An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yuanliu zhilun 源流至論

Dec 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Yuanliu zhilun 源流至論 "Exhausting discussion of all developments" is a series of four encyclopaedic collections compiled during the late Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Lin Dong 林駧 (also written Lin Jiong 林駉) and Huang Lüweng 黃履翁. Lin is the author of the first three collections (qianji 前集, houji 後集, xuji 續集), and Huang that of the fourth, supplementary collection (bieji 別集). Each of the collections has a length of 10 juan.

Because of the sequential compilation in different parts, the encyclopaedia is also called Gujin yuanliu zhilun 古今源流至論 "Exhausting discussions of all developments from the past and the present". The aim of the Yuanliu zhilun was to provide a handbook to terms of the Confucian classics, the books of history and that of the various "masters and philosophers", and especially the Neo-Confucians, in a comparative perspective. With the help of his records, Lin Dong wanted to compare congruences and contradictions between the various texts, as a preparation for the state examinations. The book also contains a lot of information on the state rituals and the state constitution of the Song period and is therefore of great importance for the study of this field. The first few lemmas are Taiji lun 太極論 "the discourse of the Utmost Extreme", Ximing 西銘 "The Western Inscription", xingxue 性學 "the teaching of human nature", xinxue 心學 "the teaching of the human mind", zhong 中 "the centre, the mean" and ren 仁 "kindness".

The book has been compiled after 1085, when the state examinations did not any more include tests on poetry, but replaced it with a political essay (celun 策論). The knowledge of the state and its institutions therefore was essential for success in the examinations, and a lot of students compiled their own handbooks during the preparation.

There is a print by Zhang Muyuan 張目元 from the Yanyou reign-period 延祐 (1314-1320), another print from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) preserved in the Zhenqi Studio 振綺堂, and the edition in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 2042.
Wen Zhiba 溫志拔 (2016). "Zhishi shehui shi zhong de Nansong leishu: Yi Gujin yuanliu zhilun wei zhongxin 知識社會史中的南宋類書 ——以《古今源流至論》為中心", Fujian Shifa Fuqing Xuexiao xuebao 福建師大福清分校學報, 2016 (3): 1-7.
Xu Zhenxing 許振興 (2000). "Gujin yuanliu zhilun zhong de Songdai Baoxun yiwen 《古今源流至論》中的宋代《寶訓》佚文", Guji zhengli yanjiu xuekan 古籍整理研究學刊, 2000 (4): 53-60.
Yang Li 楊莉 (2022). "Gujin yuanliu zhilun ping Wencui xuanlu shiwen biaozhun qiantan 《古今源流至論》評《文粹》選錄詩文標準淺探", Zuojia tiandi 作家天地, 2022 (22): 52-54.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 120-121.