The Libu yunlüe 禮部韻略 "Concise rhymes from the Ministry of Rites" is a dictionary with characters arranged phonetically according to a rhyme system. It was compiled on imperial order by the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) scholar Ding Du 丁度 and was finished in 1037. It was develepod from a draft written during the reign of Emperor Zhenzong 宋真宗 (r. 997-1022) called Yunlüe 韻略 because it was shorter and more concise than contemporary dictionaries like the Jiyun 集韻 or Guangyun 廣韻 because it was to be used for the preparation of the state examinations. These examinations were conducted by the Ministry of Rites.
Figure 1. Beginning of the Libu yunlüe
Beginning of the (Fu shiwen huzhu
) Libu yunlüe
(附釋文互註)禮部韻略, Sibu congkan xubian
四部叢刊續編 edition, reproducing a Song period pring from the collection of the family Qu 瞿氏 from Changshu 常熟, Jiangsu (Tieqin Tongjian Studio 鐵琴銅劍樓). Click to enlarge.
The Libu yunlüe contains 9,590 characters arranged in 206 rhyme groups. The book has never attracted a wide scholarly interest because the rhyme groups are identical to the Jiyun, and like the Jiyun, it remarks if a rhyme is used for one factual rhyme group alone (duyong 獨用) or as a unifier for several obsolete rhyme groups (tongyong 統用, 同用).
The original dictionary is lost, but two versions of 5 juan of length survive. The first version has two prefaces, the first was written by Yuan Wenyu 袁文焴 in 1230, the second by Guo Shouzheng 郭守正 in 1264. This version, the commentary to which was compiled by Ouyang Xiude 歐陽德隆, is called Fu shiwen huzhu Libu yunlüe 附釋文互注禮部韻略 or Zengxiu jiaozheng yayun shiyi 增修校正押韻釋疑, contains phonetic explanations in the official language (guanhua 官話, hence called guanzhu 官注 "official notes"), as well as remarks to it (huzhu 互注 "mutual comment") in respect to the vernacular language.
The appendix of this version includes remarks to characters which have two different pronunciations, but with the same meaning (zi tong yi er you liang yin 字同義而有兩音), characters with a very similar, but different, meaning which were used wrongly in the the Classics and their standard commentaries (zi yi bu tong er jing-zhuan duo wu yong 字義不同而經傳多誤用), characters often used in the Classics, but not included in the original version of the Libu yunlüe, and characters or phrases which were wrongly believed to include a taboo character (personal name of an emperor).
Quotation 1. Examples from the appendix of the Yuan/Guo/Ouyang edition of the Libu yunlüe
||The character 攻 has two readings, namely /kuŋ/ (rhyme group 東, level-tone first group) and /kuoŋ/ (rhyme group 冬, level-tone first group). Both mean "to check", "to attack".
||The character 猒 is pronounced /jĭɛm/ (rhyme group 鹽, level-tone second group) and means "to eat one's full". 厭 is pronounced /jĭɛm/ (rhyme group 豔, falling-tone group) and means "sufficient". 饜 is [likewise] pronounced /jĭɛm/ (rhyme group 豔, falling-tone group) and means "satisfied".
There is another version surviving with the same size. It was revised and commented by the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Mao Huang 毛晃. It was printed by his son Mao Juzheng 毛居正 in a text-critical edition under the title Zengxiu huzhu Libu yunlüe 增修互注禮部韻略 and submitted to the throne in 1162. It contains 2,655 characters more than the original, as well as 1,691 character variants (called juanzi 圈字 because they were marked with a circle). This version is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu. There are no modern prints of the Yunlüe.
In 1252 Liu Yuan 劉淵 published a revised edition of the Liubu yinlue, the Renzi xinkan Libu yunlüe 壬子新刊禮部韻略. In this version the number of rhyme groups was diminished to 107, in accordance with the rhymes factually used. This edition demonstrates the simplification of the phonology of late Middle Chinese.
The Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholars Huang Gongshao 黃公紹 and Xiong Zhong 熊忠, authors of the 古今韻會舉要, eliminated a further rhyme (拯 rhymes included into the group 迥) to a structure of 106 rhymes (the so-called Pingshui rhymes 平水韻, see Guangyun rhymes 廣韻). This system was to serve as the basic rhyme system for modern Chinese that was in use until the end of the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). It is adopted in Qing period books like the Peiwen yunfu 佩文韻府.