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Leipian 類篇

Oct 29, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Leipian 類篇 "Categories book" is a character dictionary whose entries are arranged according to character radicals. It was compiled on imperial order during the Northern Song period 宋 (960-1279) by Wang Zhu 王洙 (997-1057), Hu Su 胡宿 (995-1067) and Zhang Yuxi 掌禹錫 (990-1066) and submitted to the throne in the name of Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086) in 1067. Sima Guang is therefore known as the "author" of the Leipian.

The Leipian was promulgated by the emperor together with the dictionary Jiyun 集韻, in which the characters were arranged according to rhyme groups. Both book were intended to serve as a complement to each other.

The Leipian is divided into 14 chapters, plus one register, each chapter being divided into two parts. The characters are arranged according to the 540 radicals first used by the Later Han-period 後漢 (25-220) dictionary Shuowen jiezi 說文解字, with only minor changes in the sequence of the radicals. It contains 31,319 characters, which is more than the double number than contained in the older dictionary Yupian 玉篇. It also included characters not recorded in the Jiyun, but on the other hand also left out some alternative characters listed in the Jiyun.

Figure 1. Examples from the Leipian 類篇
Examples from the section of the radical 示 "divine matters". It can be seen that for quite a few characters, alternatives are provides. The lemmata are explained concerning pronunciation and meaning. Siku quanshu 四庫全書 edition.

For each character first the pronunciation is given according to the fanqie system 反切, and then the meaning(s). The Leipian contains many new characters which had only been created during the Tang 唐 (618-907) and Song periods.

The oldest print was published by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Cao Yin 曹寅 (1658-1712), the so-called Lianting wuzhong ben 楝亭五種本 edition. The most commonly used print is that of Yao Jinyuan 姚覲元 (d. 1902), the so-called Yao ke sanyun ben 姚刻三韻本 edition.

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