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Chinese Literature
Beitang shuchao 北堂書鈔 "Book Excerpts from the Northern Hall"

The Beitang shuchao 北堂書鈔 "Book excerpts from the Northern Hall" is an encyclopedia compiled by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) writer Yu Shinan 虞世南 (558-638). There is a commentary and supplement (buzhu 補注) by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Chen Yumo 陳禹謨. The name of the book is derived from the hall behind the Palace Library (mishusheng 秘書省). There were some unauthorizied copies on the book market, bearing the title of Gu-Tang leiyuan 古唐類苑 and Da-Tang leiyao 大唐類要. Under the Sui dynasty 隋 (581-618) Yu had served in the Palace Library and thus had access to a vast treasury of books. During this time he compiled the encyclopedia. It was finished around 610 and was originally 174 juan "scrolls" long of which 13 are lost. The modern print edition from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Kong Guangtao 孔廣陶 has 160 juan and 19 chapters with 852 topics quoting more than 21,000 phrases from among all literary genres.
The Beitang shuchao was rarely used until Chen Yumo 陳禹謨 made a first printing during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). Unfortunately Chen also added quotations from later sources that could not have been included in the original Beitang shuchao. Although he sometimes indicated if a paragraph has been added later, it is by no means certain that the other parts are in the original shape. The wildly circulating editions have not survived, except one manuscript called Tang leihan 唐類函 which was discovered by the Ming period scholar Yu Anqi 俞安期 and a manuscript transmitted by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Tao Zongyi 陶宗儀. The Beitang shuchao is one of the earliest general encyclopedias of China covering a large amount of topics. Its value lies in the quotation of a large amount of literary sources of which almost 90 percent are long since lost. The Beitang shuchao is included in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書. A critically revised edition was printed in 1888 by Kong Guangtao, as a reprint of a Song period manuscript (Ying Song Beitang shuchao 影宋北堂書鈔). It was reprinted in 1971 by the Xinguang press 新光書局, in 1974 by the Hongye press 宏業書局 and in 1977 by the Yiwen yinshuju press 藝文印書局, all in Taiwan. In 1989, the Zhongguo shudian press 中國書店 published a reprint.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2034. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書, pp. 28-29, 259. Shijiahuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe.

1. 帝王 Diwang Rulers
2. 后妃 Houfei Consorts
3. 政術 Zhengshu The art of ruling
4. 刑法 Xingfa Penal law
5. 封爵 Fengjue Titles of nobility
6. 設官 Sheguan Establishing offices
7. 禮儀 Liyi Rituals and etiquette
8. 藝文 Yiwen Literature
9. 樂 Yue Music
10. 武功 Wugong The military
11. 衣冠 Yiguan Robes and caps
12. 儀飾 Yishi Ritual utensils
13. 服飾 Fushi Clothing and adornment
14. 舟 Zhou Ships
15. 車 Che Carts
16. 酒食 Jiushi Liquor and food
17. 天 Tian Heaven
18. 歲時 Suishi Seasons and time
19. 地 Di Earth
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

October 31, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail