An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Hanmo quanshu 翰墨全書

Nov 6, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Hanmo quanshu 翰墨全書, full title Xinbian shiwen leiju hanmo quanshu 新編事文類聚翰墨全書 or Xinbian shiwen leiju hanmo daquan 新編事文類聚翰墨大全, was a popular encyclopaedia compiled during the early Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) by Liu Yingli 劉應李, original name Qi 棨, courtesy name Xibi 希泌, from Jianyang 建陽, Fujian. Like the Shilin guangji, it was circulating among the urban middle class of the Ming period, but not among educated scholars, and therefore did not find entry into the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

There exist basically two versions of the book, namely the first print version from 1307 (the so-called Dading edition, Dading ben 大德本, following the designation of the reign-period of the time) with a length of 208 juan, and the alternated version of 134 juan (in 15 collections, ji 集) from 1324 that was created by Zhan Youliang 詹友諒, the Taiding edition (Taiding ben 泰定本). This version was reproduced during the very early Ming period 明 (1368-1644) in Jianyang, but in a different layout - this is the early-Ming edition (Ming-chu ben 明初本). Modern reproductions are based on the shorter Taiding edition because it is preserved in complete form.

Figure 1. Beginning of the Hanmo quanshu 翰墨全書
Early-Ming edition, reprinted in Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書. Beginning of the first fascicle discussing various types of official documents.

The Dade edition consists, according to the table of contents, of 25 chapters with many sub-chapters, but the headlines of the chapters sometimes deviate from that of the table, and the book itself consists of 28 chapters. The Ming edition added 14 geographical maps (including the Great Wall, which did not exist during the Yuan period) that are inserted at the beginning of the text. It also includes some imperial decrees not found in the Dade edition. Some chapter titles also differ from each other. The chapter arrangement differs somewhat from high-quality encyclopaedias, as astronomy, time ("Heaven") and geography ("Earth") are not the opening chapters. In their place, the chapters "various [literary] styles" (from official communication to poetry) and "common expressions in daily intercourse" introduce the handbook. The first half of the encylopaedia includes detailed information on various rites to be performed in the life cycle.

The Ming edition eliminated some ritual prescriptions dating from the Zhenghe reign-period (Zhenghe liyi 政和禮儀), and many other sub-chapters, and abbreviated some quotations from poems and prose writings. On the other hand, a text of a "Vice Prefect Luo" 羅同知 is preserved in all editions which laments about the unfair treatment by Yuan government officials of the common populace. His Huaixi xunweisi chenyan 淮西宣慰司陳言 is not included in the collected writings of the Yuan period, Quanyuanwen 全元文.

Table 1. Contents of the Hanmo quanshu 翰墨全書
諸式門 Various [literary] styles
活套門 Common expressions in daily intercourse
冠禮門 Capping rites
婚禮門 Nuptial rites
慶誕門 Congratulations for the birth (of a son)
慶壽門 Birthday congratulation
喪禮門 Funeral rites
祭禮門 Sacrificial rites
官職門 State offices
儒學門 Confucian scholarship
人品門 Classification of men
釋教門 Buddhism
道教門 Daoism
天時門 Heaven, sky, and time
地理門 Geography
人倫門 Social intercourse
人事門 Human affairs
姓氏門 Family names
第宅門 Living
器物門 Tools and objects
衣服門 Clothing
飲食門 Drinking and eating
花木門 Flowers and trees
鳥獸門 Birds and beasts
雜題門 Miscellaneous issues
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Tong Jianping 仝建平 (2010). "Hanmo quanshu bianzuan ji qi banben kaolüe 《翰墨全書》編纂及其版本考略", Tushu qingbao gongzuo 圖書情報工作, 2010 (21): 135-139.
Tong Jianping 仝建平 (2011). "Hanmo quanshu jilu de Yuanshi ziliao jiazhi shulun 《翰墨全書》輯錄的元史资料價值述論", Lanzhou Wenli Xueyuan xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 蘭州文理學院學報(社會科學版), 2011 (1): 42-45.
Tong Jianping 仝建平 (2015). "Dade ben Hanmo quanshu wenxian liyong jiazhi tanwei 大德本《翰墨全書》文獻利用價值探微", Tushuguan zazhi 圖書館雜誌, 2015 (3): 108-112.