An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xiyu tuzhi 西域圖志

Sep 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

(Qinding) Huangyu xiyu tuzhi (欽定)皇輿西域圖志 "(Imperially endorsed) Illustrated treatise on the imperial Western territories" is a description of the region of Xinjiang from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). It was compiled on imperial order after the conquest of Dzungharia in 1755. The newly won territory had to be surveyed and was to be described in an official standard book. Grand Academician (daxueshi 大學士) Liu Tongxun 劉統勳 (1698-1773) took over the responsibility for the compilation.

Under the guidance of He Guozong 何國宗 (d. 1767), several Jesuit geodesists traveled to the west where they started surveying the landscape north and south of the Tianshan Range 天山. When this task was fulfilled, in 1761, the military archive (fanglüeguan 方略館) started compiling the Xiyu tuzhi, which was finished in 1762. In 1777 the Qianlong Emperor 乾隆帝 (r. 1735-1795) ordered to do a revision of the book which was finished in 1782.

In the first four juan, the general background of the area is described, enriched with laudatory poetry partially written by the Emperor himself. In 48 juan the geography, history, administrative system, garrison system, tributes, monetary questions, education, bestowment of hereditary ranks, customs and habits, music, local products, and the various local tribes are described. The Xiyu tuzhi used numerous sources, from the official dynastic histories to correspondences between the garrisons and the central government.

It is therefore a very valuable source for the study of the history of the region, not only for late imperial China but also from earlier times. The treatise is illustrated with an overview map, 21 detail maps, and 12 maps showing the historical development of the region.

Table 1. Contents of the Huangyu Xiyu tuzhi 皇輿西域圖志
卷首 天章 Tianzhang Heavenly Stanzas
1 圖考 Tukao Maps
4-5 列表 Liebiao Tables
6-7 晷度 Giudu Astronomy
8-19 疆域 Jiangyu Geography
20-23 Shan Mountains
24-28 Shui Waters
29-30 官制 Guanzhi Civilian administration
31 兵防 Bingfang Defence
32-33 屯政 Tunzheng Agro-colonies
34 貢賦 Gongfu Taxes and tributes
35 錢法 Qianfa Monetary policy
36 學校 Xuexiao Schools
37-38 封爵 Fengjue Investitures
39 風俗 Fengsu Customs and habits
40 音樂 Yinyue Music
41 服物 Fuwu Daily necessities
43 土産 Tuchan Local products
44-46 藩屬 Fanshu Local tribes
47-48 雜錄 Zalu Miscellaneous records
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