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Encyclopaedias and Handbooks (leishu lei 類書類)

Jul 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Encyclopaedias and Handbooks (leishu lei 類書類) is a subcategory in traditional Chinese bibliographies and part of the category of Masters and Philosophers (zibu 子部). The Chinese term leishu designates a book explaining selected topics by quoting ancient literature talking about the respective theme. Most "encyclopaedias" are divided into chapters the sequence and content of which soon obtained a fixed character. They commonly begin with Heaven/sky and astronomy, geography, proceed to a wide range of themes on statecraft and end with objects of daily life as well as zoology and botany. They quote from all kinds of literature, from the Confucian Classics, the histories and the "masters", and a lot of leishu especially focus on poetry. Not a few authors even write their explanations to the particular themes in verses and thus contributed to the development of textbooks written in verses to make learning easier. There are specialized encyclopaedias as well as general encyclopaedias. Except thematic arrangement, some encyclopaedias also arrange keywords phonetically or according to character shape.
The oldest book identified as a leishu was Cao Pi's 曹丕 lost book Huanglan 皇覽. Of the Tang period 唐 (618-907) encyclopaedias, the Beitang shuchao 北堂書鈔, Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚, Chuxueji 初學記 and Baishi liutie 白氏六貼 created the fundaments for later enyclopedias. For modern scholars, the leishu are of great importance because a lot of books quoted are long since lost, so that at least fragments of these books are preserved in the encyclopaedias. Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholars produced a large amount of leishu, of which the four large encyclopaedias (Song si da shu 宋四大書) are very famous. Of these, the Taiping guangji 太平廣記 is actually a collection of stories, and the Wenyuan yinghua 文苑英華 a literary anthology. The most important Ming period 明 (1368-1644) encyclopaedia is the Yongle dadian 永樂大典, Chinas largest encyclopaedia compiled ever, which is only preserved in a few volumes. The Kangxi Emperor 康熙 (r. 1661-1722) had compiled the book Gujin tushu jicheng 古今圖書集成. The encyclopaedias section of the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 includes 65 books.

皇覽 * Huanglan (Cao-Wei) 劉劭 Liu Shao (et al.)
古今同姓名錄 Gujin tongxingming lu (Liang) 梁元帝 Emperor Liang Yuandi
編珠 Bianzhu (Sui) 杜公瞻 Du Gongzhan (?)
藝文類聚 Yiwen leiju (Tang) 歐陽詢 Ouyang Xun (et al.; imp. ord.)
群書治要 * Qunshu zhiyao (Tang) 魏徵 Wei Zheng
北堂書鈔 Beitang shuchao (Tang) 虞世南 Yu Shinan
龍筋鳳髓判 Longjin fengsui pan (Tang) 張鷟 Zhang Zu, (Ming) 劉允鵬 Liu Yunpeng (comm.)
初學記 Chuxueji (Tang) 徐堅 Xu Jian (et al.)
元和姓纂 Yuanhe xingzuan (Tang) 林寶 Lin Bao
白孔六帖 Bai-Kong liutie (Tang) 白居易 Bai Juyi, (Song) 孔傳 Kong Chuan
貞觀氏族志 * Zhenguan shizu zhi (Tang) 孔志約 Kong Zhiyue
姓氏錄 * Xingshilu (Tang) 高士廉 Gao Shilian etc.
小名錄 Xiaominglu (Tang) 陸龜蒙 Lu Guimeng
蒙求集註 Mengqiuji zhu (Tang) 李瀚 Li Han, (Song) 徐子光 Xu Ziguang
事類賦註 Shilei fuzhu (Song) 吳淑 Wu Shu
太平御覽 Taiping yulan (Song) 李昉 Li Fang (et al.; imp. ord.)
冊府元龜 Cefu yuangui (Song) 王欽若 Wang Qinruo, 楊億 Yang Yi (et al.; imp. ord.)
事物紀原 Shiwu jiyuan (Song) 高承 Gao Cheng
實賓錄 Shibinlu (Song) 馬永易 Ma Yongyi; 文彪 Wen Biao (rev.)
書敍指南 Shuxu zhinan (Song) 任廣 Ren Guang
海錄碎事 Hailu suishi (Song) 葉庭珪 Ye Tinggui
古今姓氏書辯證 Gujin xingshishu bianzheng (Song) 鄧名世 Deng Mingshi, 鄧椿年 Deng Chunnian (comp.)
帝王經世圖譜 Diwang jingshi tupu (Song) 唐仲友 Tang Zhongyou
職官分紀 Zhiguan fenji (Song) 孫逢吉 Sun Fengji
歷代制度詳說 Lidai zhidu xiangshuo (Song) 呂祖謙 Lü Zuqian
八面鋒 Bamianfeng (Song) 陳傅良 Chen Fuliang
錦繡萬花谷 Jinxiu wanhua gu (Song) anon.
事文類聚 Shiwen leiju (Song) 祝穆 Zhu Mu, (Yuan) 富大用 Fu Dayong, 祝淵 Zhu Yuan
記纂淵海 Jizuan yuanhai (Song) 潘自牧 Pan Zimu
全芳備祖集 Quanfang beizu ji (Song) 陳景沂 Cheng Jingyi
群書考索 Qunshu kaosuo (Song) 章如愚 Zhang Ruyu
合璧事類備要 Hebi shilei beiyao (Song) 謝維新 Xie Weixin
源流至論 Yuanliu zhilun (Song) 林駧/駉 Lin Tong/Jiong, 黃履翁 Huang Lüweng
玉海 Yuhai (Song) 王應麟 Wang Yinglin
小學紺珠 Xiaoxue ganzhu (Song) 王應麟 Wang Yinglin
小字錄 Xiaozilu (Song) 陳思 Chen Si
雞肋 Jile (Song) 趙崇絢 Zhao Chongxun
事林廣記 * Shilin guangji (Song) 陳元靚 Chen Yuanjing
翰苑新書 Hanyuan xinshu (Song) anom.
韻府群玉 Yunfu qunyu (Yuan) 陰勁弦 Yin Jingxuan, 陰復春 Yin Fuchun
純正蒙求 Chunzheng mengqiu (Yuan) 胡炳文 Hu Bingwen
永樂大典 * Yongle dadian (Ming) 解縉 Jie Jin, 姚廣孝 Yao Guangxiao (et al., imp. ord.)
喻林 Yulin (Ming) 徐元太 Xu Yuantai
同姓名錄 Tongxingming lu (Ming) 余寅 Yu Yin
說略 Shuolüe (Ming) 顧起元 Gu Qiyuan
天中記 Tianzhongji (Ming) 陳耀文 Chen Yaowen
山堂肆考 Shantang sikao (Ming) 彭大翼 Peng Dayi, 張幼學 Zhang Youxue
廣博物志 Guang bowuzhi (Ming) 董斯張 Dong Sizhang
三才圖會 * Sancai tuhui (Ming) 王圻 Wang Qi, 王思義 Wang Siyi
淵鑑類函 Yuanjian leihan (Qing) 張英 Zhang Ying, 王士禎 Wang Shizhen (imp. ord.)
駢字類編 Pianzi leibian (Qing) 吳士玉 Wu Shiyu, 沈宗敬 Shen Zongjing (imp. ord.)
分類字錦 Fenlei zijin (Qing) 何焯 He Zhuo, 陳鵬年 Chen Pengnian (imp. ord.)
子史精華 Zishi jinghua (Qing) 吳士玉 Wu Shiyu, 吳襄 Wu Xiang (imp. ord.)
佩文韻府 Peiwen yunfu (Qing) 張玉書 Zhang Yushu, 陳廷敬 Chen Tingjing (imp. ord.)
韻府拾遺 Yunfu shiyi (Qing) 張廷玉 Zhang Tingyu (imp. ord.)
格致鏡原 Gezhi jingyuan (Qing) 陳元龍 Chen Yuanlong
藝林彙考 Yilin huikaoMiscellaneous treatises (Qing) 沈自南 Shen Zinan
宋稗類鈔 Songbai leichao (Qing) 潘永因 Pan Yongyin
類書纂要 * Leishu zuanyao (Qing) 周魯 Zhou Lu
壹是紀始 * Yishi jishi (Qing) 魏崧 Wei Song
清稗類鈔 * Qingbai leichao (Republic) 徐珂 Xu Ke
太平御覽 Taiping yulan (Song) 李昉 Li Fang (et al.; imp. ord.)
冊府元龜 Cefu yuangui (Song) 王欽若 Wang Qinruo, 楊億 Yang Yi (et al.; imp. ord.)
太平廣記 Taiping guangji (Song) 李昉 Li Fang (et al.; imp. ord.)
文苑英華 Wenyuan yinghua (Song) 李昉 Li Fang (et al.; imp. ord.)

* not included in the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書, the catalogue Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 四庫全書總目題要, nor the Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書.