An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yugong zhuizhi 禹貢錐指

Dec 21, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Yugong zhuizhi 禹貢錐指 "Surveyance (of the empire) by the Tribute of Yu" is a commentary on the chapter Yugong 禹貢 of the Confucian Classic Shangshu 尚書 written by Hu Wei 胡渭 (1633-1714), original name Weisheng 渭生, courtesy name Feiming 朏明, style Dongzhai 東樵. Hu had participated in the compilation of the imperial geography Da-Qing yitong zhi 大清一統志 and was therefore familiar with the geography of China.

Based on this experience he analysed the ancient text of the Yugong and tried to identify modern places as the spots mentioned in this old text. His Yugong zhuizhi is 20-juan long (some juan are split up into several parts, so that the book is in fact 26-juan long) and includes a separate fascicle with 47 maps, mostly reproductions of Ai Nanying's 艾南英 (1583-1646, courtesy name Qianzi 千子, style Tianyongzi 天傭子) Yugong tuzhu 禹貢圖注. The title is derived from a saying in the Daoist writing Zhuangzi 莊子 where the philosopher riducules those "aiming at [the earth] with an awl" (zhui zhi 錐指). Hu's text is concerned with the critique of ancient commentaries on the Yugong.

Hu Wei used additional sources to underline correct identifications and to amend errors in earlier texts. His book was finished in 1702. It is so exact that it does not only describe mountains and rivers in the "nine provinces" (jiuzhou 九州), but also passes and plains, commanderies and places of interest. The chapter Yihe 異河 "Anomalies of the Yellow River" is dedicated to the five changes of the course of this large river that dominated the life of the peasants in northern China. It is even very important as a source for modern historians' efforts to reconstruct and explain these changes. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 called the Yugong zhuizhi the "crown" of all commentaries on the chapter Yugong. Nevertheless it contains some errors that were later corrected by Wei Yuan 魏源 (17941857, Shu guwei 書古微) and Li Ciming 李慈銘 (1830-1895, Xiangqinshi riji 祥琴室日記).

The Yugong zhuizhi is found in the series Huang-Qing jingjie 皇清經解 and Siku quanshu.

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