An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Qingbai leichao 清稗類鈔

May 21, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Qingbao leichao 清稗類鈔 "Categorized anthology of petty matters from the Qing period" is an anthology of historiographical essays from the whole Qing period 清 (1644-1911) compiled during the early 20th century by the writer and poet Xu Ke 徐珂 (1869-1928), original name Chang 昌, courtesy name Zhongke 仲可, from Hangxian 杭縣 (today part of Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang). He obtained the juren degree in 1889. In 1894, he entered the staff of general Yuan Shikai 袁世凱 (1859-1916), but soon left for Shanghai, where he was editor for the journals Waijiaobao 外交報 and Dongfang zazhi 東方雜誌. Apart from his encyclopaedia Qingbai leichao, Xu Ke wrote the poetry collections Lidai baihua shi xuan 歷代白話詩選 and Gujin ci xuanji ping 古今詞選集評, the literary books Xiaozilizhai wen 小自立齋文, Keyan 可言 andKangju biji 康居筆記, and has compiled the two parts of the series Tiansuge congkan 天蘇閣叢刊.

The book was finished in 1917 and published by the Shangwu Yinshu Press 商务印書館. This first edition was divided into 48 volumes in 8 series. A second edition from 1984 by the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局 comprises 13 volumes.

The Qingbai leichao includes a large amount of unofficial historiographical sources, including parts of collected writings, "brush-notes"-style (biji 筆記) essays, stories and reports from the early Chinese newspapers. It imitates the collection Songbai leichao 宋稗类鈔 not only in the idea but also in the structure. It is divided into 92 chapters (the 1984 edition in 90 chapters) that each cover a specific encyclopaedic theme, from astronomy and calendar to all aspects of statecraft like administrative geography, international relations, state rituals, educational system, military, judicial system, state offices, to human affairs like religion, matrimony, customs and habits, human character, language, handicrafts and professions, arts, literature, music, objects and tools, down to plants and animals. The whole collections includes 13,500 articles. It includes a preface by the compiler and one by Zhu Zongyuan 諸宗元 (1875-1932).

The content is extremely vast and includes all aspects of history, society, state, the arts and human life. It contains a lot of information on the Opium Wars, the Reform Movement of 1898 (Wuxu bianfa 戊戌變法) and the Revolution of 1911. The extracts and quotations from newspapers and gazettes are of special interest because they reflect the immediate reactions of society towards political matters and the discourses about contemporary issues, which are not dealt with in historiographic texts. The Qingbai leichao is not a historiographical work. That means that it does not evaluate the sources it makes use of. As a source book, nonetheless, it is a profound treasury. From this aspect, the old term yeshi 野史 "wild history" as something unofficial and therefore not reliable does not apply any more to the Qingbai leichao because it does not interpret history but only provides the historian with a lot of different sources. It is therefore a pity that the compiler did not pay more attention to an exact indicating of the origin of his sources.

Table 1. Contents of the Qingbao leichao 清稗類鈔
時令類 The seasons
氣候類 Weather
地理類 Geography
名勝類 Famous sites
宮苑類 Palaces and parks
第宅類 Buildings
園林類 Gardens and forests
祠廟類 Shrines and temples
帝德類 Imperial virtue
恩遇類 Generous treatment
巡幸類 Inspection tours
宮闈類 The women's quarters
朝貢類 Tributes to the court
外藩類 The outer barbarians
閹寺類 Eunuchs
外交類 Foreign affairs
禮制類 The structure of rites
度支類 State revenue
屯漕類 Military colonies and the Grand Canal
教育類 Education
考試類 Examination
兵刑類 Military and justice
戰事類 1-2 War
武略類 Strategy
獄訟類 1-2 Verdict and prison
吏治類 The administration of officialdom
爵秩類 Ranks and grades
幕僚類 Administrative aides
薦舉類 Appointment on recommendation
知遇類 Receiving appreciation
隱逸類 Living in seclusion
諫諍類 Frankly criticising a ruler
箴規類 Admonishing officials and giving guidelines
譏諷類 1-2 Derision
詼諧類 Humour
種族類 Ethnic groups
宗教類 Religion
婚姻類 Marriage
門閥類 Distinguished families
姓名類 Personal names
稱謂類 Designations
風俗類 Customs and habits
方言類 Topolects
農商類 Agriculture and commerce
工藝類 Crafts and industries
孝友類 Filial piety and friendship
忠盡類 Utmost loyalty
敬信類 Respect and trustworthiness
義俠類 1-2 Knights and gallants
技勇類 Skill and bravery
正直類 Correctness and straightforwardness
貞烈類 Female chastity
謙謹類 Modesty and politness
廉儉類 Honesty and austerity
狷介類 Uprightness
豪侈類 Extravagance
才辯類 Gifted eloquence
明智類 Sagaciousness
雅量類 Magnanimity
異稟類 Extraordinary talents
容止類 Demeanour
情感類 Emotions
疾病類 Illness
喪祭類 Funeral rites
師友類 Teachers and friends
會黨類 Secret societies
著述類 Authorship
性理類 Character and nature
經術類 Confucian Classics
文學類 1-2 Literature
藝術類 1-2 Arts
鑒賞類 Conisseurship
方伎類 1-2 Magic
迷信類 1-2 Superstition
方外類 Foreign matters
賭博類 Gambling
音樂類 Music
戲劇類 Jugglers
優伶類 Actors
娼妓類 1-2 Singsong girls
胥役類 Yamen runners
奴婢類 Slaves
盜賊類 Bandits
棍騙類 Swindlers
乞丐類 Beggars
動物類 Animals
植物類 1-2 Plants
礦物類 Minerals
物品類 Various articles
舟車類 Ships, boats and carts
服飾類 Clothing and adornment
飲食類 1-3 Eating and drinking
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Cui Xuan 崔旋, Huo Yanfang 霍艷芳 (2021). "Xue Ke Qingbai leichao bianzuan kaolüe 徐珂《 清稗類鈔》編纂考略", Shandong Tushuguan xuekan 山東圖書館學刊, 2021 (6): 105-109.
Guan Yimei 關伊湄 (2012). "Cong Qingbai leichao kan Qingdai dute de hunyin lifa ji tedian 從《清稗類鈔》看清代獨特的婚姻禮法及特點", Wenxue jie (Lilun ban) 文學界(理論版), 2012 (6): 213-214.
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