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Chinese Literature
Xiyang chaogong dianlu 西洋朝貢典錄

The Four Categories of Literature
Xiyang chaogong dianlu 西洋朝貢典錄 is a book on the tribute missions of "western" countries (from the Chinese perspective) during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). The 3-juan long book was compiled by Huang Shengzeng 黃省曾 (1490-1540), courtesy name Mianzhi 勉之, style Wuyue 五岳. He hailed from Wuxian 吳縣 (today's Suzhou 蘇州, Jiangsu) and obtained the juren degree in 1531.

The term xiyang 西洋 "western ocean" refers to countries on the martitime route from China to the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, but it is not used in a very exact way, because states in the South China Sea or the Strait of Malacca, are located in the "eastern ocean" (Dongyang 東洋), and not the western one. The book, finished in 1520, is divided into 23 chapters, each narrating the circumstances of one country, beginning with Champa (Zhancheng 占城) in today's Cambodia, and ending with Meccah (Tianfang 天方). Yet some chapters are enlarged by appendixes giving information on further states. The sequence of the chapters more or less corresponds to the route which Zheng He 鄭和 (1371-1433) once took in the early 15th century.

Each chapter describes the capital city, the distance to China, indications as to the compass points, routes inside the country, topography, customs and habits, local products ("tribute products" gongpin 貢品 like "bright-moon pearls" mingyue zhu 明月珠), "crow-pigeon stones" yahu shi 鴉鶻石) or "dragon-saliva incense" longxian xiang 龍涎香), the language, and the clothes of the local population. It is therefore much more detailed than the respective chapters in the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史, yet much of the material (barring the one or other place name) is also seen in other books, like Zheng He xia Xiyang 鄭和下西洋, Xingcha shenglan 星槎勝覽 or Yingya shenglan 瀛涯勝覽, and quite probably also the navigation book Zhenwei 針位 (today lost).

The book is included in the reprint collections (congshu 叢書) Biexiazhai congshu 別下齋叢書, Biji xiaoshuo daguan 筆記小說大觀, Yueyatang congshu 粵雅堂叢書, Zhihai 指海, and was reprinted in 1863 by the Hanfenlou Studio 涵芬樓 in Shanghai. Another print is included in the reprint series Jieyueshanfang huichao 借月山房彙鈔 (commented reproduction by Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局 1981). A manuscript version by Qian Qianyi 錢謙益 also survives.

卷上 占城國第一 真臘國第二 爪哇國第三 三佛齊國第四 滿剌加國第五 浡泥國第六 蘇祿國第七 彭亨國第八 琉球國第九 卷中 暹羅國第十 阿魯國第十一 蘇門答臘國第十二 南浡里國第十三 溜山國第十四 錫蘭山國第十五 榜葛剌國第十六 卷下 小葛蘭國第十七 柯枝國第十八 古里國第十九 祖法兒國第二十 忽魯謨斯國第二十一 阿丹國第二十二 天方國第二十三
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1114.
Wang Zhaoming 王兆明, Fu Langyun 傅朗雲, ed. (1991). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Dili 地理卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 127.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 307.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1994). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Wenxue 文學卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 209.
Zhou Weizhou 周偉洲, Ding Jingtai 丁景泰, ed. (2006). Sichou zhi lu da cidian 絲綢之路大辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 776.

September 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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