An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Chuhongpu 除紅譜

Aug 31, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Chuhongpu 除紅譜, also called Sepu 色譜, is a short text on a Chinese game with dice written by Zhu He 朱河, courtesy name Tianming 天明, from the early Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279), with a preface by Yang Weizhen 楊維楨 (1296-1370).

This book is dedicated to the dice game (touxi 骰戲) and presents eleven "rules for throwing" (zhifa 擲法) and sixty-two possible combinations of pips (biaomu 標目). The word chu designates a platform or forum, or a space where the game takes place. It is first used in Du Yu's 杜預 commentary on the Classic Zuozhuan (Zhaogong 昭公 13), when Duke Zhao ordered to "clear a place" (chu di 除地) to erect an altar for the alliance ceremony. The term chuhong "clear the red" refers to a four throws of one kind (si hong 四紅) in the game, i.e. four dice with the same number of pips or dots. For counting the total number of dots, only three dice are valid. From eight points downwards all colours are "penalised" (fa se 罰色), and from thirteen points upwards all colours are rewarded (shang se 賞色), and there is no need to compete further (ju bu bi sai 俱不必賽). For results between nine and twelve points, all colours are "race colours" (sai se 賽色), except for the two colours of the "willow leaf" (liuye'er 柳葉兒) and the twelfth hour (shi'ershi 十二時).

Figure 1. Combinations of pips of the pieces of the Chuhong game
On the right page, three combinations value four points (si shang 四賞), each of them including three dice of a kind (four pips) or triplets. All other combinations value three points (san shang 三賞), each with a two doublets, including a double with four pips.

The text is found in the series Xinshangbian 欣賞編, Shuofu 說郛, Liqing congshu 麗慶叢書, Ziyuan Xiansheng quanshu 自園先生全書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.