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Xiyu tuzhi 西域圖志

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Huangyu xiyu tuzhi 皇輿西域圖志 "Illustrated treatise on the imperial Western territories" is a description of the region of Eastern Turkestan (by the Chinese called Xinjiang 新疆) from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). It was compiled on imperial order after the conquest of Dzungharia in 1755. The newly won territory had to be surveyed and was to be described in an official standard book. Grand Academician (daxueshi 大學士) Liu Tongxun 劉統勳 took over the responsibility for the compilation. Under the guidance of He Guozong 何國宗, several Jesuit geodesists traveled to the west where they started surveying the landscape north and south of the Tianshan Range 天山. When this task was fulfilled, in 1761, the military archive (fanglüeguan 方略館) started compiling the Xiyu tuzhi, which was finished in 1762. In 1777 the emperor ordered to do a revision of the book which was finished in 1782.
In the first four juan "scrolls", the general background of the area is discribed, enriched with laudatory poetry partially written by the Qianlong Emperor 乾隆 (r. 1735-1795) himself. In 48 juan the geography, history, administrative system, garrison system, tributes, monetary questions, education, bestowment of hereditary ranks, customs and habits, music, local products, and the various local tribes are described. The Xiyu tuzhi used a lot of sources, from the official dynastic histories to correspondences between the garrisons and the central government. It is therefore a very valuable source for the study of the history of the region, not only for late imperial China but also from earlier times. The treatise is illustrated with an overview map, 21 detail maps, and 12 maps showing the historical development of the region.


Source: Chen Kewei 陳可畏 (1992), "Xiyu tuzhi 西域圖志", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 3, p. 1282.

September 15, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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