An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yuanhe junxian zhi 元和郡縣志

Sep 14, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Yuanhe junxian zhi 元和郡縣志 "Treatise on all districts from the Yuanhe reign-period (806-820)", original title Yuanhe junxian tuzhi 元和郡縣圖志 "Treatise, with maps, on all districts from the Yuanhe reign" is a geographical book from the Tang period 唐 (618-907), written by Li Jifu 李吉甫 (758-814), courtesy name Hongxian 弘憲. It is the earliest extant universal geography of China. The book originally consisted of 42 juan, of which some parts may have been added later. It was finished in 813. Li Jifu also wrote a history called Liudai lüe 六代略 "A concise report of the six ages", and two administrative histories, the geographical accounting book Yuanhe guoji bu 元和國計簿, and a compendium on state offices, the Baisi juyao 百司舉要.

The Yuanhe junxian tu is divided into ten sections, each dealing with one province (dao 道 "circuit"). The sections are also divided into fourteen parts, reflecting the structure of the military defence commands (zhen 鎮). There was a map for each commandery. Below this administrative level, each prefecture and disctrict is described. The obsolete word jun 郡 "commandery" in the title is a traditional local administration unit and is used for the word zhou 州 "prefecture".

For each prefecture, the geographical circumstances, numbers of households, the main local products (including salt and iron, on the marketing of which the state possessed a monopoly), the historical development of the location, garrisons, the conditions of soil distribution, and local "touristic spots" (guji 古迹) are described.

Since the Song period 宋 (960-1279) the two index chapters and the maps are lost, as well as 6 fascicles (19-20, 22, 24, 35-36). The modern version was rearranged by the Song-period bibliographer Chen Zhensun 陳振孫 (1179-1262). This version contains not more than 34 juan (of which 18 and 25 are fragmentary). The Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Zhou Mengtang 周夢棠 added an index chapter (mulu 目錄) and collected more than 40 fragments from other sources. The same did Miao Quansun 繆荃孫 (1844-1919). Zhang Juxian 張駒賢 wrote a critical apparatus (kaozheng 考證).

The oldest print is that from the Imperial Library in the Wuying Hall 武英殿 from 1773. There are, nevertheless, some manuscript copies preserved from earlier times. A modern edition has been published by the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局 in 1983, based on the Jinling Shuju Press 金陵書局 edition from 1880, and four different manuscript versions.

Table 1. Contents of the Yuanhe junxian zhi 元和郡縣志
1-5 關内道 Circuit of Guannei
6-13 河南道 Circuit of Henan
14-19 河東道 Circuit of Hedong
20-22 河北道 Circuit of Hebei
23-25 山南道 Circuit of Shannan
26-31 江南道 Circuit of Jiangnan
32-34 劍南道 Circuit of Jiannan
35-38 嶺南道 Circuit of Lingnan
39-40 隴右道 Circuit of Longyou
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