An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Yangyujing 養魚經

May 31, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Yangyujing 養魚經 "Book of fish-farming", also called Tao Zhu Gong yangyu fa 陶朱公養魚法 "Master Taozhu's methods of fish-farming", Tao Zhu Gong yangyu fang 陶朱公養魚方, Tao Zhu Gong yangyu jing 陶朱公養魚經, Zhongyujing 種魚經 "The classic of fish-breeding", or Yujing 魚經 "Classic of fishes" for short, was a treatise on raising fish allegedly written by Master Taozhu 陶朱公, who is better known with his personal name Fan Li 范蠡.

Fan was a grand master (dafu 大夫) at the court of the state of Yue 越 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). After retiring from politics, he withdrew to a private estate in Yangdi 陽地 (near modern Dingtao 定陶, Shandong), where is said to have written this book. His authorship, however, cannot be substantiated. The earliest prove for the existence of the book is the river geography Shuijingzhu 水經注 (ch. Mianshui 沔水), where it is said that Emperor Guangwu 漢光武帝 (r. 25-57 CE) had a fish pond constructed according to the rules describes in Fan Li's Yangyujing. The text must thus have existed during the late Western Han period 西漢 (206 BCE-8 CE). The same story was mentioned in the local gazetteer Xiangyangji 襄陽記 that is quoted in the story collection Shishuo xinyu 世說新語 (ch. Renting 任誕).

The imperial bibliography Jingji zhi 經籍志 in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書 says that the book was still listed in Liang-period 梁 (502-557) catalogues, but was already lost during the early Tang period 唐 (618-907). Yet there are quotations from it to be found in Jia Sixie's 賈思勰 (fl. 544) Qimin yaoshu 齊民要術 from the Northern Wei period 北魏 (386-534), where it is called Tao Zhugong yangyu jing. The bibliographical chapter in the dynastic histories Jiutangshu 舊唐書 and Xintangshu 新唐書 call it Yangyujing, and Fan Li yangyu jing, 范蠡養魚經, respectively. The Northern-Song-period 北宋 (960-1126) encyclopaedia Taiping yulan 太平御覽 quotes from the book Tao Zhugong yangyu fang.

Surviving fragments of the book were collected by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Ma Guohan 馬國翰 (1794-1857) and are to be found in his series Yuhanshanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書, where it is called Yangyujing. This title is also used in the fragment collection of the series Shuofu 說郛.

The surviving fragments describe the construction of fish ponds with nine "streams" and eight "ditches" which allow the fishes to retire to places appropriate to the moment, the selection, feeding and reproduction of fish, as well as modes of catching them in rotating manner (lunbu 輪捕).

In 1986 the Nongye Press 農業出版社 published a multi-language edition of these fragments (Chinese, English, Japanese, Russian, French, Spanish) with the title Fan Li yangyu jing.

The ancient Yangyujing must not be confounded with Huang Shengzeng's 黃省曾 (1490-1540) book Zhongyujing 種魚經 or Yujing that is part of the collection Nongpu si shu 農圃四書.

Chen Dingjun 施鼎鈞 (1990). "Yangyujing 養魚經", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Nongye 農業 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1420.
Jiaoyu da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 《教育大辭典》 編纂委員會, ed. (1991). Jiaoyu da cidian 教育大辭典, part 9, Zhongguo gudai jiaoyu shi 中國古代教育史 (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 267.
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. 2, 1644.
Nongye da cidian bianji weiyuanhui 《農業大詞典》編輯委員會, ed. (1998). Nongye da cidian 農業大詞典 (Beijing: Zhongguo nongye chubanshe), 1933.
Shi Dingjun 施鼎鈞 (1994). "Tao Zhugong Yangyujing 陶朱公養魚經", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Shuichanye 水產業卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), part 2, 502.
Wang Jingnan 王敬南 (1991). "Yangyujing zuozhe de tantao 《養魚經》作者的探討", Gujin nongye 古今農業, 1991 (2): 68-70.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 760.
Wu Jianxin 吳建新 (1995). "Tao Zhugong Yangyujing 陶朱公養魚經", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Nongye lishi 農業歷史卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 315.
You Xiuling 游修齡 (2003). "Guanyu chitang yangyu de zui zao jizai he Fan Li Yangyujing de wenti 關於池塘養魚的最早記載和范蠡《養魚經》的問題", Zhejiang Daxue xuebao (Renwen shehui kexue ban) 浙江大學學報 (人文社會科學版)2003 (3): 49-54.
You Xiuling 游修齡 (2004). "Chitang yangyu de zui zao jizai he Fan Li Yangyujing wenshi shijian wenti 池塘養魚的最早記載和《范蠡養魚經》問世時間問題", Dongwuxue zazhi 動物學雜誌, 2004 (3): 115-118.
Yu Xianyao 俞顯堯 (1997). "Qingban Fan Li Yangyujing bei faxian 清版范蠡《養魚經》被發現", Shuichan yangzhi 水產養殖, 1997 (4): 24.