Collections of Literacy Primers

Xiao xue gou chen 小學鉤沈 [Philological Sources Pulled from the Deep].

Four vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. stitching. [China]: Long shi 龍氏, 1884.


GU, Zhenfu 顧震福. Xiao xue gou chen xu bian 小學鉤沈續編 [A Continuation to “Philological Sources Pulled from the Deep”]. Four vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. stitching. Zhouzhi 盩厔, Shaanxi: Lu Pi 路伾, 1892.

First editions. “At the age of eight sui, one enters into the study of philology.” Thus begins the Zhou li 周禮 [Rites of Zhou], one of the canonical Confucian texts. The term translated as philology here, xiaoxue 小學, literally means the “lesser learning,” as reflected in its use to indicate a curriculum of study for children. By the late imperial period, however, the “lesser learning” did not mean the course of study for youngsters so much as the study of the classics by means of investigation into their graphs, their meaning, and their pronunciation. Philological Sources Pulled from the Deep built on earlier literacy primers compiled with a pedagogical intent, beginning with the “Cang Jie chapters” (Cang Jie pian 倉頡篇), named after the legendary inventor of Chinese writing. In its original context, this work had been akin to a textbook, but by the time Philological Sources was published, its audience would have been fellow scholars of advanced classical literacy.

The author, Ren Dachun (1738-89), was on the editorial team for the Complete Books of the Four Repositories (Siku quanshu), the Qianlong emperor’s massive manuscript library. Ren wrote any of the bibliographical summaries for books on the ritual collections gathered in the Siku quanshu’s classics division. He also authored several philological studies.

The author of A Continuation to “Philological Sources Pulled from the Deep,” Gu Zhenfu, was a notable prose writer, poet, and scholar of classical studies. He also practiced the literary art of lantern riddles.

Philological Sources Pulled from the Deep is preceded by a biography of Ren. The Continuation contains an undated preface by Luo Zhenyu 羅振玉 as well as one by the author, Gu Zhenfu, dated 1892. Wang Niansun (1744-1832), the famous philologist, edited the first twelve juan of Ren’s book.

Fine copies, preserved in two hantao.

Price: $1,250.00

Item ID: 9671