An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yutang jiahua 玉堂嘉話

Aug 16, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Yutang jiahua 玉堂嘉話 "Excellent words from the Jade Hall" is a "brush-notes"-style book (biji 筆記) written during the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) by Wang Yun 王惲 (1227-1304), courtesy name Zhongmou 仲謀, style Qiujian 秋澗. He hailed from Jixian 汲縣 in the prefecture of Weizhou 衛州 and was a senior compiler (xiuzhuan 修撰) at the Hanlin Academy 翰林院 and then a junior compiler (bianxiuguan 編修官) at the Historiography Institute (guoshiguan 國史館). In 1277, he was promoted to edict attendant (daizhi 待制) at the Hanlin Academy.

The 8-juan-long Yutang jiahua narrates his personal experience as a long-term member of the Hanlin Academy and explains how this institution operated and was managed. Wang Yun compares his work in the Academy with writing texts to be delivered to the "Jade Hall" (Yutang 玉堂) in Heaven. His book is a helpful source for information on this important institutions not found otherwise. This is not only true for the administration of the bureaus of the Academy, but also for particular events like the procedure of the official appointment of Zhang Jiuling 張九齡 (678-740) and Li Linfu 李林甫 (683-753) during the Tang period 唐 (618-907), or the booty of calligraphies and paintings that the Mongols made when they conquered the Song empire 宋 (960-1279), the calligrapher Mi Fu's 米芾 (1051-1107) appointment to the office of Chamberlain for Ceremonials (taichang 太常), the Counsellor-in-chief Qin Hui's 秦檜 (1091-1155) personal shrine, the forgery of Yan Zhenqing's 顏真卿 (709-785) calligraphy of the text Chushibiao 出師表, the fact that the treatise on astronomy (Tianwenzhi 天文志) in the official dynastic history Jinshi 金史 was authored by Zhang Zhongshun 張中順, and much more. On the other hand, there are also a lot of facts that is evidently wrong.

The book is included in Wang Yun's collected writings Qiujian xiansheng da quanwen ji 秋澗先生大全文集, and also in the series Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Shoushange congshu 守山閣叢書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編. The Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Wang Renjun 王仁俊 (1866-1913) has collected fragments of the Yutang jiahua that are to be found in his collection Jingji yiwen 經籍佚文.

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, 1965.