An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Heyuan jilüe 河源紀略

Dec 21, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

(Qinding) Heyuan jilüe (欽定)河源紀略 "(Imperially Endorsed) Concise Records of the Sources of the Yellow River" is a geographical treatise during by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). It was compiled on imperial order under the supervision of Ji Yun 紀昀 (1724-1805).

The 36-juan long book is accompanied by a preface with poems written by the Qianlong emperor 乾隆帝 (r. 1735-1796). The text is divided into 7 chapters, the first consisting of commented maps of the area of the Yellow River's sources and beyond, far into the territory of Xinjiang. The second chapter consists of tables (liebiao 列表) providing information about the exact geographical locations of points along the course of the streams and creeks. The third chapter (Zhishi 質實) is a discussion on the various origins of the Yellow River, some of which were thought to be located as far west as Kašgar 喀什噶爾 or Yarkant 葉爾羌.

The fourth chapter (Zhenggu 證古) discusses ancient sources about the Yellow River's sources in the Kunlun Range 昆侖, the Congling Range 蔥嶺 (Pamir), Khotan and Lake Qinghai 青海. The fifth part (Bian'e 辨訛) analyses errors in ancient texts like Shanhaijing 山海經, Shiji 史記, Hanshu 漢書, Shuijingzhu 水經注 or Suishu 隋書.

The sixth part gives evidence of contemporary affairs in the Western Regions and Amdo (modern Qinghai), and the last, "miscellaneous" part is dedicated to customs and habits of the region, the climate, the landscape, stone inscriptions and historical matters.

The scholarly value of the Heyuan jilüe is considerable when compared to earlier assumptions, but the scientific findings do still not correspond to modern findings. In 1931 the book was published by the Palace Museum 故宮博物院.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1063.
Wang Zhaoming 王兆明, Fu Langyun 傅朗雲, ed. (1991), Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Dili 地理 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 218.