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Shuchubu 樹畜部

Feb 14, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Shuchubu 樹畜部 or Songshi shuchu bu 宋氏树畜部 "Master Song's book on arboriculture and animal husbandry" was written by Song Xu 宋詡 (c. 1500), courtesy name Jiufu 久夫, from Huating 華亭 close to Shanghai.

The book has a length of 4 juan, the first three of which are dedicated to arboriculture. The first part explains for many types of trees methods of cultivation and propagation, and then provides more information on fruit trees. Fascicle 2 highlights good cultivation methods for flowers, bamboos, and reed, while the third chapter focuses on the "five grains" (wugu 五穀) and legumes, as well as methods of field arrangement and preparation. Animal husbandry is the topic of the last chapter. It deals with silkworms, mammals, birds, fishes, and bees.

The book is particularly noteworthy because Song Xu did not copy a lot of phrases from older texts, as was usual for academic writing in traditional China, but rather compiled his text as based on his own practical experience. The text is therefore especially detailed on sugarcane (ganzhe 甘蔗) and highlights aspects not mentioned in the standard book on this field, Wang Zhuo's 王灼 (1105-1160?) Tangshuangpu 糖霜譜. The same is true for the many different steps of work to be done between the sowing and the harvesting of wet rice.

Unfortunately, the arrangement of the text is somewhat confuse. Song takes sugarcane, water chestnut (ling 菱), and water lily (qian 芡) into the fruit tree section, and adds cotton to the flowers chapter. In the animals chapter, Song Xu also integrated wild-living bird species that are usually not domesticated.

The oldest print dates from 1504. It is included in the mixed collection Zhuyu Shanfang zabu 竹嶼山房雜部 that was compiled by the author's grandson Song Maocheng 宋懋澄 (1569-1620). Text is also is also found in the series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海. In the series Sanxu baichuan xuehai 三續百川學海, some parts of Song Xu's book are presented as books of their own.

Sources:
Nongye da cidian bianji weiyuanhui 《農業大詞典》編輯委員會, ed. (1998) Nongye da cidian 農業大詞典 (Beijing: Zhongguo nongye chubanshe), 1525.
Wang Yuhu 王毓瑚, ed. (1964). Zhongguo nongxue shulu 中國農學書錄 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 136.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 616.
Zhou Zhaoji 周肇基 (1995). "Chuchubu 樹畜部", in Zhonguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Nongye lishi 農業歷史卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 296.