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Yibu fangwu lüeji 益部方物略記

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Yibu fangwu lüeji 益部方物略記 "Short notes on the local biology of the province of Yi (Sichuan)" was compiled by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Song Qi 宋祁 (998-1063). Song Qi served in high positions in the central government and took part in the compilation of a lot of offical historiographic documents and books, among others, the Xintangshu 新唐書.
The Yibu fangwu lüeji was compiled with the intention to inform interested scholars into plants growing and animals living exclusively in China's western regions. The book was finished in 1057. The original version contained illustrations which are not preserved. While the main text was compiled in "poems of praise" (zan 贊), which in Chinese literature also were a kind of short critical resumée, there was an accompanying commentary in prose language. All plants and animals are described in details, their behavior, living environment, as well as the economic use. 50 kinds of plants are described, of which 6 are eatable, 11 are medical plants, and 23 are simply decorative. The others are fruit plants and such whose parts can be economically used. A lot of plants have been scientifically described for the first time in the Chinese history of science. Song Qi also treats 15 kinds of animals, of which 5 are birds, 3 mammals, and 5 fishes, 1 amphibium and 1 beetle. Two types of monkey are described for the first time. Song Qi's descriptions are very important to identify species which can not be kept apart from their name.
A great part of the Yibu fangwu lüeji is included in the collected works of Song Qi, Song Jingwen ji 宋景文集. The version included in the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 is based on an edition from the province Jiangsu of which it is not known whether it was a manuscript or a printed copy. The collectaneum Mice huihan 秘冊彙函 contains a Ming period 明 (1368-1644) version. Another important edition is that of the collectaneum Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原.


Sources: Gou Cuihua 茍萃華 (1993), "Yibu fangwu lüeji 益部方物略記提要", in Ren Jiyu 任繼愈 Gou Cuihua 茍萃華 (ed.), Zhongguo kexue jishu dianji tonghui 中國科學技術典籍通彙, Shengwu juan 生物卷 (Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 1, pp. 131-132.

November 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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