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Chaoxian zhi 朝鮮志

Oct 23, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Chaoxian zhi 朝鮮志, Korean reading Chosŏn chi, is a geographic description of Korea written in Chinese by an unknown Korean scholar during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) between 1400 and 1600.

The book of 2 juan begins with a general description of the kingdom of the Koryŏ dynasty 高麗 (918–1392), and then goes on to describe in detail the actual capital, customs and habits, the administrative system and its structure, ancient capitals (like Kaesŏng 開城 or P'yŏngyang 平壤), touristic spots, important places in the landscape (like important mountains and rivers), and famous buildings.

The text is arranged according to the eight provinces (to 道) and quite similar to the local gazetteers of China. The book has some shortcomings: The chapter on the capital actually only describes the imperial palace, and not the city. The chapters on the provinces are not arranged geographically. The descriptions of touristic spots are combined with ghost stories which makes the book appear like a collection of stories. Yet the description of moutains and rivers is more exact than in Xu Jing's 徐兢 (1091-1153) description of Korea, Gaoli tujing 高麗圖經 (also known as Xuanhe fengshi Gaoli tujing 宣和奉使高麗圖經).

The Chaoxian zhi is included in the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Yihai zhuchen 藝海珠塵 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Sources:
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1114.
Wang Zhaoming 王兆明, Fu Langyun 傅朗雲, ed. (1991). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Dili 地理卷 (Jilin: Changchun wenshi chubanshe), 426.