An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Hucanshu 湖蠶述

Mar 2, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Hucanshu 湖蠶述 is a book on sericulture in the region of Huzhou 湖州, Zhejiang, compiled during the late Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Wang Yuezhen 汪曰楨 (1813-1881), courtesy name Xiecheng 謝城 or Zhongyong 仲雍, style Gangmu 剛木, from Wucheng 烏程, Zhejiang. Wang obtained the jinshi degree in 1852 and participated in 1872 in the revision of the local gazetteer Huzhou fu zhi 湖州府志 by compiling the respective chapter on sericulture.

His chapter was based on fragments of older books on the local silk industry like Gao Quan's 高銓 (1443-1511) Wuxing canshu 吳興蠶書, Dong Kairong's 董開榮 Yucan yaozhi 育蠶要旨 or Cheng Daihe's 程岱葊 Xiwu canlüe 西吳蠶略 (1845). Wang then decided to publish this chapter as a separate book, in order to reach a greater readership. Yet the book is only an abbreviated version of the gazetteer chapter. In his book, Wang commented on the sources he quoted and thus contributed much to practical knowledge about sericulture. The whole text has a length of 4 juan and has, in spite of being an agglomeration of quotations, a coherent structure. It touches on all important aspects of sericulture, from mulberry tree cultivation to silkworm breeding and the processing of cocoons and yarns and their marketization.

The book was finished in 1874 and was printed in 1880. It is included in the series Nongxue congshu 農學叢書 and Liqiang congkan 荔墻叢刻. In 1956, the Zhongha Shuju 中華書局 published a first modern edition. An edition annotated by Jiang Qiulong 蔣猷龍 was published in 1987 by the Nongye Press 農業出版社.

Huang Shirui 黃世瑞 (1995). "Hucanshu 湖蠶述", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Nongye lishi 農業歷史卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 142.
Nongye da cidian bianji weiyuanhui 《農業大詞典》編輯委員會, ed. (1998). Nongye da cidian 農業大詞典 (Beijing: Zhongguo nongye chubanshe), 660.
Wang Yuhu 王毓瑚, ed. (1964). Zhongguo nongxue shulu 中國農學書錄 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 275.
Wang Zhuangmu 王莊穆, ed. (1996). Zhongguo sichou cidian 中國絲綢辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo kexue jishu chubanshe), 639.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 860.
Zhang Buqing 章步青 (1987). "Tan Hucanshu zhong de yangcan jishu 談《湖蠶述》中的養蠶技術", Canye kexue 蠶業科學, 1987 (4): 237-241.