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Chinese Literature
Yelaoshu 野老書 "The Book of the Old Man in the Fields"


The Yelaoshu 野老書 "Book of the old man in the fields", also called Yelao 野老 "The old man in the fields", was a book on agriculture written by an unknown author of the late Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). The interpretation of the title follows the explanation by the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) scholar Ying Shao 應劭. A fragment of Yuan Shu's 袁淑 text Zhenyinzhuan 真隱傳 that is quoted in the Wang Yinglin's 王應麟 article Hanshu yiwen kaozheng 漢書藝文考證 from the Song period 宋 (960-1279) it is said that the author lived in the regions of Qin 秦 (modern Shaanxi) and Chu 楚 (modern Hubei). The imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 lists the book Yelao with a length of 17 chapters. The Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Ma Guohan 馬國翰 followed a statement in Ma Su's 馬驌 history Yishi 繹史 from the early Qing period where the Qin period 秦 (221-206 BCE) Counsellor-in-chief Lü Buwei 呂不韋 is seen as the father of agriculture. Ma Guohan therefore extracted some statements on agriculture in the chapter Ronglun 容論 of the book Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋 that he defined as fragments of the book Yelao. The result is to be found in his collectaneum Yuhanshanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1644. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

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June 1, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail