An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Huainan shuili kao 淮南水利考

Dec 21, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Huainan shuili kao 淮南水利考 "On River Conservancy in the Huainan Region" is a book on water conservancy in the region of the Huai River 淮河 (northern Anhui and Jiangsu) written by the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Hu Ying'en 胡應恩 xxx, courtesy name Xiwan 西畹. He hailed from Shuyang 沭阳, Jiangsu, and was magistrate (zhixian 知縣) of Hepu 合浦. He was the grand-son of Hu Xiaocai 胡效才, who had been vice minister (shilang 侍郎) in Nanjing. Hu Ying'en was therefore very familiar with the riverine conditions of this region.

The 2-juan long book is an historical record of hydraulic works in the Huai River region, from the mythological past to the early Wanli reign-period 萬曆 (1573-1619). It focuses on the decades when Ping Jiangbo 平江伯, Duke of Chen 陳公, was Director-General of Grain Transport (zongdu caoyun 總督漕運) and had the responsibility to care for the Grand Canal whose waters were connected with River Huai. His experiences in the regulation of water were important for his successors.

The author quotes from a wide range of books, like the local gazetteer (Jiading) Shanyang zhi 嘉定山陽志, which has not survived except in these quotations. The Huainan shuili kao was highly esteemed during the late Ming and the Qing 清 (1644-1911) periods. Hu Wei 胡渭 (1633-1714), author of the Yugong zhuizhi 禹貢錐指, made use of it to demonstrate the impact of the sea tides on the water level of the Grand Canal and River Huai. It is also quoted by Gu Yanwu 顧炎武 (1613-1682) in his geographic treatise Tianxia junguo libing shu 天下郡國利病書.

The text survives as a manuscript published by the Tianchi Hall 天尺樓.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1061.