An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Suihua jili 歲華紀麗

Nov 5, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Suihua jili 歲華紀麗 "Annals of the year written in beautiful language" is an encyclopaedia written during the very late Tang period 唐 (618-907) by Han E 韓鄂 (fl. 900), who is also known as the author of the agricultural book Sishu zuanyao 四時纂要.

The book imitates the structure of the encyclopaedias Beitang shuchao 北堂書鈔 and Baishi liutie 白氏六帖, but is divided into chapters reflecting the seasons and solar terms of the year (see calendar). This arrangement is reflected in the title of the book. The expression suihua is a hint at the sources which the author particularly selected for each lemma, namely refined expressions of high literature, especially such written in paired-sentence style (piantiwen 駢體文).

The Suihua liji is mentioned in the bibliographies of the Song period 宋 (960-1279), and also the Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題, but no transmitted version was known for a long time. The received version with a length of 4 juan is a print of Hu Zhenheng 胡震亨 (1569-1645), who obtained a copy from the collection of Zheng Jinbo 鄭藎伯, but Wang Shizhen 王士禎 (1526-1590) rated this copy as a forgery of Hu (see his Juyilu 居易錄). Qian Zeng 錢曾 (1629-1701) explained in his Dushu minqiu ji 讀書敏求記 that in an original manuscript of the book, many parts of the last fascicle were missing. The same was observed by Li Zhonglu 李中麓, who inspected a Song-period print. However, the alleged Song-period version includes only plain prose, and no paired phrases, and quotes from texts Duyang zabian 杜陽雜編 and Tangzhiyan 唐摭言 which Han E could not have known. Even more puzzling is Hu Zhenheng's preface in which he identifies Han E with the great writer Han Yu 韓愈 (768-824).

Quotations from the Suihua jili are found in the encyclopaedia Tang leihan 唐類函. It is included in the series Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Tang-Song congshu and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

The Suihua jili must not be confounded with Fei Zhu's 費著 Suihua jili pu 歲華紀麗譜, which is a book on the customs and habits of the region of Sichuan written during the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368).

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2036.
Wang Jinyue 王金躍 (2011). "Han E yu Suihua jili kaolüe 韓鄂與《歲華紀麗》考略", Chuancheng 傳承, 2011 (28): 74-75+88.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 225.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤, ed. (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 56.