The Four Categories of Literature
Anthologies and Collected Works
The Mengqiuji 蒙求集 "Helpful collection for first education", also called Mengqiu 蒙求, is a short encyclopedia written by the Tang period 唐 (618-907) writer Li Han 李瀚. The title is also Mengqiu ji zhu 蒙求集註, referring to the commentary of the Song period 宋 (960-1279) writer Xu Ziguang 徐子光. The original book was 2 to 3 juan "scrolls" long. The title is derived from the hexagram meng 蒙 in the Confucian Classic Yijing 易經.
The special topic of this encyclopedia are examples in history of good and evil behaviour. The 596 entries are arranged in rhymed double-pairs of short sentences, composed to make them easy to memorize. The encyclopedia thus belongs to the group of textbooks for early learning. Li Liang 李良, a contemporarian, has written a table to the book, the Mengqiubiao 蒙求表. The Mengqiu ji zhu is included in the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
The particular style of the Mengqiu has been copied by later authors, for example Wang Ling 王令 (Shiqishi mengqiu 十七史蒙求) from the Song period, or Hu Bingwen 胡炳文 from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) who has written the Chunzheng mengqiu 純正蒙求.
Buzhu mengqiu 補注蒙求
The Bu zhu mengqiu 補注蒙求 is a commentary to the Tang period 唐 (618-907) encyclopedia Mengqiu 蒙求 and was written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Xu Ziguang 徐子光. It is 3 juan "scrolls" long. Xu has fused each two verses to pairs, to which he wrote a short commentary, as well as a very short headwort (biaoti 標題) for each person characterising his moral conduct, like haoxian 好賢 "worthy", xunli 循吏 "benevolent official", or xiaoyi 孝義 "filial and righteous". The commentary is therefore also called Biaoti buzhu mengqiu 標題補注蒙求 "Mengqiu with additional notes and headlines".
A Song period print is preserved that is stored in the Museum of Shanghai 上海博物館.
The Shiqishi mengqiu 十七史蒙求 is an encyclopedia written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Wang Ling 王令, compiled in imitation to Li Han's 李瀚 Mengqiu 蒙求 from the Tang period 唐 (618-907). It is 16 juan "scrolls" long and quotes literary allusions from the official dynastic histories (at that time seventeen), but without chronological or topical divisions. It is written in four-character verses, in couplets of four verses. It is not known who had arranged the book and who commented the poems. The Shiqishi mengqiu was printed in 1710 by a Master Cheng 程.
The Chunzheng mengqiu 純正蒙求 is an encyclopedia written by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Hu Bingwen 胡炳文, compiled in imitation to Li Han's 李瀚 Mengqiu 蒙求 from the Tang period 唐 (618-907). The book is 3 juan "scrolls" long and includes 360 verses, arranged in topics, with commentaries. In the first part the human relationships and social hierarchy are treated, in the second part personal behaviour and comportment, in the third part human interactions. The book Bailudong gui 白鹿洞規 provided the ideas. It quotes many allusions from the Confucian Classics.
The Guang mengqiu 廣蒙求 is a supplement to the Song period 宋 (960-1279) encyclopedia Shiqishi mengqiu 十七史蒙求. It was written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Yao Guanglu 姚光祿. In its structure, the Guang mengqiu imitates the Shiqishi mengqiu. Its double sentences, nontheless, are not written in rhymes and therefore not very adequate for elementary learning. The comments of Yao Guanglu are rated as too short. The Guang mengqiu is 37 juan "scrolls" long.
The Xunnü mengqiu 訓女蒙求 is a book for education of girls written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Xu Boyi 徐伯益. It imitates Li Han's 李瀚 book Mengqiu 蒙求 but presents historical examples of women, arranged in several chapters. The text is written in four-character verses with rhymes. The book has not attracted a greater attention because the examples it provides are very commonplace and also to be found in many other books.
The Xunnü mengqiu has been preserved in fragments quoted in the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) encyclopedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典.
The Lidai mengqiu 歷代蒙求 was written by the by Song period scholar Wang Rui 王芮. A commentary was written by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Zheng Zhensun 鄭鎮孫. Its content might have been similar to the Shiqishi mengqiu 十七史蒙求. It is lost.
The Zuoshi mengqiu zhu 左氏蒙求注 was written by the Yuan period scholar Wu Hualong 吳化龍 and is enriched by a commentary compiled by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholars Xu Naitao 許乃濤 and Wang Qingling 王慶麟. The Zuoshi mengqiu is an imitation of Shiqishi mengqiu 十七史蒙求 but is focused on quotations from the historiographic Confucian Classic Zuozhuan 左傳. It is written in four-character verses, the commentary is in prose. The book has the appearance of a primer for ancient history.
The Biaoti buzhu mengqiu 標題補注蒙求 is an enlarged commentary to Li Han's Mengqiu and its commentary by Xu Ziguang 徐子光, the Buzhu mengqiu 補注蒙求. The book was compiled by the Ming period scholar Gu Qilun. 顧起綸. It is 3 juan "scrolls" long, the original version probably 8 juan. There were two different versions in circulation during the 18th century, a 2 juan version with original commentary of Xu Ziguang, and a 3 juan version with a headline (biaoti 標題) indicating the moral comportment of the person in regard.
There is a print from 1573 made in Gu Qilun's Qizi Studio 奇字齋.
The Liushi mengqiu buzhu 李氏蒙求補注 in 6 juan is another commentary to Li Han's Mengqiu written by the Qing period scholar Jin Sanjun 金三俊. The main sources of Jin's commentar were histories and their commentaries. His book is enriched with short biographies.
Sources: Li Ming 黎明 (1993), "Mengqiu 蒙求", in Zhongguo xiaoxue jiaoxue baike quanshu 中國小學教學百科全書, Yuwen 語文 (Shenyang: Shenyang chubanshe), p. 90. ● Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, pp. 2036, 2037, 2045, 2046, 2053. ● Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (ed. 2005), Zhongguo leishu 中國類書 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe), pp. 50, 138, 140, 162, 144, 173, 174, 221, 269, 482-483.
October 31, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
Chinese Literature over time