There are several books with the title Zhupu 竹譜 "On bamboo". The first is a book attributed to Dai Kaizhi 戴凱之 (see Dai Kaizhi's Zhupu), who lived during the Southern Dynasties period 南朝 (420~589). A second one was written during the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) by Li Kan 李衎 (1244-1320). A third book with the title Zhupu, compiled during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), was a product of Chen Ding 陳鼎 (see Chen Ding's Zhupu). The book Sunpu 筍譜 by the Song-period 宋 (960-1279) monk Zanning 贊寧 (919-1001) is sometimes also referred to with the title Zhupu.
Li Kan's book on bamboo painting, which is also called Zhupu xianglu 竹譜詳錄, is the result of long personal experience in painting. Li Kan, courtesy name Zhongbin 仲賓, style Xizhai Daoren 息齋道人, hailed from Jiqiu 薊丘 (modern Fengtai district 豐臺 in Beijing) and was a Grand Academician (daxueshi 大學士) in the Jixian Hall 集賢殿. He was granted the title of Duke of Ji 薊國公, with the posthumous title of Duke Wenjian 薊文簡公 (李文簡). Li Kan was a disciple of the painter Huang Dan 黄澹. In 1264, he arrived in Qiantang 錢塘 close to Hangzhou 杭州 (at the time the capital of the Southern Song empire), Zhejiang, where he was able to admire the paintings of the famous artists of Wenzhou 文州 and Huzhou 湖州, and was inspired to specialize on the painting of bamboo. Li Kan has also written the treatises Huazhu 畫竹 "Painting bamboo" and Mozhu 墨竹 "Depicting bamboo with ink". His paintings with the titles Siqing 四清 "The four pures", Mozhu 墨竹 "Bamboo in ink" and Shuangsong 雙松 "Two pine trees" have survived.
Two figures demonstrating the application of strength in softness (rouhe zhong yao guli 柔和中要骨力) and of uprightness in beauty (wanmei zhong qiu gangzheng 婉媚中求剛正). Siku quanshu 四庫全書 edition.
The Zhupu was originally 20-juan-long, but the format was in later editions reduced to 10 juan. It is accompanied with a preface and is divided into four chapters. The chapter on the qualities of bamboo is the most detailed. It describes six various types (pin 品 "qualities") of bamboo, the shape of leafs and stalks, their colour, and extraordinary shapes. His descriptions are illustrated with the help of pictures that show how leafs are bent and nodes are shaped. Yet these descriptions only show extraordinary types or species of bamboo, not the normal appearance.
|畫竹譜||The painting of bamboo|
|墨竹譜||The use of in to paint bamboo|
|竹態譜||Properties of bamboo|
|竹品譜：全徳品||Kinds of bamboo: Perfect vibrancy|
|竹品譜：異形品||Kinds of bamboo: Extraordinary shapes (1-2)|
|《玉篇》云並小竹||Smaller bamboos mentioned in the encyclopaedia Yupian|
|異色品||Outstanding types of colours|
|神異品||Types emanating unusual spirit|
|似是而非竹品||[Plants] looking like bamboo which are not bamboo|
|有名而非竹品||[Plants] called bamboo which are not bamboo|