Item ID: 10043 Qie yun kao 切韻考 [Examination of the “Spelled Rhymes”] [with] Qie yun kao wai pian 外篇 [Supplementary Chapters to “Examination of the ‘Spelled Rhymes’”]. Li 陳澧 CHEN.

A Book that “Opened Up a New Subfield of Philology”

Qie yun kao 切韻考 [Examination of the “Spelled Rhymes”] [with] Qie yun kao wai pian 外篇 [Supplementary Chapters to “Examination of the ‘Spelled Rhymes’”].

Three vols. Large 8vo, orig. wrappers & stitching. Chengdu: Weinan Yan shi 渭南嚴氏, 1930.

An uncommon edition of this important study of Middle Chinese phonology by a leading scholar of the 19th century. Qieyun [Spelled Rhymes] is the oldest known “rhyme book,” or phonological dictionary. It was compiled in 601 CE by Lu Fayan, who lived under the Sui dynasty. Rhyme books like Qieyun were originally intended to aid in the writing of poetry, but over time they took on other purposes. By the Qing period, older rhyme books were treated as sources for the sound system used at the time when they were compiled, and this is also how Chen Li used Qieyun in our book. Despite the importance that Qieyun has assumed in phonological research, the book was not generally accessible in the Qing period, so scholars were generally compelled to rely on later works. Chen was a pioneer in choosing this particular dictionary as his object of study.

Chen Li (1810-82) was a “Cantonese textual and geographical expert” (Elman, From Philosophy to Philology, 206) associated with Xuehai Tang, or “Sea of Learning Hall,” the prestigious academy in Guangzhou that contributed so much toward making the city a center for intellectual life in the 19th century. “Not only was Chen Li’s work [i.e., our book] pioneering in the sense that it opened up a new subfield of philology, but it also represented one of the earliest Cantonese contributions to Qing evidential research” (Miles, The Sea of Learning, 207).

Qie yun kao was finished in 1842. The additional chapters have an author’s Preface dated 1879 (Guangxu 5). It carries a colophon by Sea of Learning Hall co-director Liao Tingxiang 廖廷相 (1844-98) dated 1884 (Guangxu 10).

The cartouche with the publisher’s imprint specifies that specifies that the blocks were carved on the basis of the Dongshu congshu 東塾叢書 edition. Dongshu congshu, or “Serial Publications from the Eastern School,” was a collection of works by Chen Li. The printer and publisher, Yan Shihui 嚴式誨, published a series of phonological works.

Fine set, preserved in a hantao.

Price: $500.00

Item ID: 10043