An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xiangpu 香譜

Aug 30, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Xiangpu 香譜 "Notes on fragrances" is the title of two different books, one written by Hong Chu 洪芻, and the second by Chen Jing 陳敬, both writing during the Song period 宋 (960-1279). The latter is therefore also known as Chenshi xiangpu 陳氏香譜.

Hong Chu's 洪芻 Xiangpu 香譜

Hong Chu 洪芻, courtesy name Jufu 駒父 (jinshi degree 1094), hailed from Nanchang 南昌 (today in Jiangxi province). He was appointed "remonstrating and consulting courtier" (jianyi dafu 諫議大夫) during the Jingkang reign-period 靖康 (1126) but was sent into exile to the island of Shamendao 沙門島 (near modern Penglai 蓬萊, Shandong ), where he died. Apart from the Xiangpu, he has also written a book called Laopuji 老圃集. The 2-juan-long Xiangpu was first attributed to Hong Chu by Zuo Gui 左圭 (fl. 1273), editor of the series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海. This assumption is corroborated by a statement in Zhou Zizhi's 周紫芝 (1082-1155) Taicang timi ji 太倉稊米集 and the book catalogue Junzhai dushu zhi 郡齋讀書志 by Chao Gongwu 晁公武 (c. 1105-1180).

The first juan is divided in the chapters Xiang zhi pin 香之品 "Fragrant products" and Xiang zhi yi 香之異 "Strange fragrances". The first included describes different fragrant products, the first being the longnaoxiang 龍腦香 "dragon brain" (i.e. borneole), mentions the place of production, its appearance and scent, and how it could be used, especially in medical respect. The second chapter describes foreign and strange fragrant products, like tuwuxiang 荼蕪香 (growing on the skin), yuezhixiang 月支香 (with a long-lasting and wide-spreading odour), zhenlingxiang 振靈香 (able to revitalize the death), or manqixiang {滿-水+香}齊香 (useful to cure all diseases). The second fascicle is divided into the chapters Xiang zhi shi 香之事 "Affairs about fragrances" and Xiang zhi fa 香之法 "The use of odours". The first chapter is various matters, the second relates to histories how fragrances were used in daily life and for certain occasions.

Hong Chu's Xiangpu is quite comprehensive and was therefore included in many series, like Baichuan xuehai, Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Shuofu 說郛, Gezhi congshu 格致叢書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Yipu souqi 藝圃搜奇.

Chen Jing's 陳敬 Chenshi xiangpu 陳氏香譜

Chen Jing 陳敬, courtesy name Zizhong 子中, hailed from Henan. Not much is known about his life. The received version of his 4-juan-long Xiangpu begins with a preface written by Xiong Minglai 熊明來 in 1332. It can be said to be a summary of what earlier books on fragrances said, like Hong Chu's Xiangpu, or a book by Shen Li 沈立. It imitates the structure of the agronomical book Qimin yaoshu 齊民要術 and quotes from various books, but the selection of sources and that of quotes statements is not very representative, has often only marginally to do with odours, and is quite arbitrarily. It is, nonetheless, of a certain value because Chen Jing quotes from books that are now lost.

It is preserved as the so-called Luyou manuscript 路有鈔本, and in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Shiyuan congshu 適園叢書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1854.
蜀漢 (221-263)