An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jingchuan baibian 荊川稗編

Nov 13, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Jingchuan baibian 荊川稗編 is an encyclopaedia compiled during the high Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Tang Shunzhi 唐順之 (1507-1560), courtesy name Yingde 應德 or Yixiu 義修, style Jingchuan Xiansheng 荊川先生, from Wujin 武進 (Changzhou 常州, Jiangsu).

Tang obtained the jinshi degree in 1529 and was made head of the bureau of military operations (zhifang qinglisi 職方吏司) of the province of Zhejiang, were he was entrusted with piracy control. For his successes, he was made Right Vice Censor-in-chief (you qian duyushi 右僉都御史). Later one, he was appointed governor (xunfu 巡撫) of the province of Fengyang 鳳陽. His posthumous title is Tang Xiangwenggong 唐襄文公.

Tang was a representative of the so-called Tang-Song School (Tang-Song pai 唐宋派) which favoured a refined style of literature of the more simple style of the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE). He wrote the books Guang you zhan gong lu 廣右戰功錄, Nanbei fengshi ji 南北奉使集 and Shi zuan zuo bian 史纂左編. His collected writings are called Jingchuan Xiansheng wenji 荊川先生文集.

The encyclopaedia has a size of 120 juan and imitates the structure of the more famous Shantang kaosuo 山堂考索. It quotes from a wide field of literature in order to meet the aim of presenting a comprehensive picture of each lemma. Tang was assisted by Zuo Chengxian 左烝先, but his early passing away disturbed the compilation process. Mao Yixiang 茅一相 continued the work of preparing sources for the book and helped to amend the many errors in the citations of the original draft. The countless contradictions and problems remained. The Jingchuan baibian was nonetheless included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 because of its scholarly value.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds.g (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2047.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 230-231.