An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yanlu 剡錄

Mar 18, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Yanlu 剡錄, also called Shengxian zhi 嵊縣志, is a local gazetteer of Shengxian 嵊縣 in the province of Zhejiang during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279). It was compiled by Shi Anzhi 史安之 and revised by Gao Sisun 高似孫 (1158-1231). Gao is usually seen as the author of the book.

Shi Anzhi, courtesy name Zitian 子田, hailed from Yinxian 鄞縣 (in today's Zhejiang province), where he also served as district magistrate. Gao Sisun, courtesy name Xugu 續古, style Shuliao 疏寮, was from the same place. He was an editor in the palace library (jiaoshulang 校書郎), and then prefect of Huizhou 徽州, then Chuzhou 處州. In his old age, he retired to Yuezhou 越州 (modern Shaoxing 紹興), for which reason he is also believed to have been born in the city of Yuyao 餘姚 in the prefecture.

The original length of the text was 12 juan, but two fascicles are lost (in the modern version, juan 7). Yan 剡 was an old name of the city of Shengxian, for which no local gazetteer existed at the time. The book was finished in 1214. It is written in the classical style of gazetteers, beginning with a chronicle, maps (today lost), administrative units, schools, places of education like the Yuanyuan Hall 淵源堂, a list of jinshi graduates who hailed from the place, postal stations, editorial history of the region, military affairs, topography will mountains and rivers, biographies of outstanding personalities (xianxian 先賢), tourist spots, literature and artworks produced in the city (with persons like Ruan Yu 阮裕, Wang Xizhi 王羲之 or Xie Lingyun 謝靈運), local produce and products (paper for paintings and calligraphies), and plants (as the tea types wulong 五龍 [sic], dakun 大崑 or beikang 焙坑 and the bamboo types zizhu 紫竹 or danzhu 淡竹) and animals. The gazetteer is of great interest because it quotes from Tang-period 唐 (618-907) sources that are lost, especially from the field of literature.

Of particular value is the chapter on the "worthies" (xianxian) because it presents biographies of eminent persons not found elsewhere, and the chapter on rivers and streams which imitates the great river classic Shuijingzhu 水經注 and his thus very detailed. The compilers of the descriptive catalogue Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目提要 stress the model value of the Yanlu as a scholarly and reliable geography book that does not include fictional and bizarre statements.

The book is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Zhongguo difang congshu 中國方志叢書.

Table 1. Contents of the Yanlu 剡錄
1 縣紀年 Chronicle of the district
城境圖 Map (missing)
官治志 Administration
社志 The community shrine
學志 Schools and academies
廪站 Granaries and postal stations
樓亭 Guild halls and pavilions
放生池 The living pond
版圖 Cadastres
兵籍 Troops
2 山水志 Mountains and rivers
3 先賢傳 Former worthies
4 古奇迹 Ancient sites of interest
古阡 Ancient tombs
5 Personal writings
Public writings
6 Poetry
7 Paintings
Paper production
古物 Ancient objects
8 物外記 Clerical affairs
9-10 草木禽魚 Plants and animals
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 170.
Wang Zhaoming 王兆明, Fu Langyun 傅朗云, ed. (1991). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Dili 地理卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 293.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 736.
Zhang Xiumin 張秀民 (1986). "Yanlu ba 《剡錄》跋", Wenxian 文獻, 1986 (3): 105-106.
Zhongguo baike da cidian bianweihui 《中國百科大辭典》編委會, ed. (1990). Zhongguo baike da cidian 中國百科大辭典 (Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe), 744.
Zhu Yiqun 朱義群 (2019). "Gao Sisun Yanlu de juanci wenti 高似孫《剡錄》的卷次問題", Wenxian 文獻, 2019 (2): 96-103.