An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Minshu 閩書

Sep 30, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Minshu 閩書 is a book on the province of Fujian, written during the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by He Qiaoyuan 何喬遠 (1558-1632), courtesy name Xixiao 樨孝, style Feiwo 匪莪, Yinju Jingshan 隱居鏡山 or Jingshan Xiansheng 鏡山先生, who hailed from Jinjiang 晉江, Fujian.

After a successful career as adirector in the Minitry of Rites (libu langzhong 禮部郎中), administration commissioner (buzhengshi 布政使) of Guangxi and Vice Chamberlain for the Imperial Stud (taipu shaoqing 太僕少卿), he returned, in 1629, to his home town and began to study books in local libraries. He is also known as the author of an inofficial history of the Ming dynasty, Mingshanzang 名山藏, and the collection Tanyang wenxian 潭陽文獻.

During his research on local history he collected reports on all eight commanderies, one prefecture, and 57 districts of Fujian, and started comparing the data in this book with other historiographical texts, erased superfluous statements, refined the text, and so revised the original so much that he compiled an own book with a length of no less than 154 juan.

The result was finished in 1616 and supplemented in 1620. The first print was published in 1629. The 22 chapters of the book cover a wide range of themes, from geography and administrative history, customs and habits, book publications, parks, rulers, military affairs, eminent persons, monasteries, "barbarians" (daoyi 島夷), shrines and temples (lingsi 靈祀), local products and customs and habits. The text of the book was structured in a manner similar to the Shujingzhu 水經注 "Commentary on the River Classic" by Li Daoyuan 酈道元 (466 or 472-527), first presenting a core text, and then commentaries on it. This is a great difference to the common structure of local gazetteers that are written as integral texts. The titles and arrangement of Wang's chapters also does not correspond to that of official gazetteers. His book was nevertheless often used and quoted as an excellent source on the province of Fujian.

A print from 1629 is owned by the Beijing Library (Beijing Tushuguan 北京圖書館).

Chen Shutong 陳叔侗, Zeng Yongzhi 曾永志 (2019). "Mingdai Bamin tongzhi, Mindaji, Minshu tiyao 明代《八閩通志》《閩大記》《閩書》提要", Fujian shizhi 福建史志, 2019 (10).
Hou Zhenping 侯真平 (1990). "Minshu guonei cunben bushi 《閩書》國内存本補識", Xiamen Daxue xuebao (Zhexue shehui kexue ban) 厦門大學學報(哲學社會科學版), 1990 (8).
Liu Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1287.
Wang Zhaoming 王兆明, Fu Langyun 傅朗云, ed. (1991). Zhonghua gu wenxian da cidian 中華古文獻大辭典, Vol. Dili 地理卷 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 269.