An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚

Jul 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚 "Classified collection based on the Classics and other literature" is an encyclopaedia from the Tang period 唐 (618-907) written by on imperial order by a team of ten compilers, headed by Ouyang Xun 歐陽詢 (557-641), Linghu Defen 令狐德芬 (583-666), Yuan Lang 袁朗 and Zhao Hongzhi 趙宏智.

The encyclopaedia has a length of 100 juan and was finished in 624. It is divided into 46 parts and covers 727 topics. The particular articles quote from 1,431 books from all kinds of literature. Its value lies in the vast amount of literature quoted. Eighty percent of these books are only preserved in quotations of the Yiwen leiju, like Xie Cheng's 謝承 (d. 256) Houhanshu 後漢書, Yuan Shansong's 袁山松 (d. 401) Houhanshu 後漢書, Wang Yin's 王隱 (c. 280-c. 350) Jinshu 晉書, Pei Qi's 裴啟 Yulin 語林 or Guo Chengzhi's 郭澄之 Guozi 郭子. For each paragraph, the Yiwen leiju indicates the source, in the case of poetry also the name of the author, the date and the particular type of poem (shi 詩 "regular poem", fu 賦 "rhapsody" or zan 贊 "eulogy"). In spite of all these important strengths, the arrangement of the chapters is not in all points excellent, especially in the question under which chapter some entries appear.

Quotation 1. Examples from the Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚 to the lemma tou 頭 "head"
說文曰.首.頭也. The [dictionary] Shuowen jiezi says, "capitulum" (shou) means "head" (tou).
釋名曰.頭.獨也.體高而獨也.首.始也. The [glossary] Shiming says, "head" (tou) means, "singular" (du), namely the highest and singular part of the body. "Capitulum" (shou) is the "beginning" (shi).
黃帝素問曰.頭者精明之主也. The [medical] text Huangdi suwen says, the head ist the master of essence and clarity.
易說卦曰.乾為首. The Yi shuogua (explanations to the Yijing 易經 hexagrams) says, qian (Heaven) is the origin.
毛詩曰.螓首蛾眉. The Book of Songs says, "her forehead cicada-like; her eyebrows like the silkworm moth".
禮斗威儀曰.君乘火而王.其民銳頭.君乘水而王.其民大頭. The apocryphal text Li douwei yi says, if a king uses fire to rule, his people's heads have pointed heads; if he uses water to rule, his people has large heads.
春秋元命苞曰.頭者.神所居.上圓象天. The apocryphal text Chunqiu yuanming bao says, the head is, where the spirit resides. Its roundness above resembles Heaven.
晏子曰.湯長頭而髯鬢. The Yanzi chunqiu 晏子春秋 says, Tang the Perfect had a lengthy head with a long beard and long hair at the temples. (N.B. The transmitted version goes 湯質皙而長,顏以髯, holding that he also had a fair complexion.)

There was a print from the mid-12th century. A moveable character print was made by the Lanxue Studio 蘭雪堂 of Master Hua 華氏 in 1515, a small-character print in 1528 by Hu Zanzong 胡纘宗, another print by the Zongwen Studio 宗文書堂 of Master Zheng 鄭氏 in 1530, and a reprint of the small-character edition in 1549 by Zhang Song 張松. The Hongda Studio 宏達堂 of Wang Yuanzhen 王元貞 printed the Yiwen leiju in 1879. Modern reprints were published in 1959 by the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局, in 1965 by the same press, as an edition revised by Wang Shaoying 汪紹楹, and in 1981 by the Shanghai Guji pPress 上海古籍出版社, with an index.

The Yiwen leiju is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Table 1. Contents of the Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚
1.-2. 天部 Heaven
3.-5. 歲時部 Seasons and time
6. 地部,州部,郡部 Geography. Provinces. Commanderies
7. 山部上 Mountains A
8. 山部下 Mountains B
水部上 Water A
9. 水部下 Water B
10. 符命部 Imperial orders
11.-14. 帝王部 Rulers
15. 后妃部 Imperial consorts
16. 儲宮部 Palaces
17.-37. 人部 The human world
38.-40. 禮部 Rites
41.-44. 樂部 Music
45.-50. 職官部 State offices
51. 封爵部 Titles of nobility
52.-53. 治政部 Government
54. 刑法部 Penal law
55.-58. 雜文部 Miscellaneous literature
59. 武部 Military
60. 軍器部 Weapons
61.-64. 居處部 Architecture
65.-66. 產業部 Production
67. 衣冠部 Clothes and caps
68. 儀飾部 Ritual adornment
69.-70. 服飾部 Clothing adornment
71. 舟車部 Boats and carts
72. 食物部 Food
73. 雜器物部 Miscellaneous tools and objects
74. 巧藝部 Skills and arts
75. 方術部 Magic
76.-77. 內典部 The inner canon
78.-79. 靈異部 Souls and spirits
80. 火部 Fire
81. 藥香 Medicine and scents
草部上 Herbs A
82. 草部下 Herbs B
83.-84. 寶玉部 Jewelry
85. 百穀部 Textile fibres
布帛部 Textile fibres
86.-87. 果部 Fruits
88.-89. 木部 Trees
90.-92. 鳥部 Birds
93.-95. 獸部 Beasts and mammals
96. 鱗介部上 Scaly animals A
97. 鱗介部下 Scaly animals B
蟲豸部 Worms and creeping, and furry animals
98.-99. 祥瑞部 Omina and portents
100. 災異部 Natural disasters and strange phenomena
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