An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yunlin shipu 雲林石譜

Sep 1, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Yunlin shipu 雲林石譜 is a book on garden rocks written during the Song period 宋 (960-1279) by Du Wan 杜綰, courtesy name Jiyang 季揚, style Yunlin Jushi 雲林居士, from Shanyin 山陰, Shanxi. His dates of life are unknown, but the preface, written by Kong Chuan 孔傳 is dated 1133. Kong explains that garden rocks with strange forms and cavities were the remains of the construction work the mythological goddess Nü Wa 女媧 exercised when she repaired the sky. The author’s own preface reveals that Du Wan was a descendent of the Tang-period 唐 (618-907) poet Du Fu 杜甫 (712-770), who once wrote a poem about fish and dragons transforming into a stone.

The book itself is divided into three juan and follows the same method as book criticizing paintings, calligraphies or poems. Thus, the first fascicles gives a ranked overview of the stones owned by Du Wan himself, while the rest of the book analyses garden rocks owned by other persons, with a total number of 115 objects.

For each type of rock, Du Wan names the place of origin, tells how the stones were brought to their final place, and describes the typical shape, colour, and extraordinary features of local types of stones. In addition to this, Du gives each type of rock a grade. He also lists various tools used to take care for or to embellish the objects.

In the original version, the Yunlin shipu was enlarged by the attachment of two texts, namely Xuanhe shipu 宣和石譜 with a list of famous garden rocks, and Yuyang Gong shipu 漁陽公石譜, which includes stories about aficionades of garden rocks. The imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 eliminated these two appendixes.

The text is found in the series Shuofu 說郛, Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Qunfang qingwan 群芳清玩, Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Siku quanshu and Meishu congshu 美術叢書.

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Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1855.
Shi Dade 施大德 (1993). "Shilin yunpu 雲林石譜", Shi Quanchang 石泉長, ed. Zhonghua baike yaolan 中華百科要覽 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 1056.
Wan Fang 萬方 (2015). "Zhonghua yawan dianji: Yunlin shipu 中華雅玩典籍——《雲林石譜》", Shuwu 書屋, 2015 (4): 1.
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Zhong Changhai 鍾長海 (2016). "Yunlin shipu qianxi 《雲林石譜》淺析", Baocang 寶藏, 2016 (3): 105.