An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Mingshizong 明詩綜

Aug 6, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Mingshizong 明詩綜 is an anthology of regular shi 詩-style poems from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). The book of 100 juan length was compiled by Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 (1629-1709), who was a famous member of the Classicist School (kaoguxue 考古學) and an expert of ancient literature. As a shi-style poet, Zhu had a name as one of the "two great masters of the north and the south" (Nanbei liang da zong 南北兩大宗), the other one being Wang Shizhen 王士禎 (1634-1711). As a poet in the style of lyric-metre poesy (ci 詞), he was seen as a counterpart of Chen Weisong 陳維崧 (1626-1682), forming the couple Zhu-Chen 朱陳. Zhu is also famous for his essay-style (biji 筆記) book Rixia jiuwen 日下舊聞 and the poetry collection Cizong 詞綜. His collected writings are called Baoshuting ji 曝書亭集.

Zhu’s collection had the intention to rectify errors in circulating publications of Ming-period poetry with their "apocryphal sounds" (chengui zhi yin 讖詭之音), "sombre tendencies" (youleng zhi qu 幽冷之趣) and "unharmonious emotions" (zhongqing zhi fu xie 眾情之弗協). The book includes the works of more than 3,400 writers through the whole Ming period. However, Zhu argues that some mediocre poems were just included because the author had a good reputation, while other poems were excellent, but had been written by otherwise unknown persons. The first fascicle includes poems written by emperors, princes, and consorts. The main part (2.-82.), presenting poems of "normal" persons, is arranged in chronological order. The last fifth of the compilation includes secular and religious court music (Yuezhang 樂章, Gongyi 宮掖, Huangzong 宗潢), women’s poetry (Guimen 閨門), eunuchs (Zhongjuan 中涓), local officials (Waichen 外臣), Daoist priests (Yushi 羽士), Buddhist monks (Shizi 釋子), Daoist nuns (Nüguan 女冠), local chieftains (Tusi 土司), foreigners from vassal states (Shuguo 屬國), as well as anonymous poems (Wumingzi 無名子), private persons (Zaliu 雜流), sing-song girls (Jinü 妓女), and "numinous" persons (Shengui 神鬼). The last two fascicles (99.-100.) includes popular songs (yange 諺歌, minyao 民謠).

Zhu Yizun made use of no less than 282 sources, critically revised their works, added brief biographies (xiaozhuan 小傳), and critical information (shihua 詩話) on the literary standing of each known author. The reader or user can thus learn from the historical background of selected works of Ming-period poetry, for instance, the fights of court factions, or the eminence of Ming loyalists or "martyrs" (xunjie 殉節) during the Manchu conquest of China. The collection gives also evidence of the replacement of the intricate ministerial style of poems (taigeti 臺閣體) by the simpler style of the School of Chaling (Chaling shipai 茶陵詩派) and then the Earlier and the Later Seven Masters (Qian-hou qizi 前後七子) who tried to imitated the grandeur of Tang-period 唐 (618-907) poetry. These were in turn overshadowed by the Gong'an School 公安派 and the Jingling School 竟陵派 who tried to search "character and spirit" (xingling 性靈) in old-style poetry.

The critical remarks are derived from Zhu’s own texts Jingzhiju shihua 靜志居詩話 that is attached to end of the the book.

The book was first printed in 1705 by the Bailianjing Hall 白蓮涇. Another edition is that of the Liufeng Hall 六峰閣 from the Qianlong reign-period 乾隆 (1736-1795). It is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

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Bryant, Daniel (1986). "Ming-shih tsung 明詩綜", in William H. Nienhauser, ed. The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature (Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press), 631-632.
Chen Zhenghong 陳正宏 (1999). "Mingshizong 明詩綜", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 75.
Li Bingzhong 李秉忠, Wei Canjin 衛燦金, Lin Conglong 林從龍, ed. (1990). Jianming wenshi zhishi cidian 簡明文史知識詞典 (Xi’an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 663.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vo. 2, 2836.
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), 390.
Zhang Yongxiu 章用秀 (1997). "Mingshizong 明詩綜", in Men Kui 門巋, Zhang Yanjin 張燕瑾, eds. Zhonghua guocui da cidian 中華國粹大辭典 (Xianggang: Guoji wenhua chuban gongsi), 661.