An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jigulu 集古錄

Mar 18, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Jigulu 集古錄 "Collection of antiques" is a catalogue of ancient inscriptions compiled by the Song-period 宋 (960-1279) historian Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 (1007-1072). He was an ardent collector himself, but also found a lot of antiques in the collections of his friends. He started compiling a catalogue of rubbings, transcriptions of the inscriptions of old vessels and descriptions of objects in 1045 and published his book in 1062.

The 10-juan long Jigulu includes the inscriptions of 20 old bronze vessels, tomb stone slabs and model calligraphy tablets from oldest antiquity to the Five Dynasties period 五代 (907-960). The largest part of the book is occupied by model calligraphy from the Tang period 唐 (618-907). Ouyang Xiu's catalogue represents in more than 400 descriptions the best and most important objects, each of which is transcribed into modern characters and explained. Each chapter is ended by a postface (Bawei 跋尾). The catalogue is unfortunately not compiled chronologically but in the order in which the author had access to the objects.

When the Jigulu was printed, it was the first descriptive catalogue on Chinese antiques and opened a thoroughly new field of collectorship and interest in old objects as historical sources. Ouyang Xiu perceived tomb stone inscriptions as a very important corrective to official historiography, that sometimes includes errors and sometimes even deliberately distorts facts.

The Jigulu is preserved in two different versions, one included in the author's collected works, Ouyang Wenzhonggong ji 歐陽文忠公集 (the so-called jiben 集本 version), and the so-called joint version (hebianben 合編本) that was printed in Luling 廬陵 and has not been transmitted. The version included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 is a later reconstruction of the hebian version.

Ouyang Xiu's son Ouyang Fei 歐陽棐 (1047-1113) compiled a comprehensive catalogue of all items collected by his father, the Jigulu mu 集古錄目, amounting to more than 1,000 objects. This catalogue includes the names of authors, their official positions and the date of the erection of the tomb inscriptions. This catalogue has only survived in fragments quoted in Chen Si's 陳思 (c. 1250) collection Baoke congbian 寶刻叢編.

The Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Huang Benji 黃本驥 (1781-1856) was able to reconstruct about 500 descriptions that he published in the Sanchangwuzhai congchu 三長物齋叢書. Except in the Siku quanshu, the Jigulu is also included in the series Xingsucaotang jinshi congshu 行素草堂金石叢書.

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