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Chinese Literature
Zunsheng bajian 遵生八牋 "The Eight Treatises on Following the Principles of Life"

The Zunsheng bajian 遵生八牋 (also written 遵生八箋) "Eight treatises on following the principles of life", full title Yashangzhai Zunsheng bajian 雅尚齋遵生八箋, is an encyclopaedia compiled by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Gao Lian 高濂, courtesy name Gao Shenfu 高深甫, style Ruinan 瑞南. His study was called Yasheng Clause 雅尚齋 "Holding high the refined". He came from Qiantang 錢塘 (modern Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang) and was a famous poet and writer of the Wanli period 萬曆 (1573-1619). He has also written the story collections Yuzuanji 玉簪記 and Jiexiaoji 節孝記, and his poems are assembled in the collections Yashangzhai shicao 雅尚齋詩草 and Fangcanglou ci 芳藏樓詞. Gao Lian was very interested in diet and "nourishing life" (yangsheng 養生), and this interest accordingly found reflection in his 19 juan "scrolls" long book Zunsheng bajian.
The collection was finished in 1591. The themes are arranged in 8 categories. The first two scrolls explain the basic rules of hygiene as found in the "teachings" of the Yellow Emperor 黃帝 and the Daoist master Laozi 老子. The next part explains the forms of diet through the year, in accordance with the seasons. The third part gives insight into how the conditions of dwelling, furniture and interior influence health. The fourth part provides information about methods to prolong life, especially by "ingestion of air" (fuqi 服氣) and gymnastics (daoyin 導引). Healthy diet (eating and drinking) is referred to in the fifth treatise. The nourishment of the spirit during leasuretime and "pure enjoyments" (qingshang 清賞) is the theme of the sixth part, to which a short chapter on flower cultivation in appended. This treatise is followed by the seventh, dealing with inner alchemy and pharmacology, and the production of "numinous secrets" (lingmi 靈秘) and "cinnabar drugs" (danyao 丹藥). The final part of the book includes stories about one hundred immortals and Daoist masters through history.
The Zunsheng bajian covers all important ascpects of physical and mental hygience for a healthy and long-lasting life. It is a reflection of the teachings of Daoist masters and medical experts from several centuries, and this in a very practical way that can be adhered to by everyone. Because of this less theoretic nature the Zunsheng bajian is a rich source for medicine, hygienic practice, and different tools used in the daily life of the educated class.
The oldest print was produced by Gao Lian himself. This original version was bound in 12 booklets and one copy of it survives in the Library of Congress, just like another version from that time, bound in 15 booklets. A third original print includes 20 booklets and is owned by the library of Peking University 北京大學圖書館. It is introduced by a preface written by Tu Long 屠隆, one by Li Shiying 李時英, and one by Gao Lian himself. A younger print dates from the Chongzhen reign 崇禎 (1628-1644), and one edition revised by the owner of the Xuanxue Study 弦雪居 from 1810.

Zunsheng bajian by J. Dudgeon, in William Berk, ed. (1986), Chinese Healing Arts: Internal Kung-fu (Burbank, CA: Unique).
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 2001.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書, Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe, p. 242.
Zhu Jiajin 朱家溍 (1992). "Zunsheng bajian 遵生八箋", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Meishu 美術, Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1187.

1.-2. 清修妙論箋 Qingxiu miaolun Wondrous treatise about purification and recreation
3.-6. 四時調攝箋 Sishi diaoshe Tempering and regulating through the four seasons
7.-8. 起居安樂箋 Qiju anle Joy and pleasure on rising and dwelling
9.-10. 延年卻病箋 Yannian quebing Prolonging life and preventing diseases
11.-13. 飲饌服食箋 Yinzhuan fushi Drinking and food
14.-16. 燕閑清嘗箋 Yanxian qingchang
17.-18. 靈秘丹藥箋 Lingbi danyao Numinous secrets and cinnabar drugs
19. 塵外遐舉箋 Chenwai xiaju (Masters) beyond the worldly dust and far from rank and office
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

October 31, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail