An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xiyang chaogong dianlu 西洋朝貢典錄

Sep 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Xiyang chaogong dianlu 西洋朝貢典錄 is a book on the tribute missions of "western" countries (from the Chinese perspective) during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). The 3-juan long book was compiled by Huang Shengzeng 黃省曾 (1490-1540), courtesy name Mianzhi 勉之, style Wuyue 五岳. He hailed from Wuxian 吳縣 (today's Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu) and obtained the juren degree in 1531.

The term xiyang 西洋 "western ocean" refers to countries on the martitime route from China to the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, but it is not used in a very exact way, because states in the South China Sea or the Strait of Malacca, are located in the "eastern ocean" (Dongyang 東洋), and not the western one. The book, finished in 1520, is divided into 23 chapters, each narrating the circumstances of one country, beginning with Champa (Zhancheng 占城) in today's Cambodia, and ending with Meccah (Tianfang 天方). Yet some chapters are enlarged by appendixes giving information on further states. The sequence of the chapters more or less corresponds to the route which Zheng He 鄭和 (1371-1433) once took in the early 15th century.

Each chapter describes the capital city, the distance to China, indications as to the compass points, routes inside the country, topography, customs and habits, local products ("tribute products" gongpin 貢品 like "bright-moon pearls" mingyue zhu 明月珠), "crow-pigeon stones" yahu shi 鴉鶻石) or "dragon-saliva incense" longxian xiang 龍涎香), the language, and the clothes of the local population. It is therefore much more detailed than the respective chapters in the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史, yet much of the material (barring the one or other place name) is also seen in other books, like Zheng He xia Xiyang 鄭和下西洋, Xingcha shenglan 星槎勝覽 or Yingya shenglan 瀛涯勝覽, and quite probably also the navigation book Zhenwei 針位 (today lost).

The book is included in the reprint collections (congshu 叢書) Biexiazhai congshu 別下齋叢書, Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀, Yueyatang congshu 粵雅堂叢書, Zhihai 指海, and was reprinted in 1863 by the Hanfenlou Studio 涵芬樓 in Shanghai. Another print is included in the reprint series Jieyueshanfang huichao 借月山房彙鈔 (commented reproduction by Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局 1981). A manuscript version by Qian Qianyi 錢謙益 also survives.

Table 1. Contents of the Xiyang chaogong dianlu 西洋朝貢典錄
卷上 1 占城國 Zhancheng (Champa, south of modern Vietnam)
2 真臘國 Zhenla (modern Cambodia)
3 爪哇國 Guawa (Java)
4 三佛齊國 Sanfoqi (Samboja, Srivijaya, Sumatra)
5 滿剌加國 Manlajia (Malacca)
6 浡泥國 Boni (on Kalimantan Island)
7 蘇祿國 Sulu (an archipelago south of the Philippines)
8 彭亨國 Pengheng (in modern Malaysia)
9 琉球國 Liuqiu/Ryūkyū Islands
卷中 10 暹羅國 Jinluo (Siam, modern Thailand)
11 阿魯國 Alu (area of the "Rili" River 日里河 in modern Sumatera)
12 蘇門答臘國 Sumendala (island of Sumatera)
13 南浡里國 Nanboli (Lamuri in Sumatera)
14 溜山國 Liushan (Maldive Islands)
15 錫蘭山國 Xilanshan (Ceylon, modern Sri Lanka)
16 榜葛剌國 Bangela (Bengal)
卷下 17 小葛蘭國 Xiao Gelan (Kulam or Quilon in southern India)
18 柯枝國 Kezhi (Cochin in southern India)
19 古里國 Guli (Calicut in southern India)
20 祖法兒國 Zufa'r (Zufar or Dhofar in Arabia)
21 忽魯謨斯國 Hulumosi (modern Hormuz, near Abbas in Iran)
22 阿丹國 Adan (Aden in Arabia)
23 天方國 Tianfang (Mecca)
He Yujie 賀玉潔 (2018). "Zai lun Huang Shengzeng Xiyang chgoaong dianlu 再論黃省曾《西洋朝貢典錄》", Shixue lunli yanjiu 史學理論研究, 2018 (4).
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