An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yuanjian leihan 淵鑒類函

Jan 21, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Yuanjian leihan 淵鑒類函 (also written 淵鑑類函) "Categorized boxes of the Yuanjian Studio" is an enyclopaedia compiled on imperial command during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Zhang Ying 張英 (1637-1708) and Wang Shizhen 王士禎 (1634-1711).

Zhang Ying took also part in the compilation of the imperial geography Da-Qing yitong zhi 大清一統志, the political handbook Zhengzhi dianxun 政治典訓, and the military annals of the campaign against Galdan, Pingding Shuomo fanglüe 平定朔漠方略. His collected writings are published in the books Dusutang wenji 篤素堂文集 and Cunchengtang shiji 存誠堂詩集. Wang Shizhen has written a lot of books, among others Juyilu 居易錄, Chibei outan 池北偶談, Xiangzu biji 香祖筆記, Huanghua jiwen 皇華紀聞, Yuyang wenlüe 漁洋文略, Zaishu tushi 載書圖詩, Tang xian sanwei ji 唐賢三味集, and Wudai shihua 五代詩話.

Figure 1. Page of the Yuanjian leihan 淵鑒類函
Reprint by Tongwen Tushuguan 同文圖書館, 1917.

The Yuanjian leihan, with a length of 450 juan, was finished in 1710. Yuanjian "Profound Mirror" was the name of a study in the imperial palace. The name leihan "categorized boxes" is derived of a Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) anthology of ancient encylopaedic entries, the Tang leihan 唐類函 compiled by Yu Anqi 俞安期 (fl. 1596). The Tang leihan included quotations from the Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚, Chuxueji 初學記, Beitang shuchao 北堂書鈔 and Baishi liutie 白氏六帖, but no quotations from poetry and belles-lettres in prose. The Kangxi Emperor 康熙帝 (r. 1662-1722) therefore ordered Zhang to supplement quotations from the encyclopaedias Taiping yulan 太平御覽, Yuhai 玉海, Shantang kaosuo 山堂考索 and Tianzhongji 天中記, as well as from literary sources and histories. Zhang Ying expanded the categories to 45, with 2,536 sub-chapters in total.

The arrangement of the encyclopaedia is very clear and lucid and it is easy to read. The original paragraphs of the Tang leihan and those added by Zhang Ying are marked as such. For each entry, a stringent pattern has been used to highlight the use and meaning of a word. First, dictionaries and other writings served to explain the meaning. Secondly, quotations from different kinds of literature present literary allusions, arranged chronologically. Thirdly, word composita (dui'ou 對偶) are listed with their meaning. Fourthly, exemplary sentences from poems and rhapsodies are presented, and finally whole poems and small texts. Compared to the often-used encyclopaedia Taiping yulan from the Song period 宋 (960-1279), the Yuanjian leihan is a much richer treasury of ancient literature.

There is a print by the Imperial Household from 1710, and a downscaled copy of the Guxiang Studio 古香齋 made by the Wuying Hall 武英殿 in 1748. A reprint has been made during the Guangxu reign-period 光緒 (1875-1908) by Master Kong's 孔氏 Sanshiyousanwanjuan Studio 三十有三萬卷堂 and the Dianshi Studio 點石齋 in Shanghai. In 1887, the Shanghai Tongwen Press 上海同文書局 published a reprint, and again in 1916, published by the Tongwen Library 同文圖書館. In 1932, the Saoyeshanfang Studio 掃葉山房 in Shanghai published a new reprint. The Yuanjian leihan is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Table 1. Contents of the Yuanjian leihan 淵鑒類函
1-11 天部 Heaven
12-22 歲時部 The seasons
23-39 地部 The earth
40-56 帝王部 Emperors and rulers
57-58 后妃部 Empresses and consorts
59 儲宮部 Palaces
60 帝戚部 Imperial relatives
61-117 設官部 State offices
118-121 封爵部 Titles of nobility
122-153 政術部 Governance
154-183 禮儀部 Rites and etiquette
184-191 樂部 Music
192-205 文學部 Written communication and literature
206-229 武功部 Warfare
230-241 邊塞部 Border affairs and foreign nations
242-315 人部 Human affairs
316-317 釋教部 Buddhism
318-319 道教部 Daoism
320-321 靈異部 Spirits and supernatural things
322-323 方術部 Magic and prognostication
324-331 巧藝部 Skills and arts
332-333 京邑部 The capital and the cities
334-339 州郡部 Local administration
340-354 居處部 Buildings and living
355-358 產業部 Production
359-360 火部 Fire
361-364 珍寶部 Jewels and precious materials
365-366 布帛部 Textiles
367-369 儀飾部 Ritual and ceremonial instruments
370-381 服飾部 Adornments
382-385 器物部 Tools and instruments
386 舟部 Boats
387 車部 Carts
388-393 食物部 Diet
394-395 五穀部 The five grains
396-397 藥部 Medical herbs
398 菜蔬部 Vegetables
399-404 果部 Fruits
405-407 花部 Flowers
408-411 草部 Herbs
412-417 木部 Trees
418-428 鳥部 Birds
429-436 獸部 Beasts
437-444 鱗介部 Scaly animals
445-450 蟲豸部 Worms and insects
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He Jun 何軍 (1993). "Yuanjian leihan 淵鑒類函", in Shi Quanchang 石泉長, ed. Zhonghua baike yaolan 中華百科要覽 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 603.
He Shihai 何詩海, Hu Zhongli 胡中麗 (2021). "Yuanjian leihan yu Qingchu wenxueguan 《淵鑑類函》與清初文學觀", Jiang-Huai luntan 江淮論壇, 2021 (5): 12-19+193.
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Zhao Hankun 趙含坤, ed. (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 381-382.