Commentary on the Water Classic

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Commentary on the Water Classic
Weishui.png
A map of the Wei River from Shui Jing Zhu
Traditional Chinese 水經注
Simplified Chinese 水经注

The Commentary on the Water Classic or Shui Jing Zhu is a work on the ancient geography of China, describing the traditional understanding of its waterways and ancient canals, compiled by Li Daoyuan during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534 AD). The book is divided into sections by river, each described with its source, course, and major tributaries, including cultural and historical notes.

The work is much expanded from its source text, the older (and now lost) Water Classic (Shuijing). The original text described 137 different rivers in China and was traditionally credited to Sang Qin (桑欽) during the Han dynasty. Qing-dynasty scholars gave it a later date (during the Three Kingdoms period) because of the names of the counties and commanderies. Its authorship was then attributed to Jin Dynasty scholar Guo Pu. Li Daoyuan's 40-volume, 300,000-character version includes 1252 rivers.

Although very thorough for its time, it did repeat the earlier mistake of the "Tribute of Yu" in viewing the Min as the headwaters of the Yangtze. It was not until the Ming dynasty that Xu Xiake correctly listed the Jinsha as the principal source.

References[edit]

  • Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 3. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
  • Strassberg, Richard E.: Inscribed Landscapes: Travel Writing from Imperial China. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif. 1994
  • Cihai, Shanghai cishu chubanshe, Shanghai 2002, ISBN 7-5326-0839-5

External links[edit]