An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jile 雞肋

Feb 7, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Jile 雞肋 "Chicken ribs" is a small encyclopaedia written during the Song period 宋 (960-1279) by Zhao Chongxun 趙崇絢 (late 12th cent.), who was a member of the imperial family and the son of Zhao Rukuo 趙汝适 (1170-1228), author of the geographical treatise Zhufanzhi 諸蕃志.

The Leji is an unsystematic compilation of various informations collected by the author. Although not of great importance, it would be a pity to throw those informations away, just like chicken ribs which are not very tasty but still worth being consumed. Some examples of Zhao Chongxun's collected knowledge on petty matters are the name Yuhuan 玉環, once serving to denote a pipa lute of emperor Tang Ruizong 唐睿宗 (r. 684, 710-712), and also the personal name of concubine Yang Guifei 楊貴妃 (719-756); or the story of Zhou Yafu 周亞夫 (d. 143 BCE), who starved to death, as certain wrinkles in his face had predicted (prosopomancy), while Chu Luo 褚羅, with the same appearance in his face, lived a long life. Zhao lists some persons of the same name, and reports many stories like that of Xiao Yu's 肖詧 bad wife, or of Liu Yong's 劉邕 sickness. Also later scholars rated the stories and facts included in the Jile as worth preserving, although not of great historiographic value.

The Leji is therefore included in the series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Zhucong bielu 珠叢別錄 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

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. 2, 2041.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤, ed. (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 141.