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Wenyuange shumu 文淵閣書目


The Four Categories of Literature
Wenyuange shumu 文淵閣書目 "Catalogue of the Hall of Literary Profundity" is a catalogue of the library in the Wenyuan Hall in the Imperial Palace. It was written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Yang Shiqi 楊士奇 (1365-1444). Yang Shiqi became member of the Hanlin Academy 翰林院 in 1399 and participated in the compilation of the "veritable records" (shilu 實錄) or official annals of the founder of the Ming dynasty, the Taizu shilu 太祖實錄. He climbed up the ladder of career to the position of Minister of War and was posthumously granted the title of Grand Preceptor (taishi 太師). In 1421 he moved to the new capital Beijing in the north where he took care for the imperial library that was housed in the Wenyuan Hall.
The original place of the Wenyuan Hall was near the Fengtian Gate 奉天門 in the Imperial Palace in Nanjing. When the Yongle Emperor 永樂 (r. 1403-1424) moved the capital to Beijing, the whole palace structure was transmitted to the new capital. The Wenyuan Hall was inaugurated in the right wing of the southern part of the new place compound. In 1421 the books were transferred from Nanjing to Beijing, where they were first stored in a corridor next the Zuoshun Gate 左順門. During the Xuande reign 宣德 (1426-1435) the imperial library included books of about 1 million juan "scrolls". These were during the Zhengtong reign 正統 (1436-1449) finally brought to the Wenyuan Hall where Yang Shiqi compiled the catalogue.
The Wenyuan Hall was still used as the imperial library under the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911). In 1774-1776 a new building was constructed behind the Wenhua Hall 文華殿 in imitation to the Tianyi Library 天一閣 in Ningbo 寧波, Zhejiang. This was made the new Wenyuan Hall where the main copy of the Siku quanshu 四庫全書 was stored, the so-called Wenyuan Hall copy 文淵閣本 since 1782. The Hall also housed the encyclopedia Gujin tushu jicheng 古今圖書集成 from the Kangxi reign 康熙 (1662-1722).
The 4 juan (or 12 juan) long catalogue of Yang Shiqi does, unfortunately, not include all books of the library. It was later printed in an abridged version by Bao Tingbo 鮑廷博. The catalogue also includes the shelf numbers of the books, following the sequence of characters in the Qianziwen 千字文. The whole arrangement is therefore different than in the traditional system of the four sections of Chinese literature. The first part (character 天) covers the dynastic history (guochao 國朝), and only the second part the Confucian Classics (characters 地玄黃), including books on lexicography and music. The third part (characters 宇宙) includes historiographic books and the fourt part (characters 洪荒) the "masters and philosophers". Histories and masters are only divided into the main category, miscellaneous texts, and appendices (like shi 史 "history", shi fu 史附 "history, appended", shi 史雜 "history, miscellaneous"). The fifth part (characters 日月) are prose belles-lettres (wenji 文集) and poems (shici 詩詞), the sixth part (character 盈) encyclopedias (leishu 類書), the seventh part (character 昃) rhyme dictionaries (yunshu 韻書) and family registers (xingshi 姓氏), the eight part (character 辰) calligraphic books (fatie 法帖) and books on painting (huapu 畫譜). The character 宿 covers books on politics (zhengshu 政書), books on law (xingshu 刑書), military treatises (bingfa 兵法) and boks on mathematics and astronomy (suanfa 算法). The character 列 stands for books on divination (yinyang 陰陽), medicine (yishu 醫書) and agriculture (nongpu 農圃), the character 張 for Daoist books, and the character 寒 for Buddhist writings. The last part of the catalogue (characters 來暑往) includes essays or treatises, divided into "ancient and new treatises" (gujinzhi 古今志), "old treatises" (guzhi 舊志) and "contemporary treatises" (xinzhi 新志).
The categories of the catalogue of the Wenyuan Library are only partially identical with the common patters. Books on calligraphy and painting, for example, are entirely new. The sequence of the main sections of the Confucian Classics, histories, masters and philosophers, and finally belles-lettres, is not adhered to. Some categories are very comprehensive, like the histories and the masters, while others are more detailed, like the last part, the treatises, or the rhyme dictionaries, which are normally subsumed under the lexicographic books.
The catalogue is also very simple. It does not list the names of the authors and does not comment the books in respect to their history or content, but at least provides the information if the book was complete or only present in parts, or totally missing. Inspite of these shortcomings the catalogue is an important list of books available at that time. It includes 7,256 books in total, of which about one third were printed, the rest were manuscripts.
The oldest print of the catalogue was made in 1800, in 20 juan, as part of the collectaneum Duhuazhai congshu 讀畫齋叢書. This edition does not include the postface by Bao Tingbo. Later editions were made in the collectanea Guoxue jiben congshu 國學基本叢書 and Congshu jicheng 叢書集成.

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Sources: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (ed. 1996), Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 1465. ● Zhang Rongqi 張榮起 (1992), "Wenyuange shumu 文淵閣書目", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Tushuguanxue qingbaoxue dang'anxue 圖書館學情報學檔案學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), p. 497.

February 19, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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