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Chinese Literature
Zijian 字鑒 "A Mirror of Characters"

The Zijian 字鑒 "Mirror of Characters", also written 字鑑, is a book on Chinese characters written by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Li Wenzhong 李文仲. He came from Changzhou 長州 (modern Wuxian 吳縣, Jiangsu), but any further dates about his life are unknown. The 5 juan "scrolls" long book is a supplement of the book Leiyun 類韻 that was written by his father Li Shiying 李世英. This book was finished in 1321 and was written with the spirit that the shape of a character was its most fundamental spirit, the reading the second point, and the meaning was only the last point to be discussed. With the help of the large treasure of older character dictionaries Li Wenzhong expanded the book of his father and created a book providing the "correct" shape of characters. These are arranged according to the system of the 206 Guangyun 廣韻 rhymes. It helped to amend a lot of errors that had crept into the Confucian Classics and respective dictionaries, like the Wujing wenzi 五經文字 that was compiled under the supervision of Zhang Can 張參 during the Tang period 唐 (618-907), or the Peixi 佩觽, a Song period product by Guo Zhongshu 郭忠恕. Such errors were 槀 instead of {高/禾}, or 隟 instead of 隙. Such could easily be amended, but a large amount of "wrong" characters had long become custom, like 墮 instead of 陊, or 隳 instead of 隓, and would continue to be used.
The book was forgotten for a long time and was only rediscovered by Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 during the Kangxi reign 康熙 (1662-1722). A critical commentary to the Zijian, the Jiaozhu Zijian 校注字鑒, was written by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Fang Chenggui 方成珪. He carefully analysed the ancient use of the Zijian characters and quoted, where it had been used in which sense, for instance, when the character 逄 was used instead of 逢, and when it was exchangeable.
The Zijing is included in the reprint series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Zixue sanzhong 字學三書, Tiehuaguan congshu 鐵華館叢書, Qingfentang congshu 清芬堂叢書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 1, p. 733.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

October 6, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail