The book Cefu yuangui 冊府元龜 "Primary [divination] tortoise of the records office" is an encyclopedia on statecraft compiled during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126). It is one of the so-called "four large books" (Song si da shu 宋四大書) of the Northern Song.
In 1005 Emperor Zhenzong 宋真宗 (r. 997-1022) ordered the scholars Wang Qinruo 王欽若, Yang Yi 楊億, Sun Shi 孫奭, Li Wei 李維, Qian Weiyin 錢惟演, Xia Song 夏竦, and others, together 15 persons, to compile an encyclopedia on statecraft, basing on historiographical sources from ancient times on to the present. The compilation team used examples from the classics and the histories, as well as older encylopedias like the Xiu wendian yulan 修文殿御覽. The original form of the sources which could either be chronological or in the biographic-thematic style of historiography (jizhuanti 紀傳體), was reshaped to fit the encyclopedic text. The countless examples were arranged in 1,104 topics (men 門) under 31 sections or chapters (bu 部). Each topic was introduced with a short preface that also stated where the reader, in first instance the emperor and his princes, should be guided to. Each section was likewise headed by an introduction. The encyclopedia was seen as a kind of instruction book for good-working rulership. It took the compilation team 8 years to finish the 1,000 juan "scrolls" long book.
The Cefu yuangui is an important source for the study of ancient Chinese government, especially that of the Tang 唐 (618-907) and Five Dynasties 五代 (907-960) periods. It contains a lot of sources from books which have been lost, and it is furthermore helpful as a text-critical source for the counter-checking if a text quoted in the Cefu has been transmitted correctly. There is an index of 10 juan length, as well as a phonetic commentary (yinyi 音義) in 10 juan, written by Sun Shi. The latter is lost.
There was a print by the Directorate of Education (guozijian 國子監) from 1015, and another print from the Northern Song period made in Sichuan. Of a Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) copy, only 8 juan survive. Fortunately enough there was a private copy from the Northern Song in the hands of Lu Xinyuan 陸心源 of which 483 juan were extant. This was revised during the Chongzhen reign 崇禎 (1628-1644), edited by Huang Guoqi 黃國琦, and is preserved in the Japanese collection of the Seikadō Studio 靜嘉堂. In 1672, there was a print made by the Wuxiu Studio 五繡堂. Master Ding from 丁氏 Ningdu 寧都 published an edition in 1754. Zhang Yuanji 張元濟 copied 444 juan of the version preserved in Japan and supplemented it with other 106 juan of fragments he had collected from private collections. It has, after some revisions, been published by the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 in 1960. This edition includes an index and a preface written by by Chen Yuan 陳垣. The Cefu yuangui is also included in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
|262.-299.||宗室部||Zongshi||The imperial house|
|300.-307.||外戚部||Waiqi||Kinsmen of empresses|
|457.-482.||臺省部||Taisheng||The central government|
|563.-596.||掌禮部||Zhangli||Control of rituals|
|597.-608.||學校部||Xuexiao||Education of state officials|
|620.-625.||卿監部||Qingjian||Supervision of officials|
|629.-638.||銓選部||Quanxu||Selection of officials|
|652.-664.||奉使部||Fengshi||Appointment of officials|
|665.-670.||内臣部||Neichen||Officials in the capital|
|716.-730.||幕府部||Mufu||Administration on campaigning|
|731.-750.||陪臣部||Peichen||Supernumerary or auxiliary officials|
|956.-1000.||外臣部||Waichen||Officials in the local administration|