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Duojiaji 多稼集

Feb 15, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Duojiaji 多稼集 "The many aspects of farming", also called Gengxin nonghua 耕心農話, is a book on agriculture in the region of Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu, written by Xi Cheng 奚誠 (mid-19th cent.), courtesy name Ziming 子明, style Daotianren 田道人.

The aim of the book was to instruct simple persons of the correct ways of farming, in order to avoid that one the one hand the authorities misinterpreted aspects of farming, and on the other, that peasants with less experience made critical errors in their daily business.

The book was compiled over a lengthy period of time. While Lü Chengxian 呂承賢 wrote a preface as early as 1830, the texts was only finished in 1852. The author himself wrote an additional preface in a revised edition of 1875. Yet the Duojiaji was never printed and circulated in two different manuscript versions with different titles.

The Beijing Library 北京圖書館 owns a 2-juan-long version with the title Duojiaji and a preface written in 1847. The first fascicle, titled "New methods of farming" (Zhongtian xinfa 種田新法) highlights practical methods of the cultivation on compartment fields (qutian 區田) and on crop rotation fields (daitian 代田), like the sowing on or between ridges, the change of crop on certain segments of the field, or the annual change of ridge placement. Concerning wet rice, the book recommends types of soil, observation of weather, fertilization, pest control, weeding or irrigation. The second fascicle, "Illustrations on agricultural policy" (Nongzheng faming 農政發明) is written for the local administration and presents basic modes of cultivation on compartment fields. The aim of all methods was to yield three harvests per year. The version closes with a "farmer's song" (Tian daoren ge 田道人歌). The specialty of this version is the combination of quotations from old texts and practical experience. This version is included in the series Quzhong shi zhong 區種十種.

The version owned by the Institution of Chinese Agricultural Heritage of China (Zhongguo Nongye Yichan Yanjiushi 中國農業遺產研究室, today Institution of Chinese Agricultural Civilization) in Nanjing 南京 is called Gengxin nonghua. This title is derived from the name of author's study Gengxintang 耕心堂 "Hall of Ploughing the Mind". The arrangement of the two fascicles is just the opposite of the Beijing Library version. The first part includes two chapters more, namely one on the reintroduction of the well-field system (Fu jingtianfa 復井田法), and one on water conservancy in Jiangsu (Jiangnan shuili 江南水利). The second part, bearing the same title as the book itself, presents cultivation methods for 25 crops, from staple grain to cotton, pulses, sweetpotatoes, melons, lotus, sugarcane, flowers and medical herbs. This spectrum is much larger than in the Beijing Library version.

Sources:
Nongye da cidian bianji weiyuanhui 《農業大詞典》 編輯委員會, ed. (1998). Nongye da cidian 農業大詞典 (Beijing: Zhonggou nongye chubanshe), 372.
Peng Shijiang 彭世獎 (1995). "Duojiaji 多稼集", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Nongye lishi 農業歷史卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 52.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 349.
Wang Yuhu 王毓瑚, ed. (1964). Zhongguo nongxue shulu 中國農學書錄 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 266.