An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Yupin 魚品 and Jiangnan yuxian pin 江南魚鮮品

Mar 24, 2021 © Ulrich Theobald

Jiangnan yuxian pin 江南魚鮮品 "Fish species from the Lower Yangtze" is a very short text written during the early Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Chen Jian 陳鑒 (1594-1676), courtesy name Ziming 子明, from Huazhou 化州, Guangdong. Chen also wrote a commentary on tea, Huqiu chajing zhubu 虎丘茶經注補, and the book Caogu shiliu guan 操觚十六觀.

His book on fishes includes 21 descriptions of fishes in south China and is one of the first specialized texts of biology. It is based on an older text on the issue called Yupin 魚品 (included in the series Shuofu xu 說郛續) and written by Gu Qiquan 顧起元 (jinshi degree 1598), courtesy name Taichu 太初, style Dunyuan Jushi 遯園居士, from Nanjing. The Yupin focuses on fishes living in the Yangtze close to Nanjing.

The book of Chen Jian leaves out the fish species hilsa herring (Tenualosa reevesii, shiyu 鰣魚) and "knife" shad (? daoji 刀鰶), and adds the pufferfish (hetun 河豚 or 河魨) and the yellow croaker (xiangyu 鮝魚). Each species is described with a few sentences concerning the physical properties as well as ways of consumption, and in some cases also provides information on the ways of life of the species in question. The text is somewhat more detailed and exact compared with Gu's Yupin. In case of the fish ji {魚暨}(=鱸), for instance, the Yupin just speaks of one species, while the Jiangnan yuxian pin differentiates between luyu 鱸魚 (Japanese sea brass, Lateolabrax japonicus), and caihua xiaolu 菜花小鱸 (roughskin sculpin, Trachydermus fasciatus, modern name songjianglu 松江鱸). Yet in some cases, the Yupin is correct, like in the case of Leiocassis longirostris (hui 鮰, today called changwenwei 長吻鮠), which has, according to Yupin no fishscales, while Chen Jian alleges that it has. There are also contradictions like in the case of ji 鯽, which is once said to be a wild fish, and in another paragraph described as a species farmed in ponds (crucian carp).

Chen Jian's text is included in the series Tanji congshu 檀幾叢書.

Wang Yuhu 王毓瑚, ed. (1964). Zhongguo nongxue shulu 中國農學書錄 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 208.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 359, 535.
Xia Jinglin 夏經林 (1993). "Jiangnan yuxian pin tiyao《江南魚鮮品》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, 661-662.
蜀漢 (221-263)