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Shi Chu congtan 使楚叢譚

Oct 25, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Shi Chu congtan 使楚叢譚 "Various talks from my mission to Hunan" is a short travel report written by Wang Chang 王昶 (1725-1806), who is also the also the author a several reports on a military campaign, Zheng Mian jilüe 征緬紀略, and several geographical books, You Longquan ji 游龍泉記, Dianxing rilu 滇行日錄, Yuzhang xingcheng ji 豫章行程記, Shang-Luo xingcheng ji 商洛行程記, Shujiao jiwen 蜀徼紀聞, a collection of rubbings of bronze and stone inscriptions, Jinshi cuibian 金石萃編, and a book on 'mushroom divination', Mu'er zhanji 木耳占記, which are all based on his own experience. His collected writings are called Chunrongtang ji 春融堂集.

His travel report to Hunan was compiled after he had been sent out in 1790 to investigate a case of malpractice, where taxes had two times been collected. In his book Wang describes four different judicial cases and his interviews with various persons, like Li Du 李杜 from Yingcheng 應城, who had unveiled a criminal case and travelled to Beijing to report to the authorities, Zhao Xuesan 趙學三 from Jiangling 江陵, who notified the authorities of the embezzlement by He Liangbi 何良弼 during the construction of dykes, or Wang Zeyuan 王澤遠 from Changsha 長沙, who discovered that the district magistrate had enforced dumping prices for the purchase of rice for the district granaries.

Apart form these cases, Wang also describes in a diary-like method the landscape and climate of the regions he came through, and discusses the influence of the land on the people and its administration.

The text is to be found in the series Shenbaoguan congshu xuji 申報館叢書續集 and Gujin shuobu congshu 古今說部叢書.

Sources:
Li 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, 1108.
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), 207.