Item ID: 10115 Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated]. Bingzhen 焦秉貞 JIAO, artist, Emperor of China KANGXI 康熙, sponsor.
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].
Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].

A Classic of Agriculture & Sericulture

Yu zhi geng zhi tu 御製耕織圖 [Agriculture & Sericulture Illustrated].

46 finely hand-colored full-page woodcuts (all ca. 244 x 238 mm.). Two parts in one vol. 100 panels (or pages). Large 4to (267 x 267 mm.), orig. silk over boards, manuscript title slip on upper cover, bound in orihon (accordion) style. [China: 18th or 19th century].

A beautiful edition of this famous illustrated work on Chinese agricultural and sericultural techniques. The hand-colored illustrations are based on the Song dynasty edition of 1237 by Lou Shou 樓璹 (1090-1162), the earliest Chinese book to illustrate all the steps in rice cultivation and silk production. The illustrations were quite influential, serving as models for images in later Chinese scientific books.

Lou Shou’s book remained a favorite of many Chinese emperors; the Kangxi emperor ordered Jiao Bingzhen (fl. 1689-1726) to revise and update Lou Shou’s work and issue it in a high-quality edition that might be distributed throughout the empire. This imperial edition, Yuzhi geng zhi tu, first issued in 1696, contained poems by the emperor and updated illustrations (showing tools and machinery of the Qing period). Its importance — both technological and historical — extended through several centuries, with a number of editions issued.

Our edition includes 46 black & white woodcut illustrations with explanatory descriptions. All of the woodcuts have been skillfully hand-colored. The Preface, dated 1696, was written by the Kangxi emperor. Each illustration is accompanied by a facing poem written by the emperor, all poems within a faintly printed decorative border.

The first 23 illustrations depict all the steps of rice cultivation, from soaking the rice seeds, preparing the paddies using oxen, sowing seeds, waiting and observing, fertilizing the paddies, planting the seedlings, maintaining the proper water levels in the paddies, irrigation techniques, the various steps of harvesting, drying the sheaves of rice, threshing, sifting, milling, and preparing the rice for storage. This was very much men’s work.

The second set of 23 illustrations shows the many steps of making silk, from feeding mulberry leaves to the silkworms, preparing and maintaining the cocoons, the selection process, harvesting mulberry leaves, placing the cocoons in hot water to prepare them to be wound onto reels, combining single filaments to form thread, dyeing, weaving using complex looms, examining the silk fabrics, making garments from the finished silk. Based on the illustrations, it is clear that the manufacture of silk was largely women’s work.

❧ Fine copy, preserved in a chitsu within an old wooden box. Our copy seems to be the same as Library of Congress Control Number 2014514380 (however, theirs is not hand-colored). The purple ink used in the Preface and decorative borders is quite faded but still legible.

Price: $22,500.00

Item ID: 10115