An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Guisi leigao 癸巳類稿 and Guisi cungao 癸巳存稿

Sep 13, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Guisi leigao 癸巳類稿 "Classified draft from the year guisi" is is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the late Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by the philosopher Yu Zhengxie 俞正燮 (1775-1840).

The text of the Guisi leigao with a length of 15 juan was finished in 1833, the year with the cyclical signs gui 癸 and si 巳 (see calendar). It is an analysis of traditional texts on a vast array of genres, from the Confucian Classics and the histories to astronomy, medicine, geography and Daoist writings. Yu Zhengxie's profound analysis of certain aspects in traditional writings provide important information, for instance, on certain aspects of imperial administration like the office of the ambans (zhuzha dachen 駐劄大臣), the management of the Grand Canal, the immigration of mainlanders into Taiwan, Russian affairs, or the origin of the land-and-poll tax system (diding 地丁). Quite surprising are his statements about gender equality, which contradicts the Confucian system.

Yu Zhengxie's second book of this type is the Guisi cungao 癸巳存稿 "Remaining drafts of the year guisi", with the same length as the Guisi leigao. In this text, Yu Zhengxie comments on traditional writings, the status of women in society, river conservancy work, the border peoples in the northwest and the system of weights and measures. His text is a very important source on history, and touches many cultural aspects like various types of chess, the history of the watermelon and that of tobacco.

The editions from the Daoguang reign-period 道光 (1821-1850) were reproduced in 1957 by the Commercial Press (Shangwu Yinshuguan 商務印書館). Both texts are included in the series Huang-Qing jingjie xubian 皇清經解續編.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1940.