An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Guang cansang shuo jibu 廣蠶桑說輯補

Jan 31, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Guang cansang shuo jibu 廣蠶桑說輯補 "Enlarged and supplemented explanations on sericulture" is the name of a book on silk production. It is based on an original book called Cansangshuo 蠶桑說.

The first book with the title Cansangshuo was written by Li Ba 李拔 (1713-1775) from Jianwei 犍為, Sichuan, and focuses on the silk production of that province. This relatively short text is included in the statecraft encyclopaedia Huangchao jingshi wenbian 皇朝經世文編 and quoted in full in the administrative handbook Mulingshu 牧令書. Another book on silk culture in Sichuan was written by Zhao Jingru 趙敬如. It exists in several editions, for instance, the original from 1896, and the Jianxicun Studio 漸西村舍 edition.

The larger book of this title was written by Shen Lian 沈練 (juren degree 1821, d. 1855), courtesy name Qingqu 清渠, from Liyang 溧陽, Jiangsu. He was assistant instructor (xundao 訓導) of Jixi 績溪, Anhui, and wrote the brief Cansangshuo during that time. After his retirement, he became acquainted with the book Cansang jiyao 蠶桑輯要 and decided to revise his book, and gave it the title Guang cansang shuo 廣蠶桑說, but was not able to finish it. The work was continued by his son Shen Qi 沈琪, courtesy name Jimei 季美, and Zhong Xuelu 仲學輅 (1836-c. 1907), courtesy name Angting 昴庭, who published the book in 1863. In the later 19th century, Zong Yuanhan 宗源瀚, at the time prefect (zhifu 知府) of Yanzhou 嚴州, Zhejiang, asked Shen Zhu 沈著 for the permission to revise the book, and had it republished with the long title Guang cancang shuo jibu. It is included in the series Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Figure 1. Illustrations from the Guang cansang shuo jibu 廣蠶桑說輯補
Right: Rack for feeding silkworms (si can deng 飼蠶凳). Left: Hand brushes lying on a shed curtain of reed (shanpeng lulian caozhou 山棚蘆簾草帚). 1897 Jianxi Cunshe 漸西村舍 edition.

The text deals with the cultivation of mulberry trees (Peiyang sangshu fa 培養桑樹法) and the raising of silkworms (Sican fa 飼蠶法). It is written in a lucid and clear language and thus easy to use as a textbook for sericulture. Somewhat later on, Zhang Zhenfu 章震福 from Gui'an 歸安, was inspired by his own experience of sericulture in the region of Huzhou 湖州, Zhejiang, and compiled the book Hucanshuo 湖蠶說. Zhang approached Shen Zhu and suggested to revise the text once more, which resulted in the book's version Guang cansang shuo jibu jiaoding 廣蠶桑說輯補校訂, published in 1890. The first edition in moveable letters was published in 1917.

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