An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jinwenzui 金文最

Feb 8, 2018 © Ulrich Theobald

Jinwenzui 金文最 is a collection of Chinese-language prose writings form the Jin period 金 (1115-1234) compiled by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Zhang Jinwu 張金吾 (1787-1829), courtesy name Shenzhan 慎旃, style Yuexiao 月霄 or Guangjizi 光基子. He hailed form Zhaowen 昭文 (today's Changshu 常熟, Jiangsu) and was a famous collector of ancient editions. His own writings were mainly critical commentaries, like Liang-Han wujing boshi kao 兩漢五經博士考, Shiqishi yinjing kao 十七史引經考 or Baihutong zhu 白虎通注, but he also compiled an annotated bibliography of his own collections, Airijinglu cangshu zhi 愛日精廬藏書志.

The collection Jinwenzui was finished in 1822, after three substantial revisions. It was originally 120-juan long, but the final version only includes 60 juan. Zhang only quoted those texts literally which were not already part of the collection Jinwenya 金文雅, compiled somewhat earlier by Zhuang Zhongfang 莊仲方 (1780-1857). Zhang Jinwu made use of sources like the official dynastic history Jinshi 金史, the history books Sanchao beimeng huibian 三朝北盟會編 and Da-Jin diaofa lu 大金吊伐錄, the ceramonial book Da-Jin jili 大金集禮, geographical treatises, collections of stone inscriptions, medical texts, miscellaneous writings, novellas, as well as religious texts, and made excerpts of collections of individual writings like Zhuoxuan ji 拙軒集 (writings of Wang Ji 王寂, 1128-1194), Fushui ji 滏水集 (writings of Zhao Bingwen 趙秉文, 1159-1232), Hunan ji 滹南集 (writings of Wang Ruoxu 王若虛, 1174-1243), Yuan Yishan wenji 元遺山文集 (writings of Yuan Haowen 元好問, 1190-1257), Zhuangjing ji 莊靖集 (writings of Li Junmin 李俊民, 1175 or 1176-1260), Ermiao ji 二妙集 (writings of Zhao Shixiu 趙師秀, 1170-1219) or Guiqianzhi 歸潛志 by Liu Qi 劉祁 (1203-1250). The collection includes more than 1,790 texts of over a hundred writers.

Zhang's collection is arranged according to 42 literary categories in the traditional manner, beginning with rhapsodies (fu 賦, yuezhang 樂章) and elegies (sao 騷, juan 1), then proceeding to official documents (zhaoling 詔令, juan 2-4, cewen 冊文, juan 5, zhigao 制誥, tiequanwen 鐵券文, cewen 策問, biao 表, juan 6-7, zoushu 奏疏, juan 8-9), and then private texts like admonitions (zhen 箴), inscriptions (ming 銘), eulogies (zan 贊), hymns (song 頌), records (ji 記, juan 10-11/12), prefaces or essays (xu 序, juan 12-23), colophons (ba 跋), letters (shu 書, juan 24-25/26), reports (zhazi 劄子, juan 26-28), discussions (yi 議, juan 29), discourses (lun 論), arguments (bian 辨), essays (shuo 說), analyses (yuan 原, juan 30), prose texts (? wen 文, juan 31), reports to superiors (die 牒), military proclamations (xi 檄), proclamations (bang 榜), communications (zhihui 指揮), orders (guan 關), commissions (fu 符, juan 32), inscriptions of steles (bei 碑), inscriptions of tomb steles (mubei 墓碑, juan 33-43/44), inscriptions at pagodas (taming 塔銘, juan 44-55/56), descriptions of conduct (xingzhuang 行狀), laments (aici 哀辭), sacrificial texts (jiwen 祭文), biographies (zhuan 傳, juan 57), itemized reports (shu 疏), "green words and vermillion documents" (qingci zhubiao bang 青詞朱表榜), juan 58), texts of miscellaneous character (zazhu 雜著), and an appendix (juan 59-60).

Most texts are recorded complete, but for medical and Buddhist and Daoist texts, only the prefaces were copied. Poems are not included in the collection. Documents in Jurchen language were likewise not considered.

The word zui 最 in the title is derived from a phrase in the Classic Gongyangzhuan 公羊传 and has the meaning of "assembling".

Huang Tingjian 黃廷鑑 (1762-1842), who wrote the preface to the Jinwenzui, rated Zhang Jinwu's collection as of better quality than Guo Yuanyu's 郭元釪 (early 18th cent.) collection on Jin period poems, Quanjinshi 全金詩 from 1711.

Zhang Jinwu died before the book was published. It was purchased by Wu Ziyuan 伍紫垣, whose son Wu Zisheng 伍子升 decided to have it printed and published by the Yueyatang Studio 粵雅堂 in 1882 and separately by the Jiangsu Press 江蘇書局 in 1895. A critical modern edition was published in 1990 by the Zhonghua Press 中華書局.

The oldest collection of Jin period writings, called Jinwen 金文 and including "several hundred juan" of texts, was compiled by Feng Qingfu 馮清甫 (mid-13th cent.) during the early Yuan period 元 (1279-1368), but it is lost.

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