Glosses on Everyday Life

Zheng su wen 證俗文 [Discriminating Among Popular Phrases].

Six vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, orig. stitching. [China]: Shaishu tang 曬書堂, 1884.

A mid-Qing work of glossography and ethnography by a leading scholar. The work “does not separate its contents into sections, but the source material of every juan is roughly regrouped by kind. Juan 1 covers foodstuffs, juan 2 clothing, juan 3 tools, juan 4 forms of address, juan 5 seasons and events, juan 6 things, juan 7 measure words, juan 8 institutions, juan 9 government offices, juan 10 miscellaneous discussions, juan 11 religion, juan 12 flora and fauna, juan 13 to 17 sayings, juan 18 peculiar phrases from outside the realm, and juan 19 Sanskrit expressions.” In terms of foodstuffs, Hao Yixing’s glosses sometimes give instructions for how to prepare the food in question (Yao et al., Zhongguo yinshi dianji shi, 535). A classicist, Hao supplied his glossary with references from older literature. He supported his statements by “quoting comparatively broadly from the classics, histories, literary collections, and masters, from character dictionaries, encyclopedias, rhyme books, novels, collections of jottings, and even plays” (Qu, Fengfei jinghua lu, 117).

Hao Yixing (1757-1825), had a long career at the Board of Revenue in Beijing. As a scholar, he took an interest in natural history. He married, “in 1787, a talented woman, Wang Chao-yüan [Zhaoyuan] 王照圓 (… 1763-1851), who collaborated in many of her husband’s scholarly works and left several contributions of her own” (Tu, “Hao I-hsing,” 278).

Discriminating Among Popular Phrases was written late in Hao’s life. It was first published in 1809 (WorldCat 1394039285) and then again in 1879 (WorldCat 36389655). Our copy was printed in 1884 by Donglu tingshu 東路廳署, but the blocks are said to have been kept by Shaishu tang, “Hall Where Books Are Left Out in the Sun [to kill pests],” a studio name used by Hao Yixing. We infer that the blocks were kept by Hao’s descendants.

Fine set, preserved in a hantao.


Qu Yanbin 曲彦斌. Fengfei jinghua lu: lidai caifeng wensu dianji gouchen 葑菲菁华录:历代采风问俗典籍钩沉. Zhenzhou: Daxiang chubanshe, 2015.

Tu Lien-chê. “Hao I-hsing.” In Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period. Vol. 1. Edited by Arthur W. Hummel. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1944.

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

Price: $5,000.00

Item ID: 9796

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