An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Sanfu huangtu 三輔黃圖

Jul 2, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Sanfu huangtu 三輔黃圖 "Yellow [i.e. imperial] maps of the three metropolitan areas", also called Xijing huangtu 西京黃圖 "Yellow maps of the Western Capital", is a local geography of the ancient capital region around Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi). The book was compiled by an unknown author during the Southern and Northern dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600) or probably somewhat earlier. Sun Xingyang 孫星衍 (1753-1818) and Song Liankui 宋聯奎 (1870-1951) rate it as a book compiled during the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220), Chao Gongwu 晁公武 (1105-1180) as a book compiled during the Liang 梁 (502-557) or Chen period 陳 (557-589).

The original book was one juan long and later rearranged in 6 or 2 juan, depending on the edition. The book includes a lot of geographical terms used from the Jin 晉 (265-420) to the Tang periods 唐 (618-907) which demonstrates that it was, after the first version was finished, changed or enlarged.

The first part of the Sanfu huangtu is a chronological overview of the three metropolitan commanderies or areas (sanfu 三輔), namely the capital commandery Jingzhao 京兆 and the commanderies Fengyi 馮翊 and Fufeng 扶風, their political administration, a description of Xianyang 咸陽 (modern Xianyang, Shaanxi), the capital of the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206 BCE), and of Chang'an, the capital of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE).

In the second juan, the nine markets of Chang'an are described, the eight quarters and nine districts, as well as the various streets and the imperial palaces of the Han. The third juan is dedicated to the more important buildings of the Changle Palace 長樂宮, Weiyang Palace 未央宮, Jianzhang Palace 建章宮, the Northern Palace 北宮 and the Ganquan Palace 甘泉宮.

The fourth juan describes the gardens and ponds, the fifth juan terraces and pavillions, the Biyong Hall 辟雍, the Mingtang Hall 明堂, the National University (taixue 太學) and the ancestral temples, and the sixth juan various administrative institutions, warehouses and arsenals. For each building, the Sanfu huangtu provides information about its location, the shape, its history and stories around them. There is also some scattered information about earlier buildings of the region like the Lingtai Terrace 靈臺 and the Terrace Gardens 臺囿 from the Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE), as well as about buildings outside the city, like the Rihua Palace 日華宮 and the Yaohua Palace 曜華宮 of Liang 梁.

The Sanfu huangtu is included in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Guanzhong congshu 關中叢書. There are also two other editions by Bi Yuan 畢沅 (1730-1797) and by Sun Xingyan. There is a modern edition and commentary by Chen Zhi 陳直, the Sanfu huangtu jiaozheng 三輔黃圖校證, and one by He Qinggu 何清谷 called Sanfu huangtu jiaozhu 三輔黃圖校注.

Table 1. Contents of the Sanfu huangtu 三輔黃圖
1. 三輔沿革 Historical development
三輔治所 The three metropolitan commanderies
咸陽故城 The old city of Xianyang
秦宮 The palaces of the Qin
漢長安故城 The old city wall of Chang'an
秦漢風俗 Customs of the Qin and Han
都城十二門 The twelve city gates
2. 長安九市 The nine markets
長安八街 The eight boulevards
長安城中閭里 The quarters of Chang'an city
漢宮 Palaces of the Han
3. 長樂宮 Changle Palace
未央宮 Weiyang Palace
建章宮 Jianzhang Palace
北宮 The Northern Palace
甘泉宮 Ganquan Palace
4. 苑囿 Imperial parks
池沼 Lakes and ponds
5. 臺榭 The Taixie Terrace
辟廱 The Biyong School
明堂 The Bright Hall
圜丘 The Round Hill
太學 The National University
宗廟 The ancestral shrines
南北郊 The southern and northern suburbs
社稷 The altars of soil and grain
觀 Watches
6. 閣 Two-story buildings
署 Barracks
庫 Arsenals
倉 Granaries
廐 Stables
圈 Zoos
橋 Bridges
陵墓 Imperial tombs
雜錄 Miscellaneous
He Qinggu 何清谷 (1990). "Sanfu huangtu de chengshu ji qi banben 《三輔黃圖》的成書及其版本", Wenbo 文博, 1990 (5).
NN (1979). "Sanfu huangtu liu juan 《三輔黃圖》六卷", Wenxian 文獻, 1979 (12).
Wan Fang 萬方 (2018). "Zhongguo gudu jisheng duanji: Sanfu huangtu 中國古都紀勝典籍——《三輔黃圖》", Shuwu 書屋, 2018 (1).
Wang Hui 王暉 (1997). "Jingjiao xizhu yu guwu guzhi xiang kanzheng de guji zhengli xin chengguo: Sanfu huangtu jiaozhu du hou 精校細注與古物故址相勘證的古籍整理新成果——《三輔黃圖校注》讀後", Shaanxi Shifan Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban) 陝西師範大學學報(哲學社會科學版), 1997 (3).
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Yuan Mingren 袁明仁, ed. (1992). Sanqin lishi wenhua cidian 三秦歷史文化辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin jiaoyu chubanshe), 101.
Zhou Weizhou 周偉洲, Ding Jingtai 丁景泰, eds. (2006). Sichou zhi lu da cidian 絲綢之路大辭 典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi remin chubanshe), 761.