Item ID: 9652 Tian zhi ou wen 天咫偶聞 [Things Heard on Occasion in the Imperial Capital]. ZHENJUN 震鈞.

A Record of Beijing and Its Culture

Tian zhi ou wen 天咫偶聞 [Things Heard on Occasion in the Imperial Capital].

One double-page map of the city. Eight vols. Small 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. stitching. [China]: Gantang zhuanshe 甘棠轉舍, 1907.

First or early edition (WorldCat 24282301) of this book about the city of Beijing and its customs, written by a Manchu author. The Manchus invaded China in 1644, occupied Beijing, and made it the capital of their Qing empire. The part of the city that lay within the city wall was allocated to the Eight Banners of the Manchu army, and no Chinese civilians were allowed to live there. The civilian population moved to the south city, which over time came to include noteworthy landmarks, such as the antiques shops and bookstores at Liuli chang.

A literature on Beijing developed in the early Qing period, and it grew in the 18th century, in part through imperial involvement. Manchus started to produce books on their adopted city in the late 19th century (Naquin, Peking: Temples and City Life, 696), and our book is part of this trend.

Things Heard on Occasion in the Imperial Capital contains chapters on the various neighborhoods of Beijing, as well as on its customs, popular culture, and economic life. Zhen-jun furthermore included information on female bannerman poets and bannerman painters (Li, Jindai shiliao biji yanjiu, 237-47).

Zhen-jun gives detailed descriptions of the city’s liquor stores and their products:

There are three kinds of wine shops in the capital, and their kinds of wine are also very numerous. One kind are the southern wine stores. They sell broad-leaf privet, huadiao 花雕, Shaoxing, and bamboo-leaf green varieties. As for snacks, there is ham, wine-pickled fish, crab, thousand-year eggs, honey cake. Another kind of store are the capital wine shops. They were established by people from Shandong, and they sell snow wine, winter wine, infused wine, papaya, and sugar cane varieties, and these are all separated into clear and cloudy.
Zhen-jun continues by describing the third kind of liquor store as well as stores selling medicinal alcohols. The section titled “Cha shuo” 查說 [“A Discussion on Tea”] discusses the selection of teapots and utensils, water, varieties of tea, and how to drink it (Yao et al., Zhongguo yinshi dianji shi, 521). There is also a description of Beijing’s bookstores and publishers.

Zhen-jun (1857-1918/20), was a Manchu of the Gūwalgiya clan. He served at the Board of Rites in Beijing before being appointed a county magistrate in Jiangsu in 1900 following the Boxer Rebellion. By 1910, he was teaching at the Imperial University of Peking 京師大學堂, when he took joined the secretarial staff of the Manchu General-in-Chief at the Nanjing Banner garrison, serving as director of the Eight Banner school.

We find no earlier edition in WorldCat, but Weng Changsong (Qingdai banben xulu, 372) describes a 1903 edition.


Li Junxiang 黎俊祥. Jindai shiliao biji yanjiu 近代史料笔记研究. Hefei: Anhui shifan daxue chubanshe, 2022.

Naquin, Susan. Peking: Temples and City Life, 1400-1900. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Weng Changsong 翁长松. Qingdai banben xulu 清代版本叙录. Shanghai: Shanghai yuandong chubanshe, 2015.

Yao Weijun 姚伟钧 et al. Zhongguo yinshi dianji shi 中国饮食典籍史. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2012.

Price: $2,500.00

Item ID: 9652

See all items by