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Chinese Literature
Sheshu 射書 "The Book of Archery"


The Sheshu 射書 "Book on Archery" is a book on archery written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Gu Yu 顧煜, courtesy name Gu Mingbai 顧銘柏, style Xishen juepu 西神矍圃. He came from Wuxi 無錫, Jiangsu, but his dates of life are unclear. His 4 juan "scrolls" long book is a collection of quotations on the art of shooting in ancient times. The text begins with a comment to the rules of shooting from the military examinations (Wuke zhizhao shuyi 武科制詔疏議), followed by descriptions of the "standards of archery" (shefa 射法), the "modes of shooting" (sheshi 射式), mounted archery (mashe 馬射) and certain rituals of archery (sheli 射禮). Among the paragraphs quoted in the first two chapters, a lot of texts are marked as "secretly received" (mi shou 秘授), so that it remains unclear from which source the author obtained his information. The chapter of "rituals" quotes from the rules for archery from the military examination, but also from older texts like the Confucian Classics Zhouli 周禮, Yili 儀 and Liji 禮記, or Wu-Yue chunqiu 吳越春秋, Baihutong 白虎通, the encyclopedia Chuxueji 初學記, or Yuan Huang's 袁黃 Bingzhi kao 兵志考, Huang Daozhou's 黃道周 Mazhengkao 馬政考 or Lao Kan's 勞堪 Mashuo 馬說, and also old poems.
A print from the Chongzhen reign 崇禎 (1627-1644) was once owned by the Beiping Library 北平圖書館, but it went lost during the Sino-Japanese War.
Another book with the title Sheshu is listed in the bibliographic chapter of Zheng Qiao's 鄭樵 statecraft encyclopedia Tongzhi 通志 and that of the official dynastic history Songshi 宋史. It was written by Xu Kai 徐锴, a specialist of the dictionary Shuowen jiezi 說文解字, and Ouyang Mo 歐陽陌. The 15 juan long book is lost.
A chapter of the late Ming scholar Guan Fuzhen's 官撫辰 collection Yunhong donggao 雲鴻洞稿 was also called Sheshu. Because the collection was prohibited from circulation from the late Qianlong reign 乾隆 (1736-1795) on, the Sheshu and the chapters Huojing 火經 "Fire (arms?) classic" and Qishu 器書 "Book of tools" went lost.


Sources:
He Qinggu 何清谷 (2000). "Sheshu 射書", in: Zhonghua Qin wenhua cidian 中華秦文化辭典, Zhonghua Qin wenhua cidian bianweihui 中華秦文化辭典編委會 (ed.), Xi'an: Xibei daxue chubanshe, p. 334.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1823.


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October 26, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail