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Xihu zhi 西湖志

Dec 16, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Xihu zhi 西湖志 is a geographic treatise on the West Lake (Xihu 西湖) in Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang, compiled on imperial order under the supervision of Li Wei 李衛 (1688-1738, at the time governor-general of Zhejiang), Liang Shizheng 梁詩正 (1697-1763), Shen Deqian 沈德潛 (1673-1769), and Fu Wanglu 傅王露 (jinshi degree 1715).

The text was finished in 1731, and is 48-juan long. The earliest description of Lake Xihu was compiled by Tian Rucheng 田汝成 (1503-1557) during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). His Xihu youlan zhi 西湖游覽志 describes the lake and the surrounding landscape and the buildings to be found there. It was written in a less systematic style, but based on geographical treatises and historical accounts.

The Xihu zhi with its official character imitates the systematic structure of local gazetteers (difangzhi 地方志) and is divided into 20 chapters providing information on hydrology, landscape, dams, bridges, pavilions, monasteries, temples and shrines, ruines, famous persons, local products, tombs, stone stelae, literary products and paintings, and "miscellaneous" details. The text quotes from a rich treasure of ancient sources and includes 41 maps and illustrations, of which the general view on the scenery of the West Lake is exceptionally good.

A shortened revision called Xihu zhizuan 西湖志纂 was published in 1755. It includes 36 maps. A draft was 12-juan long, but the printed version has a length of 15 juan. The 12-juan version is included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Sources:
Li Zhongjun 李仲均 (1992). "Xihu zhi 西湖志", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書,Dilixue 地理學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 443.
Shen Zheshou 沈者壽, ed. (1993). Hangzhou cidian 杭州辭典 (Hangzhou: Zhejiang renmin chubanshe), 437, 438.