Printed in Chinese characters & Korean Hangul. Ten columns per page; variable number of characters per column. 152 folding leaves. Two vols. bound in one. Large 8vo (295 x 202mm., text block: 217 x 153 mm.), orig. yellow wrappers, new stitching. [Korea]: n.d., but ca. 1796.
First edition and rare. The great rhyme books [issued in Korea] of the eighteenth century were Hwa-Dong jeongeum tongseok un-go [Examination of Rhymes in the Correct Pronunciation of China and the East [viz. Korea], with Comprehensive Explanations] from 1747, Samun seonghwi [Collected Sounds of the Three Rhymes] from 1751, and Eojeong Gyujang jeonun [Royally Commissioned Complete Rhymes of the Palace Library] from 1796. The first of these books was based on the expansion of Samun tonggo from the early eighteenth century. It innovated by supplying two kinds of sound glosses, one Chinese reading, drawing on Saseong tonghae, and one Korean reading. The book was reprinted in 1787 with a royal preface, and was thereafter bestowed on successful civil examination candidates. Samun seonghwi was made upon consultation of Hwa-Dong jeong-eum tongseok un-go and other earlier books. It is noteworthy for having two parts: in addition to the rhyme book proper, there is a graphological index (okpyeon), allowing the reader to look up characters according to their form and learn under which rhyme they are to be found. Eojeong Gyujang jeonun, finally, was written on royal command and served to compose Chinese regularized verse. Within the rhymes, characters are arranged further according to their Korean alphabet transcriptions. The Korean transcriptions, however, are normative and do not reflect current vernacular usage. The book underwent some revision in the nineteenth century and was extremely popular throughout the Joseon period. Eojeong Gyujang jeonun was also transformed into a graphological dictionary as Jeon-un okpyeon, the present work, at some point in the nineteenth century. This was more than an index to the rhyme book, as definitions were provided for its lemmata, not only indications on the rhyme under which they could be found in the original rhyme book. See Söderblom Saarela, “The Chinese Periphery to c. 1800,” 221-22.
The definitions in this work consist of 1) the pronunciation in Korean script; 2) the meaning written in literary Chinese; and 3) indication of which Middle Chinese rhyme the character belongs to. Sometimes several definitions are included under the same character, in case it has several pronunciations/acceptations.
What is called okpyeon (or okp’yŏn) above is yupian 玉篇 in Chinese. The word means “the jade chapters” and is the title of a Chinese dictionary from 543 CE. This dictionary was arranged according to radicals, using a modified version of the arrangement in the Shuowen jiezi, a very important, ancient landmark dictionary that listed Chinese characters used in the Confucian classics. The word yupian/okpyeon became more or less synonymous with Chinese dictionaries arranged graphologically (by radical and stroke order) in Korea. For the original Yupian, see Bottéro, “Ancient China.”
Fine copy. Minor marginal worming to early leaves of the first volume.
Bottéro, Françoise. “Ancient China.” In The Cambridge World History of Lexicography. Edited by John Considine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
Fang Chaoying. Asami Library: A Descriptive CatalogueA Descriptive Catalog. Edited by Elizabeth Huff. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.
Söderblom Saarela, Mårten. “The Chinese Periphery to c. 1800.” In The Cambridge World History of Lexicography. Edited by John Considine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
Item ID: 8226