An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yecanlu 野蠶錄

Mar 3, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Yecanlu 野蠶錄 is a book on wild silk written during the late Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Wang Yuanting 王元綎, courtesy name Wenfu 文甫, from Ninghai 寧海 (today's Mouping 牟平, Shandong). Wang obtained the jinshi degree in 1898.

In his 4-juan-long book, Wang analyses the designations for various kinds of wild silkworms as well as that of the many types of trees (the most important being Quercus dentata, zuo 柞) whose leaves the silkworms live on. In a next step, the author expounds methods of tree cultivation and care for the worms. He the goes on to describe the methods to gain yarn from the cocoons, and explains tools and implements used in this process. The last fascicle also touches the matter of marketing and export. The text is closed by a table with production figures and some illustrations showing moths and larvae of Antheraea pernyi (zuocan 柞蠶), the oak tree, as well as situations of silkworm feeding. The text focuses on wild silk production in the province of Shandong. Wang's sources include rare or even lost texts like Zhang Zhongfeng's 張鍾峰 Shancanpu 山蠶譜 or Han Gongfu's 韓公復 Yangcan chengfa 養蠶成法.

Figures 1-2. Larva and imago of Antheraea pernyi
Source: 1902 edition.

The book was printed in 1902 and reprinted in 1905 by the Commercial Press (Shangwu Yinshuguan 商務印書館). The Tongwen Office 同文官 in Anqing 安慶 published a lead-character edition in 1909, and the public Guanshu Baoju 官書報局 in Hunan reproduced the text as a lithographical print. The text is part of the series Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書. A modern edition with annotations by Zheng Biqiang 鄭辟疆 was published in 1962 by the Nongye Press 農業出版社.

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Huang Shirui 黃世瑞 (1995). "Yecanlu 野蠶錄", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Nongye lishi 農業歷史卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 375.
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Wang Yuhu 王毓瑚, ed. (1964). Zhongguo nongxue shulu 中國農學書錄 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 294.
Wang Zhuangmu 王莊穆, ed. (1996). Zhongguo sichou cidian 中國絲綢辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo kexue jishu chubanshe), 640.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 788.
Zhao Wenpang 趙文榜 (1984). "Yecanlu 野蠶錄", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Fangzhi 紡織 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 305.