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Xiyu wenjian lu 西域聞見錄

Sep 12, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Xiyu wenjian lu 西域聞見錄 is a book on Xinjiang based on "what the author heard and saw". It was written by the Manchu Cišiyi 七十一 (jinshi degree 1754, d. 1785?) from the clan Nimaca 尼瑪查氏, courtesy name Chunyuan 椿園, from the Manchu Plain Blue Banner (zhenglanqi 正藍旗).

The book has a length of 8 juan and was finished in 1777. Cišiyi was surveillance commissioner (guanchashi 觀察使) of the circuit of Zhendi 鎮迪道 and thus highest official in the region of Aksu 阿克蘇.

The book begins with a map. It narrates the history of Xinjiang, particularly its conquest by the Qing 清 (1644-1911), presents treatises of the tribes region like Kazaks or Burut (Qirqiz), customs and habits of the Uyghurs, and includes a table of courier stations.

It is transmitted under many different titles as manuscript versions (many of them abbreviated), namely Xiyu ji 西域記 (1814, Weijing Shutang Studio 味經書堂), Yiyu suotan 異域瑣談, Xiayu suotan 遐域瑣談, Xiyu jiuwen 西域舊聞, Xiyu zongzhi 西域總志 (1803), Xinjiang jilüe 新疆紀略 (series Xiaofanghuzhai yudi congchao 小方壺齋輿地叢鈔), Xinjiang waifan jilüe 新疆外藩紀略, Juntai daoli biao 軍臺道里表, Xinjiang cuoyao lu 新疆撮要錄 or Xinjiang yutu fengtu kao 新疆輿圖風土考 (1882, Shanghai Shizhai Studio 上海石齋; in the series Zhongguo difangzhi congshu 中國地方志叢書). A good print dates from 1835, series Qingzhaotang congshu 青照堂叢書.

The collection Xichui liu zhong 西陲六種 includes six writings of Cišiyi, four of which are identical with chapters from the Xichui yaolüe, but instead of the chapter Xichui jishi benmo 西陲紀事本末, the texts Toucheng jilüe 投誠紀略, and Panwang jilüe 叛亡紀略 are added. The chapter Juntai daoli biao 軍臺道里表 is called Xinjiang daoli biao 新疆道里表.

In general, the scholarly and historiographical accuracy of the book is not the best, but the multiplicity of editions shows how popular the book was.

Table 1. Contents of the Xiyu wenjian lu 西域聞見錄
1-2 新疆紀略 Geography, administration, military
3-4 外藩列傳 Tribes
5-6 西陲紀事本末 The conquest of the Western Borderlands
7 回疆風土記 Customs and affairs of the Uyghur land
8 軍臺道里表 Table of courier stations distance
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