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Chinese Literature
Tao Zhugong zhifu qishu 陶朱公致富奇書 "Tao Zhugong's Wonderful Book of Acquiring Wealth"


The Tao Zhugong zhifu qishu 陶朱公致富奇書 "Tao Zhugong's wonderful book of acquiring wealth" is a book on agriculture written by an anonymous person in the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644). The book is also known under the titles Chongding zengbu Tao Zhugong zhifu quanshu 重訂增補陶朱公致富全書, Zengbu Zhifu qishu quanji 增補致富奇書全集, Zengbu Zhifu qishu 增補致富奇書, Chongding Zhifu quanshu 重訂致富全書 or Yungutang zengbu Tao Zhugong zhifu qishu guangji 藴古堂增補陶朱公致富奇書廣集. Tao Zhugong 陶朱公 was the style of Fan Li 范蠡, an advisor to the king of Yue during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) who, after retirement, engaged in agriculture. His name as that of an expert in fish-farming has been borrowed as a "marketing" strategy.
It deals with a wide range of agricultural topics from the cultivation of staple food to fruits and vegetables, bamboo, grasses, cattle breeding, silkworm raising, tools and instruments, daily activities and medicine. The book is divided into 4 juan "scrolls". The first scroll is divided into the chapters grain, vegtetables, trees, and fruits and explains one hundred different crops. Juan 2 gives an overview of flowers (75 species), medical herbs (20 species) and cattle and various animals (like silkworms, fishes, poultry and honeybees). It includes a farming calendar (Nongjiali 農家曆) with tables for all months. The third scroll talks about prognostication of the right time for farming activities and includes a lot of poems and rhapsodies on farming. The last part of the book covers a lot of various themes from medicine (massage and gymnastics) to diet in the course of the year.
The book quotes from a lot of ancient writings, some of which are annotated and commented. Yet there are also passages in the Tao Zhugong zhifu qishu that are not to be found in other books, for instance, about peanuts (huasheng 花生) that only came to China during the Ming period. Amaranth (xian 莧) and its various forms are also for the first time mentioned in this book. Similarly, the Zhifu qishu is the first book in which a relationship is established between fish-farming and the plants cultivated around the fish ponds.
The book was published more than twenty times during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1987 the Henan kexue jishu press 河南科學技術出版社 published a modern edition that includes a commentary by Sun Zhizhai 孫芝齋.


Source: Zhou Zhaoji 周肇基 (1995). "Tao Zhugong zhifu qishu 陶朱公致富奇書", in: Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Nongye lishi 農業歷史, Beijing: Nongye chubanshe, p. 315.

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June 18, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail