The Yuhai 玉海 "Jade ocean" is an encyclopedia written by the late Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Wang Yinglin 王應麟 (1223-1296), who acted as Minister of Rites and is known as compiler of a lot of researches on various topics. Among his most important writings are Shenningji 深寧集, Shikao 詩考, Shi dili kao 詩地理考, Han yiwen zhi kao 漢藝文志考, Tongjian dili tongshi 通鑒地理通釋, Wanghuipian jie 王會篇解, Hanzhi kao 漢制考, Yutang leigao 玉堂類稿, Cixue tiyuan 詞學題苑, Jijiupian jie 急救篇解, Xiaoxue ganzhu 小學紺珠, Xingshi jijiu pian 姓氏急救篇, and Kunxue jiwen 困學紀聞. The Yuhai is 200 juan "scrolls" long, with and appendix of 4 juan of a glossary of technical terms (Cixue zhinan 辭學指南). It is divided into 21 topics and 241 sub-topics. A Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) print includes 233 sub-chapters. A book of the collected works of the Southern Qi period 南齊 (479-502) scholar Zhang Rong 張融 with the same title is lost. The title might also be derived from a lost compilation of Emperor Wu 梁武帝 (r. 502-549) from the Liang period 梁 (502-557), the Jinhai 金海.
The Yuhai was compiled as a handbook for the preparation of the state examinations which became most important for the career in the service of the state. The importance of the Yuhai lies in the vast amount of source literature it uses, and which is indicated for each quotation. For this strength the Yuhai has often been appraised highly by scholars. Wang Yingling did not only collect the largest amount of sources, but he also carefully selected the most suitable, and added his comments to the sources he finally used. After Du You's 杜佑 Tongdian 通典 from the Tang period 唐 (618-907) and before Ma Duanlin's 馬端臨 Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 from the Yuan period, the Yuhai was the only encyclopedia of high quality.
The book was unfortunately transmitted in a very bad state after the end of the Yuan period. Song period prints have not survived. The earliest print dated from 1269 and was printed in the province (lu 路 "circuit") of Qingyuan 慶元 that was at that time already conquered by the Mongols. The printing blocks were transferred to Nanjing during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). The oldest surviving full print dates from 1340.
There were in total twelve different versions in circulation, from which a kind of original had to be recovered during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). The prints from 1351, from 1507, from 1583, and from 1687 are enlarged version containing other books by Wang Yinglin as an appendix. The same is valid for the so-called Sanchao "three reigns" edition 三朝本 from 1738 by Zhang Huanian 張華年. There is a print from 1806 by Master Kang 康氏, reprinted in 1883 by the Zhejiang press 浙江書局, but enriched with a commentary by the Qing period scholar Zhang Dachang 張大昌. The Yuhai in included in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
During the Ming period, the scholar Liu Hongxun 劉鴻訓 compiled a 22 juan long digest version, the Yuhai zuan 玉海纂. It was printed during the Qing period by Wang Yunming 王允明 and in 1879 by Master Xu's 徐氏 Bashan Studio 八杉齋.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2042. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書, pp. 131-132. Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe.
1.-5. 天文 Tianwen Astronomy|
6.-13. 律歷 Lüli Music and calendar
14.-25. 地理 Dili Administrative geography
26.-27. 帝學 Dixue Imperial guidelines
28.-34. 聖文 Shengwen Holy writings
35.-63. 藝文 Yiwen Canonical writings
64.-67. 詔令 Zhaoling Edicts and commands
68.-77. 禮儀 Liyi Rites and etiquette
78.-84. 車服 Chefu Chariots and robes
85.-91. 器用 Qiyong Tools
92.-102. 郊祀 Jiaosi Suburban offerings
103.-110. 音樂 Yinyue Music
111.-113. 學校 Xuexiao Education for state officials
114.-118. 選舉 Xuanju Selection and promotion of state officials
119.-135. 官制 Guanzhi State official system
136.-151. 兵制 Bingzhi Military system
152.-154. 朝貢 Chaogong Court tributes
155.-175. 宮室 Gongshi Palaces and houses
176.-186. 食貨 Shihuo Food and money
187.-194. 兵捷 Bingjie Military victory
195.-200. 祥瑞 Xiangrui Portents and omina
201.-204. 辭學指南 Cixue zhinan Explanations of terms