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Chinese Literature
Shuipin 水品 "A Classification of (Tea) Waters"


The Shuipin 水品 "A classification of (tea) waters" is a book on the quality of waters for cooking tea compiled by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Xu Xianzhong 徐獻忠 (1493-1569), courtesy name Xu Bochen 徐伯臣. He came from Huating 華亭 (modern Songjiang 松江, Shanghai) and obtained the juren degree in 1525. His only post in the administration was that of magistrate (zhixian 知縣) of Fenghua 奉化. Xu Xianzhong has written the Baijia Tangshi 百家唐诗, Liuchao sheng'ou ji 六朝聲偶集, Yuefu yuan 樂府原 (all books on poetry and rhapsodies) and the Wuxing zhanggu 吳興掌故, a book on local stories in Wuxing, Jiangsu.
The Shuipin consists of 2 juan "scrolls". The first includes a general introduction into the topic and seven chapters explaining wells, purity, the course of water, sweetness, temperature, quality grades, and miscellaneous matters. The second juan analyzes of 34 particular waters of famous wells, creeks and ponds like the Shangchi Pond 上池水, the "cold cave wells" of Mt. Jinshan 金山寒穴泉, the waterfalls of the Penwu Cliff 噴霧崖瀑, the wells of Mt. Xishan in Wanxian 萬縣西山包泉, the Heavenly Master well in Yunyang 雲陽縣天師泉, the Flying Dragon well in Yanting close to Tongchuan 潼川鹽亭縣飛龍泉, the Numinous well in Suining 遂寧縣靈泉 or the well of the Spiritual Power 神功泉 of Mt. Magu 麻姑山神功泉. In the sixth chapter Xu Xianzhong assesses statement about waters by the old tea masters Lu Yu 陸羽 (Chajing 茶經) and Zhang Youxin 張又新 (Jian chashui ji 煎茶水記) from the Tang period 唐 (618-907). In the seventh chapter he explains Lu Yu's arguments for boiling water. The Shuipin includes several contradictions in the statements about the qualities of several wells and sources, but in total, it is a valuable text on traditional Chinese interpretation of water qualities, and has influenced later writings on that topic.
Some versions of the book present its title as Shuipin quanzhi 水品全帙 "The whole case of (texts on) water quality", but it is quite unclear why this title was chosen. The Shuipin was presented to the compilers of the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 by the governor of Zhejiang, but was not included in this collection. Yet it is included in the collectanea Shuofu 說郛 and Yimen guangdu 夷門廣牘.


Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1863. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

June 20, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail