An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhaoyuzhi 肇域志

Aug 22, 2010© Ulrich Theobald

Zhaoyuzhi 肇域志, also called Zhaoyuji 肇域記, is a geography of China written by the philosopher and historian Gu Yanwu 顧炎武 (1613-1682), who is also known as the author of the diary-like collection Rizhilu 日知錄 and the book Tianxia junguo libing shu 天下郡國利病書. While the latter tries to gather politicial lessons from historical geography, the Zhaoyuzhi is a pure geography book.

It is based on a large amount of historiographical writings, the "veritable records" (shilu 實錄) of the Ming 明 (1368-1644) emperors, local gazetteers, collected writings, the capital gazette (dichao 邸鈔), private "brush-note" (biji 筆記) writings, and even archival sources.

The book has therefore an high value for the history of late Ming-period China, its geography, administration and society. The book was planned with a length of 100 juan, part of it serving as the text for the separately published Tianxia junguo libing shu. The Zhaoyuzhi, begun in 1639, was not finished when Gu Yanwu died, and therefore not printed.

For a long time it was believed that it only survived in a draft version owned by the Nanjing Library 南京圖書館 (in 20 volumes), but in 1957 another manuscript copy from the Tongzhi reign-period 同治 (1862-1874) was found in Kunming 昆明, Yunnan. This edition is 40-volumes (or 50-juan) long and unfinished (the provinces Northern Zhili 北直隸 [modern Hebei], Jiangxi, Sichuan and part of Guangxi are missing).

The original version had came into the possession of Xu Qingzong 許慶宗 in Hangzhou and was later copied on order of Jiang Yinfang 蔣寅昉. This version was apparently the blueprint of all later manuscript copies. Except the Yunnan Library, the Library of Sichuan Province 四川省圖書館 also owned a copy of the Jiang version, while the copy in the Shanghai Library 上海圖書館 is a revised version.

A modern edition of the book was published in 1984 by the Zhonghua Book Company 中華書局, and another one in 1995 by the Shanghai Guji Chubanshe 上海古籍出版社.

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