Dian 長生殿). They composed a new melody, but it had still no name. At the time, lychee fruits were brought in from the south, and thus, the tune was given this name.
《脞説》云:「太真妃好食荔枝,每歲忠州置急遞上進,五日至都。天寶四年夏,荔枝滋甚,比開籠時,香滿一室。供奉李龜年撰此曲進之,宣賜甚厚。」 The book "Talks about trifling matters" (Cuoshuo 脞説, perhaps Zhang Junfang's 張君房 Yeyu cuoshuo 野語脞説) says, Consort Taizhen 太真妃 (i.e., Yang Guifei) loved lychee fruits, and each year, fruits from the prefecture of Zhongzhou 忠州 were presented to her, with only five days delivering time to the capital. In summer 745, the fruits were quite mellow, and when the baskets were opened, their beautiful smell filled the hall. [At that occasion], xxx Li Guinian 李龜年 created a melody and presented it, and was rewarded lavishly.
《楊妃外傳》云:「明皇在驪山,命小部音聲於長生殿奏新曲,未有名,會南海進荔枝,因名《荔枝香》。」 The unofficial biography of Yang Guifei (Yang Fei waizhuan 楊妃外傳) says, when Emperor Ming 明皇 (i.e., Emperor Xuanzong) was in Lishan, he ordered xxx to perform a new melody at the Hall of Everlasting Life. It had no name yet, but when lychee fruits were presented from the Southern Sea, it was given the name "Fragrance of lychee".
三説雖小異,要是明皇時曲。然史及《楊妃外傳》皆謂帝在驪山,故杜牧之華清絕句云:「長安回望繡成堆。山頂千門次第開。一騎紅塵妃子笑,無人知道荔枝來。」 Even if there are slight differences in the three sources, it can be learnt that the melody dates from the time of Emperor Ming. These sources say that the emperor dwelled at Lishan at the time, but the short-verse poem (jueju 絕句) "[Passing the Palace] of Floral Purity [on Mt. Lishan]" (Guo Huaqinggong 過華清宫) of Du Mu says, "[I] looked back from [the capital] Chang'an 長安 to the well-embroidered hills, and the gates of the thousand summits open one by one [to give way] to the express rider who shall deliver joy to the Consort – but no one knew where the lychee fruits really came from."
《遯齋閑覽》非之,曰:「明皇每歲十月幸驪山,至春乃還,未嘗用六月。詞意雖美,而失事實。」 The book "Leisure views of Hidden Studio" (Dunzhai xianlan 遯齋閑覽 [by Chen Zhengmin 陳正敏]) renounces this, saying that the Emperor used to stay at Lishan over the winter, and not in summer [when lychee fruits are ripe]. Thus, even if the name of the melody is beautiful, the story behind it is devoid of facts.
予觀小杜華清長篇,又有「塵埃羯鼓索,片段荔枝筐」之語。其後歐陽永叔詞亦云:「一從魂散馬嵬關。只有紅塵無驛使,滿眼驪山。」唐史既出永叔,宜此詞亦爾也。 A closer look at the collection "[Thirty rhymes of] the Palace of Floral Purity" (Huaqinggong sanshi yun 華清宮三十韻) of Du [Mu] 杜牧 shows the verses "In the dust a Jie-drum rope, and fragments of a lychee basket." Later on, Ouyang Yongshu 歐陽永叔 said in a poem: "After the souls were scattered at Mawei Pass 馬嵬關, there is only just dust left of the courier stations, wherever the eye wanders over Mt. Lishan." Since statements in the Tang history originate in [Ouyang] Yongshu's words, it is appropriate to believe them.
今歇指、大石兩調皆有近拍,不知何者爲本曲。 The melodies "Pausing the fingers" (Xiezhi 歇指) and "Large Stone" (Dashi 大石) are very similar, but their origins are unkown.
陳正宏 "碧雞漫志"《中國學術名著提要 文學卷》 第478页 董乃斌 "碧雞漫志" 《中國大百科全書 中國文學Ⅰ》 第43頁 黃進德2003 "碧雞漫志"卞孝萱 《唐代文學百科辭典 (漢語大詞典出版社), 1117. 林非197 《中國散文大辭典 (中州古籍出版社), 190. 《四庫大辭典 下》 第2395頁 石平 "碧雞漫志"《中華國粹大辭典》 第892頁 吳楓1994 《中華古文獻大辭典 文學卷 (吉林文史出版社), 732. 閻景翰1990 《寫作藝術大辭典 (陜西人民出版社), 1518. 張葆全1992 《中國古代詩話詞話辭典 (廣西師范大學出版社), 488頁 張高寬 ... [等] 《宋詞大辭典 (遼寧人民出版社), 883. 張全生 "碧雞漫志"《中華國粹大辭典》 第684頁 趙則誠, 張連弟, 畢萬忱1985吉林文史出版社 《中國古代文學理論辭典》 第234頁