Duoneng bishi 多能鄙事 "Various skills in daily life" is a heterogeneous agricultural treatise believed to have been compiled during the very early Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Liu Ji 劉基 (1311-1375), courtesy name Bowen 伯溫. He is known as the author of the book Yulizi 郁離子.
It is, however, probable that Liu Ji was not the real author of the book, and the name of this person was only acquired to gain better sales figures. Quite a few paragraphs were copied from the domestic-use encyclopaedia (tongshu 通書) Jujia biyong shilei quanji 居家必用事類全集 from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) which might be a sign that the book was in fact an altered and extended extract of this encyclopaedia. Many parts are also identical to the farming book Bianmin tuzuan 便民圖纂. The factual date of compilation is thus rather the mid-Ming rather than the early Ming period.
As usual, many quotations from older books on farming are included, but also novel information based on practical experience.
The texts is divided into twelve chapters or juan covering the themes food and drinking, clothing and adornments, tools and implements, medicine, farming and gardening, domestic animals, the influence of Yin and Yang, divination, as well as the "ten spirits" (shishen 十神). The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshuy 四庫全書 categorized the Duoneng bishi therefore as heterogenous text (zajia 雜家). It is not included in the series, but only described in the catalogue of existing books (cunmu 存目).
The chapter on farming deals with flowers, fruits, legumes, medical plants, tea and bamboos, and describes various methods of cultivation and propagation. The part on domestic animals includes information on the breeding and medical treatment of mammals (horses, oxen, sheep, dogs, pigs), birds (chicks, geese, ducks) and fishes. From the agricultural aspect, the part on cooking is also interesting because it describes modes of the processing and storage of agricultural produce.
Of particular interest is the part on dyeing in the chapter on clothing and adornments. It describes, for 13 different colours, the necessary dyes, auxiliaries, the dosage and the process in detail. This part of the book can be called the first report of dyeing technique in ancient China.
The oldest print of the Duoneng bishi dates from 1540, and there is another Ming-period print from the very late 16th century. The first lithographic print was published in 1917 by the Ronghua Studio 榮華書局 in Shanghai.
|1-4||飲食類||Drinking and food|
|4||服飾類||Clothing and adornments|
|器用類||Tools and implements|
|6||百藥類||The hundred herbal medicines|
|7||農圃類||Farming and horticulture|
|8-10||陰陽類||Yin and Yang|
|十神類||The Ten Spirits|