An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

(Yuding) Lidai fuhui (御定)歷代賦彙

Jul 10, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

(Yuding) Lidai fuhui (御定)歷代賦彙 is an anthology of rhapsodies (fu 賦) through the ages compiled by the Kangxi Emperor 康熙帝 (r. 1661-1722).

It is one of only a few collections dedicated to this particular literary genre, which was perceived as distinct from the much more popular regular poems (shi 詩), or lyric-metre poetry (ci 詞). The origin of rhapsodies is usually seen in the elegiac poetry (saoti 騷體) of southern China that has become an outstanding form of literature in the elegies of Qu Yuan 屈原 (d. 278 BCE) and Song Yu 宋玉. Yet the high tide of rhapsodies was the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), when rhapsodies took the form of lengthy descriptive or even didactic poems, like Ban Gu's 班固 (32-92 CE) "Rhapsodies of the two capitals" (Liang du fu 兩都賦).

The oldest anthologies dedicated to the genre of rhapsodies were Zhu Yao’s 祝堯 (jinshi degree 1318) Gufu bianti 古賦辨體, or the anonymous Fuyuan 賦苑 from the late Ming 明 (1368-1644) and Lu Rou’s 陸葇 (1630-1699) Lichao fuge 歷朝賦格 from the early Qing period 清 (1644-1911).

The Kangxi Emperor’s anthology has a length of 140 juan, with a supplement (Waiji 外集, 423 texts) of 20, addenda (Buyi 補遺, 369 texts) of 22, and fragments (Yiju 逸句, 117 texts) of 2 fascicles. It focuses on rhapsodies focusing on matters of statecraft and divided the texts into 30 categories, and 8 categories in the supplement. The total number of texts recorded is no les than 3,412.

The collection is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu. series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2852.