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Jianhui 箋卉

Mar 25, 2021 © Ulrich Theobald

Jianhui 箋卉 is a book on herbs growing on Mt. Huangshan 黃山 written by Wu Song 吳菘 (fl. 1698), courtesy name Qiyuan 綺園, from Shexian 歙縣, Anhui.

Notes on useful herbs and plants growing in the region of Mt. Huangshan were written down by Buddhist monks since ancient times, for instance, Xue Zhuang 雪莊 (fl. 1693, Buddhist religious name Daowu 道悟), who also illustrated the landscape Mt. Huangshan in his collection Huanghaishan huatu 黃海山花圖, with several dozen images of plants. In the descriptive book catalogue Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目提要, Xue Zhuang is erroneously called Xue Hua 雪花.

Based on these earlier works, Wu Song compiled a new, brief book with explanations on each plant. The texts consists of 35 paragraphs. The descriptions are of importance because they are dedicated to endemic plants not known in other parts of China and not described in important reference books like Ji Han's 嵇含 (263-306) Nanfang caomu zhuang 南方草木狀 or Zheng Qian's 鄭虔 (691-759) Bencaoji 本草記. Wu describes the appearance, colour, odour, and habitat, as well as the plants' influence on humans. The descriptions are so exact that quite a number of plants can be identified, for instance jinlümei 金縷梅 as witch-hazel (Hamamelis japonica), or jingjiehua 旌節花 as Stachyurus praecox.

Xue Zhuang's paintings and Wu Song's text were famous at the time. The governor of Jiangsu, Song Luo 宋犖 (1634-1714), even wrote a laudatory poems for the collection, Huanghai shanhua tu yong 黄海山花圖詠, or – in Linking's (Ch. Linqing 麟慶, 1791-1846) collection – Huanghai qipa tu 黃海奇葩圖 and Huanghai shanhua tu 黃海山花圖 in the collection of Shi Shuqing 史樹青 (1922-2007).

Wu Song's text, published around 1698, was published separately for the first time in the series Zhaodai congshu 昭代叢書, and in the 1937 collection Huangshan congkan 黃山叢刊, where it is called Huijian 卉箋.

Sources:
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, 1870.
Zhang Binglun 張秉倫 (1993). "Jianhui tiyao《箋卉》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, 665-668.
蜀漢 (221-263)