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Yudi jisheng 輿地紀勝

Sep 14, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Yudi jisheng 輿地紀勝 "Exhaustive description of the empire" is an imperial geography from the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279). It was compiled by Wang Xiangzhi 王象之 (1163—1230), courtesy name Yifu 儀父 or Xiaofu 肖父, and comprises 200 juan dealing with the geography within the borders of the Southern Song empire.

The book starts with the then-capital Lin'an 臨安 (modern Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang) and describes all prefectures (first-class, fu 府; second-class, zhou 州; military, jun 軍; and industrial, jian 監). Wang Xiangzhi started compiling his geography by himself, without imperial order.

For the prefectures, Wang provides twelve chapters dealing with the administrative history, the districts (xian 縣) within the prefecture, customs and habits, landscape and territory, tourist spots of interest, eminent officials, eminent personalities, eminent monks, tombstones with inscriptions, monasteries, and so on. As a privately book it is very informative and to some extent fills a gap in official historiography. It therefore soonly attracted the attention of scholars and officials because of its accurateness in the treatment of the primary sources Wang had used.

There is a collection of maps appended, called Yuditu 輿地圖, in 16 juan, which are particularly precise for the region of Sichuan where Wang Xiangzhi had served as a prefect. The Yudi jisheng is especially valuable for it quotes sources which are otherwise lost, like the Gaozong shengzheng 高宗聖政, Xiaozong shengzheng 孝宗聖政, or Zhongxing yishi 中興遺史.

The Yudi jisheng was already printed during the Song period. During the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) the tombstone inscriptions were extracted and separately published, as Yudi beiji 輿地碑記 "Stone inscriptions from the Imperial Geography" in 4 juan. At that time, already 7 juan of the Yudi jisheng missing.

In 1849, when it was printed anew, as much as 31 juan were lost, and of many chapters pages were missing. Liu Wenqi 劉文淇 (1789-1854) and his son Liu Yusong 劉毓松 had attempted to reconstruct missing parts and added a critical apparatus. Their version was published in 1847 and comprised 52 juan. One year later Cen Jiangong 岑建功 published a supplement providing more missing parts, in 10 juan.

Sources:
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Cheng Yu 程郁 (1994). "Yudi jisheng 輿地紀勝", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Lishi 歷史卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 655.
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