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Chinese Literature
Zihui 字彙 "Collection of Characters"


The Zihui 字彙 "Collection of characters" is a character dictionary whose entries are arranged according to character radicals. It was compiled by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Mei Yingzuo 梅膺祚 from 1615 on. The book is mainly based on the earlier Ming period characer dictionary Hongwu zhengyun 洪武正韻 whose entries are arranged according to rhyme groups. The Zihui does not record alternative writings and renders only one "orthodox" shape of each character. It also renounces the extreme use of ancient characters common in older dictionaries. The real merit of the Zihui is that it condensed the 540 radicals that had been established in the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220) dictionary Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 to 214 radicals. The second deepgoing restructuring of the traditional character system was that they were arranged according to stroke number, radicals written with one brush stroke at first (一丨丶丿乙亅), and the complex radical 龠 with 17 brush strokes last. The characters themselves are arranged according to the stroke number left after subtracting the radical, e.g. 卟古句 being the first characters of the radical 口, and 囔囕囖 the last. The book is divided into 12 collections (ji 集) numbered according to the terrestrial branches. The Zihui contains 33,179 characters. For each character the pronunciation is indicated first, then the meanings, with the most important meaning first. Except quotations from literature the Zihui also gives examples from colloquial language to highlight the use of words. Because Mei Yingzuo put his attention on contemporary characters and their syle of being written he adds an introdoctory chapter explaining the rules of brush strokes. At the end he adds a chapter putting side by side easily confounded characters, like 刺 and 剌. These fundamental changes served as a model for later dictionaries, as Zhang Zilie's 張自烈 Zhengzitong 正字通 and the famous Kangxi zidian 康熙字典.

Source: Zhou Zumo 周祖謨 (1988). "Zihui 字彙", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Yuyan wenzi 語言文字, p. 551. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

October 29, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail