An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Pinghuapu 瓶花譜

Mar 10, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Pinghuapu 瓶花譜, full title Gaojizhai dingzheng Pinghuapu 高寄齋訂正缾花譜, is a book on vase flowers written during the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Zhang Qiande 張謙德 (1577-1643), courtesy name Qingfu 青父, style Mi'an 米庵, from Kunshan 昆山, Jiangsu. He also wrote a book on contemporary painting, Qinghe shuhua fang 清河書畫舫.

The text of the 1-juan book, finished in 1595, can be divided into three parts, the first explaining types of vases (Pinping 品瓶) the second one suitable flowers (Pinhua 品花), and methods of cutting (Zhezhi 折枝), dressing (Chazhu 插貯), cultivation (Ziyang 滋養 ), appropriate (Shiyi 事宜) and inappropriate (Huaji 花忌) methods, and the third part speaks about the acquisition of vases (Huoping 護瓶).

Concerning the selection of vases, the author recommends bronze for spring and winter, and porcelain for the other seasons. The shape of the vase with narrow mouth and broad foot influenced, he says, the preservation of vital energies (qi 氣).

Zhang discerns nine classes of flowers, with orchids, peonies, plums, wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox, lamei 蠟梅), small-petal chrysanthemums, narcissus (shuixian 水仙), Yunnan camellia (? Diancha 滇茶), winter daphne (Daphne odora, ruixiang 瑞香), and Japanese rush (Acorus gramineus, changyang 菖陽) ranking at the top, and Chinese lychnis (Lychnis coronata, jianchunluo 剪春羅), silene or catchfly (Lychnis fulgens, jianqiuluo 剪秋羅), galangal (Alpinia officiarum, gaoliangjiang 高良姜), China pink (Dianthus chinensis, shiju 石菊), Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea nil, qianniu 牽牛), Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis, mugua 木瓜), and the grass Lophatherum gracile (danzhuye 淡竹葉) at the bottom.

The six taboos (liuji 六忌) were the use of water from wells, not to change the water frequently, to touch flowers with "greasy hands" (youshou 油手), access by cats and rats, burning incense close by, and closed rooms not allow for air exchange.

The Pinghuapu is included in the series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Chongding Xinshangbian 重訂欣賞編, Baoyantang miji 寶顏堂秘笈, Shuofu 說郛, Gujin shuobu congshu 古今說部叢書, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編 and Meishu congshu 美術叢書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1868.
Shu Yinglan 舒迎灡 (2002). "Pinghuapu shangxi 《瓶花譜》賞析", Yuanlin 園林 , 2002 (4): 4-5.
Yu Peizhen 虞佩珍 (1996). "Pinghuapu 瓶花譜", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Guanshang yuanyi 觀賞園藝卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 336.
Yuan Jie 袁桔 (2012). "Pingshi yu Pinghua sanshuo, Pinghuapu zhi bijiao 《瓶史》與《瓶花三說》《瓶花譜》之比較", Beifang wenxue 北方文學, 2012 (9): 56-57.
Zhang Wenhao 張文浩 (2014). "Zhang Qiande Pinghuapu tianqu meixue guannian shujie 張謙德《瓶花譜》“天趣”美學觀念疏解", Nongye kaogu 農業考古, 2014 (6): 315-322.
Zhang Wenhao 張文浩, Shen Wenfan 沈文凡 (2014). "You Pinghuapu Pinping guankui Mingdai qingya fugu meixue zhiqu 由《瓶花譜·品瓶》管窺明代清雅復古美學旨趣", Yangzhou Daxue xuebao (Renwen shehui kexue ban) 揚州大學學報(人文社會科學版), 2014 (5): 53-60.