An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xihu youlan zhiyu 西湖遊覽志餘

Mar 28, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Xihu youlan zhi 西湖遊覽志 (西湖游覽志) is a local gazetteer on the West Lake (Xihu 西湖) near Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang, and Xihu youlan zhiyu 西湖游覽志餘 (西湖遊覽志餘), also called Xizhu zhiyu 西湖志餘, a collection of further information on the lake and the city of Hangzhou, including countless stories and tales. Both were written during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Tian Rucheng 田汝成 (1503-1557), courtesy name Shuhe 叔禾, style Yuyang 豫陽, from Qiantang 錢塘 (close to modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang). He also wrote the books Yanjiao jiwen 炎徼紀聞, Longping jilüe 龍憑紀略, Liaoji 遼記 and Wuyi youyong 武夷遊詠.

The 26-juan long Xihu youlan zhiyu is basically a geographical report that includes a lot of stories and information about the spots around the West Lake and people living there. For the compilation, Tian Rucheng studied numerous books about the region of Hangzhou and learned about the importance of the West Lake for the cultural life of Hangzhou, the ancient capital of the Southern Song empire 南宋 (1127-1279).

It begins with a general description of the West Lake (1) and then provides to the reader details on the central spot, Mt. Gushan 孤山, and the buildings and institutions found there (2), and the southern (3-7) and northern mountains (8-11). The next part focuses on interesting places inside and outside the city, again split up in those located north and south of the Lake (12-23). The last fascicle describes famous buildings in the province of Zhejiang (24).

Tian incorporated information from older books like (Xianchun) Lin'an zhi (咸淳)臨安志, Ducheng jisheng 都城記勝 or Wulin jiushi 武林舊事. While these are more historiographical reports, Tian's book is very interested in the stories around Hangzhou and the West Lake. Some of these stories later developed into popular novels, like Zhou Ji's 周楫 (1446-1505) Xihu erji 西湖二集 or the anonymous Xihu yiji 西湖一集.

The collection Zhiyu has a length of 26 juan. It is divided into 13 chapters arranged according to content and the status of persons: emperors and princes (1-2), scholars in seclusion (3), minions (4-5), persons evading turbulence and living lonely and desolate (6), "worthies" (7-9), talents (10-13), foreigners (14-15), women (16), writers (17-18), "skilled persons" (19), stories from the court (20), from the streets and urban quarters (21-25), and bizarre events (26). Some of the tales narrated in the Xihu youlan zhiyu were later used in collections of popular tales, like the anonymous Xihu yiji 西湖一集 or Zhou Ji's 周楫 (1446-1505) Xihu erji 西湖二集.

Both books first printed in 1547, and there is another print surviving dating from the Wanli reign-period 萬曆 (1573-1619). They are included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and the collection Wulin zhanggu congbian 武林掌故叢編.

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Qu Shuiyuan 屈水源 (2018). "Lun Xihu mengxun de wenben tedian ji jiazhi: Yi xing Xihu youlan zhi de huwenxing guanxi wei zhongxin 論《西湖夢尋》的文本特點及價值——以與《西湖遊覽志》的互文性關係為中心", Anhui Nongye Daxue xuebao (Shehui kexue ban) 安徽農業大學學報(社會科學版), 2018 (9).
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Yue Weizhong 樂衛忠 (2005). "Xihu youlan zhi 西湖游覽志", in Li Guohao 李國豪 et al., ed. Zhongguo tumu jianzhau baike cidian 中國土木建筑百科辭典, Vol. Chengshi guihua yu fengjing yuanlin 城市規劃與風景園林 (Beijing: Zhongguo jianzhu gongye chubanshe), 236.
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