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Chinese Literature
Quanfang beizu ji 全芳備祖集 "Well-Prepared Sources for All Herbs"

The Quanfang beizu ji 全芳備祖集 "Well-prepared sources for all herbs", shortly called Quanfang beizu, is a botanic encyclopedia written by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholar Chen Jingyi 陳景沂. The book was allegedly submitted to the throne during the reign of Emperor Li 宋理宗 (r. 1224-1264). It consists of two parts, a first collection (qianji 前集) in 27 juan "scrolls", and a second collection (houji 後集) in 31 juan, making a total of 58 juan. The Quanfang beizu is a handbook providing important information on a vast amount of plants of each kind, from plants, trees, roots and herbs to fruits, grains, vegetables and pharmaceutically used plants. The book is divided into 8 chapters with a lot of sub-chapters virtually covering all known and used plants of that time. For each single plant, informations from a wide amount of sources has been used, prose writings as well as poetry, literature as well as scientific treatises. The prose sources are assembled in a paragraph called shishizu 事實祖 "factual sources", the rhymed writings in a part called shiyongzu 賦詠祖 "versed sources". The factual sources are divided into three categories, namely suilu 碎錄 "trivia", jiyao 紀要 "important things" and zazhu 雜著 "miscellanea", the versed sources according to the length of the verses and the shape of the poem. The greatest part of the sources dates from the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126), and not a small amount of quotations can not be found in other books. The Quanfang beizu is a quite scientific and excellently arranged encyclopedia and is one of the oldest Chinese books focusing on plants. It served as a model for the encyclopedia Qunfangpu 群芳譜 by the Ming period scholar Wang Xiangjin 王象晉.
There is a Song period print from the Baoyou reign 寶祐 (1253-1258) surviving in Japan as a fragment, and there are several manuscript versions preserved. The Quanfang beizu is included in the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2041. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書, pp. 126-127. Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe.

前集 Qianji First collection
1.-27. 花卉 Huahui Flowers and herbs
後集 Houji Second collection
1.-9. 果部 Guo Fruits
10.-12. 卉部 Hui Herbs
13. 草部 Cao Grasses
14.-19. 木部 Mu Trees
20.-22. 農桑部 Nongsang Agriculture and sericulture
23.-27. 蔬部 Shu Vegetables
28.-31. 藥部 Yao Pharmaceutical plants
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

February 5, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail