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Chinese Literature
Zhenla fengtu ji 真臘風土記


The Four Categories of Literature
Zhenla fengtu ji 真臘風土記 "Land and people of Cambodia" is a description of the ancient kingdom of Cambodia, by the Chinese called Zhenla 真臘. It was written Zhou Daguan 周達觀 who had visited the country as a Chinese ambassador during the years 1295 to 1297.
Zhou describes the travel route, the city of Angkor, the royal palace, the officials, religion, persons and their customs and habits, the language, their ways of living, festivities, agriculture, trade, the landscape, animals, and much more. The book is not only interesting because it is the earliest detailed description of one single country in Southeast Asia but also because it fills a gap in the official history of the Yuan dynasty 元 (1279-1368), in which Zhenla is not described in the chapter on foreign countries (Yuanshi 元史 208-210 Waiyi 外夷 1-3).
The earliest print of the Zhenla fengtu ji is included in Tao Zongyi’s collectaneum Shuofu 說郛. During the following centuries the book is included in most of the large collectanea, namely the Gujin shuohai 古今說海, Lidai xiaoshi 歷代小史, Gujin yishi 古今逸史 and Baichuan xuehai 百川學海 from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) reprint of the Shuofu, the encylopedia Gujin tushu jicheng 古今圖書集成, the Siku quanshu 四庫全書, and a print by Master Xu 許氏 from Rui'an 瑞安. In 1981 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 published an edition annotated and commented by Xia Nai 夏鼐, the Zhenla fengtu ji jiaozhu 真臘風土記校注. There are a lot of translations into foreign languages.


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Source: Lu Junling 陸峻岭 (1992), "Zhenla fengtu ji 真臘風土記", 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, pp. 1520-1521.

July 17, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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