Two parts in one vol. Small folio, orig. wrappers (somewhat tired & a little soiled, some light staining & soiling here & there), manuscript title on upper cover, later stitching. [Hansong (Seoul): Kyujanggak (the Royal Library), Preface dated 1793 & 1796].
First edition of this handsome and large-format (323 x 217 mm.) royal publication. King Chongjo (1752-1800), was one of the most intellectual and enlightened of the Korean monarchs. Perhaps Korea’s greatest bibliophile, as royal patron he supported all aspects of the book: typographers, printers, authors, librarians, and lexicographers. A number of “royal” editions were published under his auspices. He founded the Kyujanggak Library in 1776, now part of the library of the Seoul National University.
“The official rhyming dictionary of Chinese characters compiled under the supervision of King Chongjo and engraved in 1796. The arrangement is different from the usual Korean system in that instead of three rows of characters in the same rhyme, there are four rows, with the ipsŏng characters distributed in the bottom row” (Fang, The Asami Library, 12.3).
The main compiler of this work was the reformer Tong-mu Yi (1741-93), who had travelled to China and was an important member of the Northern Learning School. This group of intellectuals recognized the practical benefits of commerce and technology and urged the modernization of Korean society. Yi was appointed by King Chŏngjo as one of the famed four editors of the Royal Library, overseeing the publication of books.
A very nice copy.
Fang Chaoying. The Asami Library: A Descriptive Catalog. Edited by Elizabeth Huff. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.
Item ID: 7461