An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Huayi huamu niaoshou zhenwan kao 華夷花木鳥獸珍玩考

Mar 25, 2021 © Ulrich Theobald

Huayi huamu niaoshou zhenwan kao 華夷花木鳥獸珍玩考 is a kind of encyclopaedia on fauna, flora and objects of China and beyond. It was written during the late Ming period by Shen Maoguan 慎懋官 (fl. 1581), courtesy name Ruxue 汝學, style Dailizi 戴笠子, from Huzhou 湖州, Zhejiang.

Shan accompanied his father Shen Meng 慎蒙 (1510-1581) during his many travels through China and began in 1573 to write down what he had seen. His model was the book Quanfang beizu 全芳備祖, which makes use of lyrical and prose texts to gather information on particular objects. The book describes about 420 different plants and 200 animals.

6 fascicles are dedicated to plants (Huamu kao 花木考), 1 to animals (Niaoshou kao 鳥獸考), 1 to objects (Zhenwan 珍玩考), and two juan are supplements (Xukao 續考). The arrangement of the book is rather confused and presents older sources (more than 220 texts) as well as own statements. Some sources are indicated, but others not. Moreover, the author does not critically discuss his sources but throws together facts and fantasy, or even distorts the statements of his sources.

Nonetheless, some sources quoted by Shen were very rare at the time, and receive special attention in this book, as for instance, Yang Shen's 楊慎 (1488-1559) Danqianlu 丹鉛錄 and Sheng'an shihua 升菴詩話, Huang Zhong's 黃衷 (1474-1553) Haiyu 海語, Gu Jie's 顧玠 (fl. 1540) Haicha yulu 海槎餘錄, Yan Xingjian's 嚴行簡 (jinshi degree 1559) Shuyu zhouzi lu 殊域周咨錄, or Xue Jun's 薛俊 (fl. 1523) Riben kaolüe 日本考略.

The preface of the original, 10-juan version is dated 1581. An undated reprint includes a larger version of the supplementary part, leading to a 12-juan version. This long version (owned by the Shanghai Library 上海圖書館) also includes an appendix called Chengqutang ji 成趣堂記. A third copy that is a 1593 reprint of the 12-juan-version, is owned by the library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Zhongguo Kexueyuan 中國科學院), as is the surviving copy of the 10-fascicle version.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin dauxe chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1999.
Gou Cuihua 茍萃華 (1993). "Hua-Yi huamu niaoshou zhenwan kao tiyao《華夷花木鳥獸珍玩考》題要", in Gou Cuihua 茍萃華, ed. Zhongguo kexue jishu dianji tonghui 中國科學技術典籍通彙, part Shengwu 生物卷 (Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 287-288.
蜀漢 (221-263)