An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Suosuilu 瑣碎錄

Feb 14, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Suosuilu 瑣碎錄, also called Fenmen suosui lu 分門瑣碎錄 "Trifling matters arranged thematically" was an encyclopaedia compiled by Wen Ge 溫革 (jinshi degree 1115), courtesy name Shupi 叔皮, from Wenling 溫陵 close to Quanzhou 泉州 (today in Fujian), during the early 12th century. He served as assistant in the Palace Library (bishulang 祕書郎) and transport commissioner (zhuanyunshi 轉運使) of the circuit of Fujian 福建. Wen also wrote the essay collections Yinku zazhi 隱窟雜志 and Shiyou suoshuo 十友瑣說.

In the bibliography Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題, the book is categorized as a "story book" (xiaoshuoija 小說家) because it dealt with various topics. This decision was also made for Shen Kuo's 沈括 (1031-1094) famous Mengxi bitan 夢溪筆談, which is also a collection of a vast treasury of knowledge, yet based on hearsay and old, non-historiographical sources. The main difference between the two books is that Shen Kuo's text includes the author own viewpoint, which is not true for Wen Ge's encyclopaedia, which consequently quoted from older sources.

The original text was substantially enlarged by Chen Yu 陳昱 or Chen Ye 陳曄 (c. 1200), who doubled the original 20 juan to a total of 40. Chen's part is also known as Houlu 後錄. Yet the greatest part of the book and its 30 chapters was lost around 1800.

Of Ge's book, only fragments of quotations have survived from the 12 chapters on self-cultivation (Zhiji 治己), ordering one's family (Zhijia 治家), serving in office (Weiguan 莅官), agro- and sericulture (Nongsang 農桑), plant cultivation (Zhongyi 種藝), animals husbandry (Muyang 牡養), diet (Yinshi 飲食), living (Qiju 起居), clothing and jewellery (Fushi 服飾), hygiene (Sheyang 攝養), medical herbs (Yiyao 醫藥), and various diseases (Zhubing 諸病). Most outstanding among these textual fragments is a manuscript version of 57 pages that is today owned by the Shanghai Library 上海圖書館. This fragment only covers the (compound) chapter on agriculture, Nongyi men 農藝門. The chapter covers the topics farming, sericulture, arboriculture, flower cultivation, animal husbandry, and diet. The part on bamboos is quite noteworthy because it provides details hitherto not recorded.

The agriculture part of the encylopaedia seems to have been the most interesting one for contemporaries, and therefore the book is listed as an agricultural text in some book catalogues like Dong Qichang's 董其昌 (1555-1636) Xuanshangzhai shumu 玄賞齋書目 and Qian Qianyi's 錢謙益 (1582-1664) Jiangyunlou shumu 絳雲樓書目, perhaps because the rest of the book was already lost at the time, while only the part on farming survived, and circulated as a single book. The manuscript was published as a facsimile in 1962 by the Shanghai Library, and the text is found in the series Xuxiu siku quanshu. In 1995, the Shanghai Guji Press 上海古籍出版社 published a new edition of the book's remainders.

The section on medical herbs (Yiyao lei 醫藥類) has survived with a length of 3 juan in a Korean medical book called Ŭipang yuch’wi 醫方類聚 (written under the supervision of Kim Rye-mong 金礼蒙, printed in 1477), where four parts are quoted in the chapter Yangseng 養性. This book was published in 1855 in Japan in manuscript form.

Chen Xiaolan 陳曉蘭 (2019). "Suosuilu chengshu kao 《瑣碎錄》成書考", in Beijing Daxue Zhongguo Guji Wenxian Yanjiu Zhongxin jikan 北京大學中國古文獻研究中心集刊, 19.
Shu Yinglan 舒迎瀾 (1993). "Fenmen suosui lu yu qi zhongyi pian 《分門瑣碎錄》與其種藝篇", Zhongguo nongshi 中國農史, 1993 (3): 99-106.
Wang Yuhu 王毓瑚, ed. (1964). Zhongguo nongxue shulu 中國農學書錄 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 87.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 769.
Yu Ying'ao 余瀛鰲, Fu Jinghua 傅景華, eds. (1992). Zhongyi guji zhenben tiyao 中醫古籍珍本提要 (Beijing: Zhongyi guji chubanshe), 219.
Zhang Ru'an 張如安 (2015). "Xinjian Ming chaoben Fenmen suosui lu yiyaolei shulüe 新見明抄本《分門瑣碎錄》“醫藥類”述略", Ningbo Daxue xuebao (Renwen kexue ban) 寧波大學學報(人文科學版), 2015 (3): 43-46.
Zhou Zhaoji 周肇基 (1995). "Suosuilu Nongyi men 《瑣碎錄·農藝門》", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Nongye lishi 農業歷史卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 308.