Yiyu tuzan 異魚圖贊 (also written 異魚圖讚) "Praise-poems to illustrations of extraordinary (or bizarre) fishes" is a description of many species of fish compiled during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Yang Shen 楊慎 (1488－1559), courtesy name Yongxiu 用修, style Sheng'an 升庵.
Yang hailed from Xindu 新都, Sichuan, but his ancestors hailed from Luling 廬陵 (modern Ji'an 吉安, Jiangxi). He obtained the jinshi degree in 1511 and was appointed senior compiler (xiuzhuan 修撰) of the Hanlin Academy 翰林院. During the Jiajing reign-period 嘉靖 (1522-1566) he dared to remonstrate against Emperor Shizong's 明世宗 refusal to perform a correct legalization of his succession to the throne. Yang was punished by the cane and was banished to Yongchang 永昌, Yunnan. He was only pardoned after several decades and moved to Sichuan, where he died. Yang Shen was posthumously rehabilitated and was granted the posthumous title of a Vice Minister in the Court of Imperial Entertainments (guanglu shaoqing 光禄少卿), as well as the posthumous honorific name of Duke Wenxian 文憲公. Yang Shen is known as a famous writer and thinker of the Ming period. He wrote the travelogue Dianchengji 滇程記, a history of Yunnan, Nanzhao yeshi 南詔野史, the biji-style essay collections Danqian zonglu 丹鉛總錄 and Danqian zalu 丹鉛雜錄, the Sichuan book catalogue Quanshu yiwen zhi 全蜀藝文志, the phonological study Guyin lieyao 古音獵要, and the geographical commentary Chunqiu diming kao 春秋地名考.
According to the preface of the Yiyu tuzan, written in 1544, the author wrote this book to supplement older, illustrated texts like Xizhou huashi lu 西州畫史錄 or Nanchao yiyu tu 南朝異魚圖. These two books confounded the names of a lot of species, so that it was necessary to rectify these statements. Yang Shen studied the writings of Wan Zhen 萬震 (3rd cent., Nanzhou yiwu zhi 南州異物志) and Shen Huaiyuan 沈懷遠 (mid-5th cent., Nanyue zhi 南越志) on extraordinary objects and compared them with the older texts of Guo Pu 郭璞 (276-324) and Zhang Jun 張駿 (307-346). The latter were written in the style of "praises" (zanti 贊體). Correct statements were integrated into Yang's book, but others had to be amended. For all described species Yang Shen added drawings, but all of them are lost. The book of 4 juan length describes 87 species of fish. 86 of them were described in zan 贊-style "praise poems". The last fascicle includes descriptions of 35 species of river snails, shells, conches, clams and other marine products. These are described in 34 zan.
The book is not only interesting as a prove for an early scientific treatment of the realm of ichthyology, but also known for the excellent language in which the descriptions are written. The sources of Yang Shen are somewhat doubtful because it must be assumed that the Nanzhou yiwu zhi or the Nanyue zhi – contrary to what the preface says - were already lost during the time.
Yiyu tuzan jian 異魚圖贊箋 is a commentary on the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) book Yiyu tuzan 異魚圖贊 that was written by Yang Shen 楊慎 (1488-1559). The commentary came from the desk of the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Hu Shi'an 胡世安 (1593-1663), courtesy name Chujing 處靜, style Jutan 菊潭. He hailed from Jingyan 井研, Sichuan, and obtained the jinshi degree in 1628. He was appointed to the office of vice supervisor of the household of the Heir Apparent (shaozhanshi 少詹事) and later became a Grand Academician (daxueshi 大學士).
Hu's commentary includes Yang Shen's original text and adds remarks to it. The commentary refers to the names of fishes and sea creatures, their place of living, their shapes, characteristics, and, in case they were edible, their taste. Hu's commentary focuses on the names of the animals and rectifies a lot of errors in Yang's book. The sources Hu Shi'an made use of are so abundant that it his commentary is sometimes inconvenient just because of the mass of information he provided. Hu also left out some important sources and made some substantial errors.
Yiyu tuzan bu 異魚圖贊補 is a supplement to the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) book Yiyu tuzan 異魚圖贊 that was written by Yang Shen 楊慎 (1488-1559). The supplement was added by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Hu Shi'an 胡世安 (1593-1663), who had also written a commentary on Yang's book, Yiyu tuzan jian 異魚圖贊箋. According to the preface, the supplement was finished in 1618. It consists of 3 juan and a further supplement called Runji 閏集 "Intercalary collection".
In the first two fascicles, Hu Shi'an provides information to 154 species of fish, to which he adds 57 descriptive poems in the zan 贊-style "praise poem", as in Yang Sheng's original. The last juan includes the descriptions of 38 species of other eatable sea animals (haicuo 海錯), with 28 zan poems. The Runji collection describes more than 30 further species, all with descriptive poems. Hu Shi'an son Hu Pu 胡璞 and his employee Lei Wan 雷琯 coordinated the compilation of a commentary for this supplementary book. Index and content of the Yiyu tuzan bu do not fit with each other, and there are many shortcomings in the descriptive poems. It seems that the book was never proof-edited.