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Chinese Literature
Zhupu 竹譜 "Notes on Bamboo" (by Dai Kaizhi 戴凱之)


There are several books with the title of Zhupu 竹譜 "On Bamboo". The first is a book from attributed to the Southern dynasties period 南朝 (420~589) author Dai Kaizhi 戴凱之, of whom not much is known. The other is a book on calligraphy written by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) author Li Kan 李衎 (see Li Kan's book Zhupu). There is a third book with the title of Zhupu written by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Chen Ding 陳鼎. The book Sunpu 筍譜 by the Song period 宋 (960-1279) monk Zanning is sometimes also referred to with the title Zhupu.
Dai Kaizhi (exact dates of life unknown), courtesy name Dai Qingyu 戴慶預, came from Wuchang 武昌 (modern Ezhou 鄂州, Hubei). The book Zhupu is listed in the imperial bibliography Jingjizhi 經籍志 in the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書, but no author is mentioned there. It is categorized as "systematic notes" (puxi lei 譜系類) text, but the bibliography in the history Jiutangshu 舊唐書 classifies it as an agronomical text (nongjia 農家) and attributes it to Dai Kaizhi. The Song period collectaneum Baichuan xuehai 百川學海 says that he lived during the Jin period 晉 (265-420) and writes his courtesy name as 戴慶豫.
Dai Kaizhi was a follower of the Daoist school of the Heavenly Teacher (tianshidao 天師道), according to which man is part of the nature and thus has to investigate natural phenomena in order to understand better his place in the universe. Another reason for authoring the book Zhupu was Dai Kaizhi's interest into the growing economy of the lower Yangtze region during the Southern dynasties period. Bamboo plays a very important role for construction work and as a raw material used for the production of daily needed items. Dai Kaizhi traveled a lot around Southern China, and his book Zhupu is a result of the observations he made. The book was at latest written at the beginning of the Southern Qi period 南齊 (479-502).
In his small book, written in four-syllable verses, Dai Kaizhi describes more than 40 kinds of bamboo, is appearance, the environmental conditions, the regions where it grows, and its use. Dai explains that "bamboo" is a general term for plants with a physical appearance between herb and tree. It can be divided into different types, either according to the outer appearance (three types, namely qiaomuxing 喬木型 "forest-like", guanmuxing 灌木型 "shrub-like", or tengben 藤本 "reed-like"), or according to the stability of the shaft (gang 剛 "hard", or rou 柔 "soft"). Dai uses a special terminology for his descriptions, like mu 目 "eyes for the internodia (modern term zhujie 竹節), kongzhong 空中 for a hollow internodium (modern term kongxin 空心), or an internodium with a very small hole (shizhong 實中). Dai also describes how the germinal sheet (sunpi 筍皮) of various kinds of bamboo drops off. The author further describes the natural environment in which the different kinds of bamboo grow, whether they are resistant to coldness and at what time the bamboo florescences open.
The main text is arranged in headlines, which are then explained by quotations from all kinds of literature. Dai Kaizhi's book was often quoted by later sources and became an inspiration for later compilations on that topic, like the books with the same title mentioned above, and Wang Meizhi’s Xu zhupu 續竹譜 "Supplement to the Zhupu".
The original book was lost and has been reconstructed from quotations by the Song period scholar Zuo Gui 左圭. It was first printed during the Song period and is included in many collectanea, like the Baichuan xuehai 百川學海 and the Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
Chen Ding's Zhupu from the Qing period is specialized on extraordinary species of bamboo. It describes more than 60 of such species. It is to be found in the collectaneum Zhaodai congshu 昭代叢書.


Sources:
Gou Cuihua 茍萃華 (1993). "Zhupu tiyao 竹譜提要", in: Zhongguo kexue jishu dianji tonghui 中國科學技術典籍通彙, Shengwu juan 生物卷, vol. 1, pp. 59-61. Ed. Ren Jiyu 任繼愈/Gou Cuihua 茍萃華. Zhengzhou: Henan jiaoyu chubanshe.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1865.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

November 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail