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Wulin jiushi 武林舊事

Jul 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Wulin jiushi 武林舊事 "Ancient matters from Wulin Garden" is a report of the city of Lin'an 臨安 (modern Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang), during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) capital of the empire. The 10-juan long book was written by Zhou Mi 周密 (1232-1298), courtesy name Gongjin 公謹, style Caochuang 草窗, Sishui qianfu 四水潛夫, Bianyang Laoren 弁陽老人 or Bianyang Xiaoweng 弁陽嘯翁. He belonged to the retinue of the pacification commissioner (anfusi 安撫司) of Zhexi 浙西, was then clerk of the transport office (yunsi yuan 運司掾) of Liang-Zhe 兩浙, and finally prefect (zhifu 知縣) of Yiwu 義烏.

After the downfall of the Song he retired and started writing his books Qidong yeyu 齊東野語 and Wulin jiushi. The latter was finished in 1290 and is written according to the remembrance of what he had seen and heard during his life in Lin'an, in the city, at the imperial court, and the surroundings, like the Wulin Garden. The Wulin jiushi is a very important source for urban life during the Song period, especially the history of popular entertainment and the prehistory of Chinese theatre and performing arts.

During the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644), Zhu Huhuan 朱廷煥 (jinshi degree 1634), courtesy name Zhongbai 中白, from Shanxian 單縣, Shandong, revised and enlarged the Wulin jiushi to a length of 8 juan. Zhu was prefect of Hangzhou during the Chongzhen reign-period 崇禎 (1628-1644), a time when he read many books about the region, like Xihu zhi 西湖志, Helin yulu 鶴林玉露, Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆, Chuogenglu 輟耕錄 or Guixin zashi 癸辛雜識.

Zhu's book is known as Zengbu Wulin jiushi 增補武林舊事, and adds information on poetry written by imperial consorts (ruizao 睿藻), "favours by the emperor" (enze 恩澤), lighting the stoves (kailu 開爐), ancient palaces and halls (gudu gongdian 故都宮殿), products from the lakes (huchan 湖產), and extraordinary occurrences (zaiyi 災異). His book has 154 chaptres. The compilers of the descriptive bibliography Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目提要 criticized Zhu's version as to relying too much on superstitious stories, even if is had some value for the unofficial stories about the time. It was printed in 1637 and in 1777 by Wang Ritan's 汪日菼 Suye Studio 夙夜齋.

In 1956 the Shanghai Gudian Wenxue press 上海古典文學出版社 reprinted the Wulin jiushi, based on the edition in the series Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書, together with the Dongjing menghua lu 東京夢華錄, a very similar book about Kaifeng, capital of the Northern Song. In 1984 the Zhejiang Renmin Press 浙江人民出版社 published a modern edition.

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