An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Dianzhi 滇志

Oct 9, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Dianzhi 滇志 "Records of Dian (Yunnan)" is a local gazetteer on the province of Yunnan compiled during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Liu Wenzheng 劉文征 (also written 劉文徵, 1555-1626), courtesy name Maoxue 懋學, style Youwu 右吾.

The oldest geographical descriptions of this province are (Jingtai) Yunnan tujing zhishu (景泰)雲南圖經志書, (Zhengde) Yunnan zhi (正德)雲南志, (Wanli) Yunnan tongzhi (萬曆)雲南通志 and Xie Zhaozhi's 謝肇淛 Dianlüe 滇略, but Liu's gazetteer can be rated as that of the best quality. It is based on two older texts, one being Li Yuanyang's 李元陽 (1497-1580) gazetteer (Wanli) Yunnan tongzhi, and the other Bao Jianjie's 包見捷 (1558-1621) draft Dianzhi cao 滇志草.

The book of 33 juan is divided into 14 chapters that follow the structure of Li Yuanyang's book, with a few exceptions: Liu included all writings from the region in one chapter (19-29 Yiwen zhi 藝文志) and created a new one on roads and waterways (4 Lütu zhi 旅途志), and included information on the native chieftains (tusi 土司) in the chapter on the indirect administration of native areas (30 Jimi zhi 羈縻志). Such a chapter is until that date not found in other provincial gazetteers, but only in such in Yunnan, where the system of indirect rule was very prevalent and in use until even the early 20th century. Also new is the subchapter on military agro-colonies (tunzheng 屯徵).

The book includes the customary information on geography, astronomy and history (1-2), customs and habits, local products, sites of interest (3), public buildings (4), household figures and tax and labour system (6), military (7), education (8-9), the administrative system (10-13), eminent persons (14-15), shrines (16), Buddhist monasteries and Daoist temples (17), and miscellaneous matters and addenda (31-33).

The Dianzhi was of such a great importance that later geographies quoted whole chapters from the text, as can be seen in Gu Yanwu's 顧炎武 (1613-1682) Tianxia junguo libing shu 天下郡國利病書 or the imperial geography Zhaoyuzhi 肇域志. It seems that the book was not printed, but only circulated in manuscript form. Xu Jiong's 許炯 (fl. 1544) diary Shi Dian riji 使滇日記 proves that he owned such a copy and brought it to central China. The oldest surviving manuscript was purchased by the Peking University in 1933. Other manuscripts are today owned by the Library of Hubei 湖北省圖書館, that of Yunnan 雲南省圖書館, of Yunnan University 原南大學圖書館 and the History Institute of Yunnan 雲南省歷史研究所.

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Li Chuanchuan 李川川 (2012). "Tianqi Dianzhi gaishu 天啓《滇志》概述", Kejiao xin shidai 科教新時代, 2012/3 (retrieved from [Zhongguo qikan wang 中國期刊網], accessed by 5 Feb, 2015).
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