An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Tangshuangpu 糖霜譜

Jun 17, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Tangshuangpu 糖霜譜 is a book on the production of sugar from sugarcane written during the Song period 宋 (960-1279) by Wang Zhuo 王灼. Wang Zhuo hailed from Sichuan, but there is not much known about his life. He has also written a collection of essays, the Bixi manzhi 碧雞漫志.

The Tangshuangpu is divided into seven chapters, of which only the first has a title (Yuanwei 原委). It described the places where sugarcane could be cultivated. The production of sugar seems to have begun during the late 8th century and was introduced by Buddhist monks from India. The second chapter deals with the name of the plant (zhe 蔗), which only appears in southern texts of the late Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). Sugar sweets (zheyi 蔗飴) were only known from the Three Empires period 三國 (220-280) on, and the term sugar (tang 糖) is first known during the Tang period 唐 (618-907). In the third chapter, Wang Zhuo described different kinds of sugarcane and their cultivation. In the fourth chapter, different tools are described for peeling and extruding the cane and breaking it. The fifth chapter describes how the liquid was boiled down to syrup and finally to crystals, and how these are stored. In the following part the reasons are listed why syrup might crystallize or not. This chapter also includes some information about the use of cane sugar at the imperial court. In the last part, Wang Zhuo explains which kind of medicine could be made of sugar, and how it was used for food.

The oldest version of the Tangshuangpu is a print of the Lianting Pavillion 楝亭. It is included in the series Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Meishu congshu 美術叢書.

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