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Saibei jixing 塞北紀行

Sep 19, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Saibei jixing 塞北紀行, also called Zhang Dehui jixing 張德輝紀行, or just Jixing 紀行, and during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) Bianhou jixing 邊堠紀行 (as in the collection Xu shuofu 繼說郛) or Lingbei jixing 嶺北紀行, is a short account on Mongolia from the early Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) written by Zhang Dehui 張德輝 (1195-1274), courtesy name Yaoqing 耀卿, style Yizhai 頤齋, from Jiaocheng 交城 near Taiyuan 太原 (today in Shanxi).

He served the Jin dynasty 金 (1115-1234) in the Censorate (yushitai 御史臺), and then became a registrar (jingli 經歷) of Shi Tianze 史天澤 (1202-1275), commander of Zhending 真定 (today's Zhengding 正定, Hebei). In 1266 he was appointed consultant in the Palace Secretariat (canyi zhongshusheng shi 參議中書省事). Under the rule of Qubilai Qaɣan (Yuan Shizu 元世祖, r. 1260-1294), Zhang was made a Confucian lecturer of the emperor.

His book is a report on Zhang's participation in a travel to Mongolia to welcome Qubilai in 1247. The opening fascicle (juanshou 卷首) is missing. The text covers a journey of ten ten months and speaks of the landscape, mentions the remains of the Great Wall, military posts and fortifications of the Kitans, the pleasure palace of a princess, local tribes, the appearance of the Gobi Desert, and observations of agriculture.

The afterword (ba 跋) written by Hu Xiangrong 胡祥鑅 (jinshi degree 1898) adds information from contemporary authors and is thus of critical value. The first Western scholar interested in this book was the Archimandrite Palladij, Pjotr I. Kafarov (1817-1878), who wrote a critical translation.

The text is found in the series Huangchao fanshu yudi congshu 皇朝藩屬輿地叢書. It is accidentally integrated into the writings of Wang Yun 王惲 (1227-1304), Qiujian ji 秋澗集 (100 Yutang jiahua 玉堂嘉話), and is partially cited by Su Tianjue 蘇天爵 (1294-1352) in his biographical collection Yuanchao mingchen shilüe 元朝名臣事略.

Sources:
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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), 387.
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