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Shepu 蛇譜

Mar 25, 2021 © Ulrich Theobald

Shepu 蛇譜 a book on snakes written during the early Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Chen Ding 陳鼎 (b. 1650), courtesy name Dingjiu 定九.

Although Chen hailed from the province of Jiangsu, he accompanied his father to Yunnan, where he lived for some time, and married a woman of a local tribe. Chen was very accustomed to the southern regions. He is better known for his biographical books Donglin liezhuan 東林列傳 and Liuxi waizhuan 留溪外傳. Chen also wrote a book on native marriage customs, Pangqian tusi hunli ji 滂黔土司婚禮記 (also known as Dongzhong fengtu ji 洞中風土記), a book on southwestern bamboos (Zhupu), and lychee (Lizhipu 荔枝譜).

The brief text of the Shepu is not a scholarly study, but a collection of 63 stories of extraordinary snakes (52 species or kinds) from south China, and the regions of non-Chinese populations in particular. The information Chen provides is helpful, and shows how snakes were used as domestic catchers of rats or to make food or medicine of. There are, however, a few errors, for instance, in identifying certain snakes as poisonous which are not.

The last part of the text is derived from the bizarre geography Shanhaijing 山海經. The text is included in the series Zhaodai congshu 昭代叢書 (part Bieji 別集).

Sources:
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin dauxe chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1871.
Zhang Binglun 張秉倫 (1993). "Shejing tiyao《蛇譜》題要", in Gou Cuihua 茍萃華, ed. Zhongguo kexue jishu dianji tonghui 中國科學技術典籍通彙, part Shengwu 生物卷 (Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 757-758.
蜀漢 (221-263)