The Qiequn zhizhang tu 切韻指掌圖 "Finger-and-palm charts to the cut rhymes system" is a rhyme table from the Song period 宋 (960-1279) originally attributed to Sima Guang 司馬光 because he had written the preface. A small chapter on the rules of the composition (Jianli 檢例) was written by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Shao Guangzu 邵光祖.
The 2 juan "scrolls" long book was lost at an early point of time and could only be reconstructed as a quotation in the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) encyclopedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典. It is the oldest book providing an overview of the early modern Chinese "equal rhymes" (dengyun 等韻). A lot of Ming and Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholars like Sang Shaoliang 桑紹良 (Qingjiao zazhu 青郊雜著), Zhou Bin 周赟 (Shanmen xinyu 山門新語), Mo Youzhi 莫友芝 (Yunxue yuanliu 韻學源流) already doubted that Sima Guang was the author. Zou Tefu 鄒特夫 and Chen Li 陳澧 first raised the name of Yang Zhongxiu 楊中修 as that of a potential author, but even his is far from certain. It is sure that the book was compiled during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) and was written later than the rhyme book Sisheng dengzi 四聲等子. Zhao Yintang 趙蔭棠, author of the Dengyun yuanliu 等韻源流, assumes that it was written between 1176 and 1203.
The Zhizhangtu includes 20 rhyme tables, each of which is headed by 36 initial consonants. This pattern is identical to the earlier Sisheng dengzi, yet there are some important differences in the arrangement. In the Zhizhangtu, the 36 consonants are arranged in 36 columns, whereas earlier books like the Yunjing 韻鏡 and the Sisheng dengzi had only 23 columns. The sequence of the consonants is identical to that in the treatise Qiyin lüe 七音略 in the Tongzhi 通志, but the consonant group 影 [ʔ] 曉 [x] 匣 [ɣ] 喻 [j] is different in the Sisheng dengzi and other books like Wuyin jiyun 五音集韻 or Qieyun zhinan 切韻指南, where it is 曉 [x] 匣 [ɣ] 影[ʔ]喻 [j]. The Zhizhangtu does not indicate the names of the she rhymes 攝 and in fact has, like the Sisheng dengzi, only 13 instead of 16 finals because 宕 (ĭaŋ, ĭωaŋ, ĭak, ĭωak, ɑŋ, uɑŋ, ɑk, uɑk) and 江 (ɔŋ, ωɔŋ, ɔk, ωɔk), 曾 (ĭəŋ, ĭωəŋ, ĭək, ĭωək, əŋ, uəŋ, ək, uək) and 梗 (ɐŋ, ĭɐŋ, ωɐŋ, ĭωɐŋ, ɐk, ĭɐk, ωɐk, ĭωɐk, æŋ, ωæŋ, æk, ωæk, ĭɛŋ, ĭωɛŋ, ĭɛk, ĭωɛk, ieŋ, iωeŋ, iek, iωek), and 果 (ɑ, uɑ, ĭɑ, ĭuɑ) and 假 (a, ĭa, ωa) are put into one group. The amalgamation of the old 206 rhyme groups established in the Tang period 唐 (618-907) dictionary Qieyun 切韻 to the 106 rhyme groups of the Song period (the so-called pingshui rhymes 平水韻). While the Zhizhangtu puts all rhymes of the 江 [ɔŋ, ωɔŋ] group into one, closed-mouth (hekou 合口) group, together with the rhymes 陽 [ĭaŋ, ĭωaŋ] and 唐 [ɑŋ, uɑŋ], the Sisheng dengzi unifies the groups 幫, 見 and 莊 as such pronounced with an open mouth (kaikou 開口) and the other groups of the 江 series with 知 and 來 as such pronounced with a closed mouth.
Older dictionaries unified the syllables of the rhyme group 江 [ɔŋ, ωɔŋ] with labial (幫 [b]) and velar (見 [k]) initials with syllables of the rhyme group 陽 [ĭaŋ, ĭωaŋ] with dental initial 床 (dʒʰ), identified as syllables pronounced with less open mouth (kaikou erdeng 開口二等), while all other syllables of the rhyme group 江 [ɔŋ, ωɔŋ] were treated as belonging to a separate group with the initials 知 [ţ], 床 (dʒʰ) or 來 [l] and closed mouth (hekou erdeng 合口二等). The Zhizhangtu rated all syllables of the rhyme group 江 [ɔŋ, ωɔŋ] as such with closed mouth and unifed them with closed-mouth syllables of the joint rhyme group 陽唐 [ĭaŋ, ĭωaŋ].
Rhymes of the group 支 [ĭe, ĭωe] are rated traditionally as less closed syllables (sandeng 三等), while the Zhizhangtu categorized them as much open (yideng 一等). The Yuan period dictionary Zhongyuan yinyun 中原音韻 would eventually establish a further rhyme group (思 [sĭə]) to meet the difference of the modern pronunciation.
The Zhizhangtu furthermore again separates the joint rhyme groups 止 (ĭe, ĭωe, i, ωi, ĭə, ĭəi, ĭωəi) and 蟹 (iei, iωei, ĭɛi, ĭωɛi, ɑi, uɑi, ai, ωai, ɐi, ωɐi, æi, ωæi, uɒi, ɒi, ĭɐi, ĭωɐi) and thus destroyed the system of the she rhymes. The open-mouth syllables 齊 [iei, iωei] and 祭 [ĭɛi, ĭωɛi] of the rhyme group 蟹 were unified with the open-mouth syllables 支 [ĭe, ĭωe] 脂 [i, ωi] 之 [ĭə] 微 [ĭəi, ĭωəi] of the rhyme group 止. The open-mouth (yideng 一等) syllables of the rhyme group 灰 [uɒi] and the closed-mouth syllables (sideng hekou 四等合口) of the 齊 [iei, iωei] group were unified with the closed-mouth syllables of the rhyme groups 支脂之微.
A lot of rhymes formerly categorized as much closed (sideng 四等) are identified in the Zhizhangtu as less closed (sandeng 三等), which proves that during the Song period there was not any more such a huge difference between sounds pronounced with an open mouth and such with a closed mouth. These differences to older rhyme dictionaries show that the Zhizhangtu was closer to the modern pronunciation than earlier dictionaries that often retained obsolete initials and finals not any longer in use.
The Qieyun zhizhang tu was first printed in 1230. The Yongle dadian version was included in the collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書. Master Yan 嚴氏 from Sichuan has reproduced the book in the collectanea Yinyunxue congshu 音韻學叢書. In 1883 it was printed by the Tongwen press 同文書局 in Shanghai, in 1910 it was printed by Master Xiong's 熊氏 Jiubushi Studio 舊補史堂. It is also included in the collectanea Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Congshu jicheng 叢書集成 and Shiwanjuanlou congshu 十萬卷樓叢書.
Below see an example from the Qieyun zhizhang tu. The first image shows how ancient scholars used to memorize the consonant initials. The hand to the right shows the metaphysical relation of the initials to the sounds of music, the hand to the left shows the consonant initials.
The lower image is the whole chart of the rhyme (final) group 效 [-aʊ]. The headlines are the initial consonants, the sixteen rows are the word arranged according to the tone pitches, with four qualities for each tone pitch (example of the first column to the right: 高交驕驍 kɑu˥˩ kau˥˩ kĭɛu˥˩ kieu˥˩ ; 暠絞矯皎 kɑu˥ kau˥ kĭɛu˥ kieu˥ ； 告教／叫 kɑu˩˥ kau˩˥ ／ kieu˩˥ ； 各覺腳／ kɑk kɔk kĭak ／). Enlarge image (new tablet).
Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (ed. 1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 1, p. 793. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.