An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zishi jinghua 子史精華

Jan 21, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Zishi jinghua 子史精華 "Pure blossoms of the masters and the historians" is an encyclopaedia compiled on imperial order during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Wu Shiyu 吳士玉 (1665-1733), Wu Xiang 吳襄, Zhang Tingyu 張廷玉 (1672-1755), Jiang Tingxi 蔣廷錫 (1669-1732), Zhang Zhao 張照 (1691-1745), and others. The compilation took place between 1721 and 1727.

The traditional literary categories of the histories and the so-called "masters" are the widest and richest. For this reason, the Kangxi Emperor 康熙帝 (r. 1662-1722) ordered to select the most important paragraphs among the writings of the two categories, in order to provide a useful handbook giving a convenient overview of these types of literature, famous statements and idioms, and often-read stories. The 160-juan-long book is divided in 30 encyclopaedic categories, with 260 sub-chapters. The quoted paragraphs are to be found as explanations to keywords, to which remarks are added for a better understanding. The Zishi jinghua has, in spite of all its strengths, been criticized for the inconvenience and inadequate arrangement of the keywords.

There is a print by the Wuying Hall 武英殿 from 1727, a print from 1892, a print by the Shanghai Tongwen Press 上海同文 from 1884, and one by the Shanghai Jicheng Tushu Press 上海集成圖書公司 from 1851. In 1991, the Beijing Guji Press 北京古籍出版社 published a reprint. The Zishi jinghua is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Table 1. Contents of the Zishi jinghua 子史精華
1-5 Heaven
6-12 The earth
13-20 帝王 Emperors and rulers
21-23 皇親 The imperial relatives
24-27 歲時 The seasons
28-36 禮儀 Ritual and etiquette
37-44 設官 State offices
45-64 政術 Government
65-71 文學 Civilian activities
72-76 武功 War
77-80 邊塞 Border affairs
81-86 倫常 Human relationship
87-96 品行 Comportment according to social status
97-104 人事 Human activities
105-106 樂部 Music
107-110 釋道 Buddhism and Daoism
111-115 靈異 Sprits and strange things
116-119 方術 Magic
120-122 巧藝 Skills and arts
123-124 形色 Comportment
125-132 言語 Language
133-134 婦女 Women
135-142 動植 Animals and plants
143-144 儀飾 Ritual tools
145-146 服飾 Adornments
147-148 居處 Buildings and living
149-150 產業 Production
151-152 食饌 Eating
153-154 珍寶 Jewels
155-160 器物 Tools and implements
Li Bingzhong 李秉忠, Wei Canjin 衛燦金, Lin Conglong 林從龍, eds. (1990). Jianming wenshi zhishi cidian 簡明文史知識詞典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 584.
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, 2059.
Pan Yinsheng 潘寅生, Guo Jiankui 郭建魁, eds. (1993). Zhonghua shehui kexue gongjushu cidian 中華社會科學工具書辭典 (Lanzhou: Gansu renmin chubanshe), 690.
Tang Guangrong 唐光榮 (2010). "Cong Peiwen yunfu, Pianzi leibian, Zishi jinghua kann Kang-Yong zhi ji de leishu bianzuan 從《佩文韻府》、《駢字類編》、《子史精華》看康雍之際的類書編纂", Tushu qingbao gongzuo 圖書情報工作, 2010 (5): 140-143.
Wang Yuguang 王余光, Xu Yan 徐雁, ed. (1990). Zhongguo dushu da cidian 中國讀書大辭典 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe), 1090.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 68.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 45.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤, ed. (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), 402-403.