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Dushu minqiu ji 讀書敏求記

Dec 17, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Dushu minqiu ji 讀書敏求記 "Exertions in studying [precious] books" is a bibliography written by Qian Zeng 錢曾 (1629-1701), courtesy name Zunwang 遵王, style Yeshiweng 也是翁. It records the books of the his family's library that had been founded by his father Qian Yisu 錢裔肅 (1589-1646).

During the early Kangxi reign-period 康熙 (1662-1722) he came into possession of the remainings of the books in the library of his great-grandfather Qian Qianyi 錢謙益 (1582-1664), the Jiangyun Pavillion 絳雲樓, that had burnt down (the catalogue Jiangyunlou shumu 絳雲樓書目 has survived). Qian Zeng began to collect books with the aim to reconstruct the original possessions. He listed and described the books of this revived library and compiled the catalogues Yeshiyuan cangshu mu 也是園藏書目 and Shugutang shumu 述古堂書目. An excerpt of important books in these two catalogues, with a length of 4 juan, was named Dushu minqiu ji.

The idea of it was to imitate Ouyang Xiu's 歐陽修 (1007-1072) catalogue of the best of his collected antiques, Jigulu 集古錄. The first title of this project was Shugutang cangshu mulu tici 述古堂藏書目錄題詞. It is divided according the four traditional categories of Confucian Classics, historiography, "Masters and philosophers", and belles-lettres.

The Classics section includes texts on ritual music (Liyue 禮樂), character dictionaries (Zixue 字學), phonetic dictionaries (Yunshu 韻書), calligraphy (Shufa 書法), arithmetics (Shushu 數書), and elementary learning (Xiaoxue 小學).

The historiography part encompasses ten fields, namely imperial commands to the seasons (Shiling 時令), objects of daily use (Qiyong 器用), texts on food (Shijing 食經), on gardening (Zhongyi 種藝), breeding of domestic animals (Huanyang 豢養), biographies (Zhuanji 傳記), genealogy (Pudie 譜牒), state examinations (Kedi 科第), geography (Dili yutu 地理輿圖) and "alternative records" (Bielu 別志).

The "Masters" section consists of syncretist texts (Zajia 雜家), texts on agriculture (Nongjia 農家), military matters (Bingjia 兵家), astronomy (Tianwen 天文), divination by the Five Agents (Wuxing 五行), divination by the liuren 六壬 method, divination by the taiyi 太乙 method, divination by the qimen 奇門 method, the calendar (Lifa 歷法), divination with hexagrams (Bushi 卜筮), astrology (Xingming 星命), prosopomancy (Xiangfa 相法), geomancy (the texts Zhaijing 宅經 and Zangshu 葬書), general medicine (Yijia 醫家), acupuncture and moxibustion (Zhenjiu 針灸), herbology (Bencao fangshu 本草方書), febrile diseases (Shanghan 傷寒), methods of nourishing and preserving life (Shesheng 攝生), physical and mental skills (Yishu 藝術) and encyclopaedias (Leishu 類家).

The belles-lettres section includes collections of poems (Shiji 詩集), of prose (Zongji 總集), literary critique (Shiwen ping 詩文評), lyric-metre poetry (Ci 詞), and fragments (Yiwen 佚文).

The whole catalogue lists and shortly describes 634 texts, including remarks to the edition, data to print space and its quality. This is very important for the discipline of book collecting that laid stress on the presence of excellent ancient prints or manuscripts, particularly from the Song period. Qian Zeng so compiled a catalogue that gave insight into his collection, like in a kind of museum that includes precious collectibles.

The Dushu minqiu ji was first only circulating in manuscript form, and was only printed in 1726 by Zhao Mengsheng 趙孟升. A second print was published in 1745 by Shen Shangjie 沈尚傑, and a third pre-modern edition in 1825 in the series Haishanxianguan congshu 海山仙館叢書. The first annotated edition was published in 1926 by Zhang Yu 章鈺 (1864-1937), who made corrections to Qian’s mistakes. A modern edition was published in 1983 by the Shumu Wenxian Press 書目文獻出版社. The text is also found in the series Wenxuanlou congshu 文選樓叢書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

A supplement to the catalogue was compiled by the collector Ma Yutang 馬玉堂 (c. 1815-1880), courtesy name Huzhai 笏斋, style Qiuyao 秋药 or Fufengshu Yinsheng 扶风书隐生, from Haiyan 海盐, Zhejiang. He also compiled a catalogue of his own collection of the Han-Tang Studio 漢唐齋 called Shumu jueju 書目絕句, and the Dushu minqiu xuji 讀書敏求續記.

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