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Chinese Literature
Shilin guangji 事林廣記 "Vast Records of the Matters Forest"


The Shilin guangji 事林廣記 "Vast records of the matters forest" is a kind of encyclopedia for everyday use compiled by the late Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Chen Yuanjing 陳元靚. It was expanded during the Yuan 元 (1279-1368) and Ming 明 (1368-1644) periods.
As an encyclopedia the Shilin guangji contains a very wide range of topics dealt with. Its characteristics in comparison with other contemporary encyclopedias like the Taiping yulan 太平御覽 or the Yuhai 玉海 is that is contains a lot of information about daily life in the urban markets, like calculation methods of merchants, or colloquial terms, and that it provides a large amount of illustrations. The latter feature provided an important example for later encyclopedias, like the Sancai tuhui 三才圖會, but also the large Gujin tushu jicheng 古今圖書集成.
Because the book was not imperially issued it was reprinted as the market desired and therefore many different versions are available, each of them containing new chapters, additions and supplements. Chapters also vary in content, like the treatises about state offices, which were very different under the Song, the Yuan and the Ming dynasties. Today there are six versions surviving. The oldest is the 1330 version printed by the Jian'an Chunzhuang library 建安椿莊書院 and reprinted in 1963 by the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局. The second important version is that from 1325 which was reprinted in Japan in 1699. This version contains a lot of information on society and its language under the Mongol rule, and it shows how popular this old book still was among Chinese communities at the end of the 17th century.


Source: Hu Daojing 胡道靜 (1992). "Shilin guangji 事林廣記", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 2, pp. 945-946. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

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July 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail