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Yin Duwei shu 尹都尉書

May 31, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Yin Duwei shu 尹都尉書 "Book of Commander Yin", also called Yin Duwei 尹都尉, was an agricultural text written by a certain Master Yin 尹氏, whose identity is less than clear. It is also not known when he lived. The book is listed in the imperial bibliography Yiwen zhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 with a length of 14 chapters. However, the bibliographical chapter of the official dynastic history Xintangshu 新唐書 lists the text as with a length of 3 juan.

The book was soon lost, but the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Ma Guohan 馬國翰 has collected surviving fragments of the Yin Duwei, mostly from the agricultural treatise Qimin yaoshu 齊民要術. The fragments cover the themes melons (gua 瓜), mallows (kui 葵), mustard (jie 芥), polygonum (liao 蓼), shallots (xie 薤) and onions (cong 蔥). From these fragments is is not clear if Yin Duwei and Yin Duwei shu were two books or one and the same.

The author of the book might be mentioned in a fragment of the Han-period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) book Fan Shengzhi shu 汜勝之書 that is quoted in the Qimin yaoshu, where it is said that a certain Yin Ze 尹澤 had created a "method concerning salt" (xianfa 鹹法) that is mentioned in relation to the yields of certain classes of soil. Yin Ze lived in the early Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE), but that is all that can be known about him.

The surviving fragments show that the book was concerned with methods of planting and transplanting, cultivation and harvest. Ma Guohan's collection is included in his reprint series Yuhanshanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書.

Sources:
Gao Liushui 高流水 (1996). "Yin duwei 尹都尉", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, eds. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 447.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1644.
Wang Yuhu 王毓瑚, ed. (1964). Zhongguo nongxue shulu 中國農學書錄 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 7.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 165.