An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xuande dingyi pu 宣德鼎彝譜

Mar 18, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Xuande dingyi pu 宣德鼎彝譜 is a book on bronze vessels (dingyi 鼎彝) from the Xuande reign-period of the Ming era. It was compiled on imperial order by Lü Zhen 呂震 (1365-1426), courtesy name Kesheng 克聲, from Lintong 臨潼, Shaanxi. His dates of life are unknown, but he lived in the first half of the 15th century and was a department vice director in the Ministry of Rites (libu yuanwailang 禮部員外郎), and later Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書).

The book of 8 juan length is accompanied by a preface written by Yang Rong 楊榮 (1371-1440) and - in the transmitted version - an afterword added by Wen Peng 文彭 (1498-1573).

The first two chapters of Lü’s book quote from imperial orders related to bronze vessels as well as memorials of the Ministry of Rites concerning the planning and the Ministry of Works (gongbu 工部) concerning raw materials.

辰州府硃砂原册三十觔今裁減六觔實該二十四觔此硃砂作鼎彛硃砂斑色 The prefecture of Chenzhou is to supply 30 jin of cinnabar according to traditional records. This will now be reduced by 6 jin to 24 jin. Used for the red colouring of bronze vessels. 梅花片石青,原册三十觔。今裁減六觔,實該二十四觔。此石青作鼎彛㸃染石青斑色用。 Slices of blue plum-blossom stone: Malachit 石綠原册三十筋今裁减六觔實該二十四觔此石綠作鼎彛㸃染石綠斑色用 Verdigris 銅綠原册三十觔今裁減六筋實該二十四觔此銅綠作鼎彛㸃染綠色脚地用 Old soot 古墨原册二十觔今裁減四觔實該一十六觔此墨作鼎彛黒漆古蟹殻青顔色用 Massicot 黃丹原册五十觔今裁減十觔實該四十觔此丹作鼎彛鉛古色腳地用 Borax 硼砂原册三十筋今裁減六觔實該二十四筋此砂作鼎彛水銀古腳地用 Calcit 方解石原册一百三十觔今裁減二十六觔實該一百零四觔 從祀名醫二十八位敕賜環耳三足鼎二十八座 倣元朝姜鑄款式。大小如圖,耳長七分,環大八分,腹深四寸七分,足高一寸三分,口圓徑八寸四分,重七兩六錢八。煉烊銅鑄成,蔵經紙色,不施金采。臣等謹按:《列仙傳》云,上古仙師以五金八石百藥煆煉成丹,濟治羣生。今以丹爐供奉先醫似為合宜。

The third fascicle includes information on raw materials ordered by the Ministry of Works, and documents about the internal discussion of the ministries of Rites and Work for the procurement of vessels for various institutions like the Military Academs xxx 武學、武成 and rituals like the sacrifices of the southern and norther suburbs.

In juan 4, names and descriptions of tripods placed in the halls of the Imperial Palace are listed, while juan 5 includes those presented by the emperor to government institutions in the two capitals and famous institutions throughout the empire. The rest of the book is dedicated to the descriptions of the vessels and their inscriptions which were newly cast on order of the imperial court. These objects could serve as models to study the particular features of ancient originals.

There is an appendix written by Xiang Yuanbian 項元汴 (1525-1590) called Xuanlu bolu 宣爐博論 which describes the bronze vessels cast by the imperial furnaces during the Xuande reign-period.

Lü’s book is included in the series Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Zhucong bielu 珠叢別錄, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Meishu congshu 美術叢書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1856.