Yu was a native of present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi, and most notable for two works of his, the Weilüe (Brief History of Wei), and Dianlüe, which are listed in the Book of Sui as volumes 33 and 89 respectively. The Old Book of Tang listed 38 volumes of the Weilüe and 50 volumes of the Dianlüe, while the New Book of Tang 58 listed the Weilüe as containing 50 volumes.
Neither of these works are extant, however a chapter of the Weilüe was quoted as an extensive footnote to the Records of Three Kingdoms (composed by Chen Shou) in the (30th) section on the Wuhuan, Xianbei and Dongyi by Pei Songzhi during the 5th century. It served as an additional guide to the Western Regions on the book. The chapter has only survived because it was included as an extensive note to Records of Three Kingdoms.
According to the Shitong (written by Liu Zhiji during the Tang Dynasty), Yu was at one time the mayor of Luoyang, the capital of the Cao Wei dynasty (220-265 CE). Although it seems he never left China, he collected a large amount of information on the countries to the west of China including Parthia, India, and the Roman Empire, and the various routes to them. Some of this information had reached China well before Yu's time, and can also be found in the sections dealing with the Western Regions of the Records of the Grand Historian, the Book of Han, and/or the Book of the Later Han.
In spite of the inclusion of earlier (and sometimes fanciful) information, the Weilüe contains much new, unique, and generally trustworthy material. Most of it dates from the late second and early third centuries CE. It is this new information that makes the Weilüe such a valuable source. Much of it appears to date from the Eastern Han Dynasty, before China was largely cut off from the West by civil wars and unrest along its borders during the late 2nd century CE.
- See Tongshi Vol. 12, by Liu Zhiji (661-721).
- Hill (2004) Introduction.
- Chavannes (1905), pages 519-520.
- Lin Ying. “Ruler of the Treasure Country : the Image of the Roman Empire in Chinese Society from the First to the Fourth Century AD.” Latomus, T. 63, Fasc. 2 (AVRIL-JUIN 2004), pp. 328.
- Ma Zhijie (1993). History of the Three Kingdoms: Yu Huan's Weilüe. Beijing: People's Publishing House. pp. 406–410. ISBN 7-01-001271-7.
- Zhang Xinglang (1977). Collected Historical Sources of the History of Contacts Between China and the West Vol.1 : Weilüe's Xirong on Daqin. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju. pp. 38–43. ISBN 7-101-03030-0.
- Chavannes, Édouard (1905). Les pays d'occident d'après le Wei lio. T’oung pao Ser. 2:7. pp. 519–520.
- Hill, John E. (2004). The Peoples of the West from the Weilüe 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE. Draft annotated English translation. University of Washington.