A banned geographical work

23 January 2012

When dealing with some of the uncatalogued parts of our Sinica Collection last week, I came across the following edition; amazingly, it has led me back to the Southern Ming. I didn’t expect another encounter with this period at all, let alone so soon after examining the Southern Ming calendars:

地圖綜要 存內卷(第93~189頁)﹑外卷 / (明)李茹春鑒定 ; (明)朱國達等編輯
南明乙酉[1645]序刊本
線裝3冊 : 地圖 ; 26公分
全書有總﹑內﹑外三卷
Sinica 102

Unfortunately, our copy is incomplete. The first section (總卷) and pp.1-92 of the second section (內卷) are missing. We know that these two missing sections were contained in a single volume, because the three volumes we have are inscribed “2. Volume”, “3. Volume”, “4. Volume”, together with a description in French of their contents. I don’t yet know the ultimate provenance of these volumes, and can only be sure that they were in Oxford by the last quarter of the 19th century. It is possible that they are from the Chinese works once in the possession of Golius. The French inscriptions are of the 18th or possibly even the late 17th century. I think there is a good chance that the first volume might be in another European collection; my initial thought was the Bibliothèque Nationale, but it doesn’t appear to be in Courant’s catalogue.

A complete copy of the edition (in the library of Peking Normal University 北京师范大学) is reproduced in the series Siku jinhuishu congkan 四庫禁燬書叢刊 (史部, 18), where it is described as 明末朗潤堂刻本, apparently only because the words 朗潤堂藏板 appear on the title-page 封面 – they don’t seem to appear anywhere else. Comparison shows that this copy and the Bodleian’s are taken from identical blocks. We are therefore concerned with the same edition, and can take the evidences present in the Peking Normal University edition as applying to our copy, too, even if ours lacks them.

It is a geographical work, dealing with topography, administrative divisions, border regions, local produce and customs, towns and cities, famous places, and famous people. The complete edition is illustrated with 66 maps distributed throughout its text, and the maps of smaller areas are drawn to scale on a square grid. It is one of the earliest works of its kind.

Its final section (外卷, 182-210, present in the Bodleian copy) is concerned with the siyi 四夷, the barbarians which surrounded China on all four sides. These included the Manchus, for which reason the book was banned during the Qing Dynasty, when unflattering reference to the Manchus was a very common reason why books were ordered to be burnt either in their entirety (quanhui 全毀) or in part (chouhui 抽毀). The book is therefore a little rare, with perhaps 20 copies or so being extant, and its importance caused Peng Dejing 彭德经 to publish an article on it almost thirty years ago, with the particular aim of establishing its precise date: 《地图综要》版刻考 in 江西师院学报(哲学社会科学版), 1983:3, 58-60, 90. The only evidences in the edition itself (apart from the geographical text) are as follows, in order of their appearance: 朗潤堂藏板 (title-page); 黃兆文刻 (preface p.1, 版心下); and 乙酉 (date of Li Ruchun’s 李茹春 preface, and the only date found in the edition).

In printed and online catalogues, I have found over a dozen ways in which the date is expressed, from simply “Ming” 明 (in the National Library of China online catalogue) to “beginning of the Qing” 淸初 (in the Japanese online union catalogue of old Chinese books 全國漢籍データベース). Several say “end of the Ming” 明末 or “the Chongzhen 崇禎 period”. Some give a precise date using that of Li Ruchun’s preface, a cyclical expression equivalent to the western year 1645 which is translated variously into the second year of Shunzhi 順治二年, the first year of Hongguang 弘光元年 (the first Southern Ming reign period), or curiously “the 18th year of Chongzhen” 崇禎十八年 (in the Japanese online union catalogue, referring to copies in Tokyo University and the National Diet Library); there was no such year: the Chongzhen emperor hanged himself on Jingshan in the 17th year of his reign (on 25 April 1644) rather than face capture and execution by the rebel forces of Li Zicheng 李自成, who was on the point of taking Peking.

Almost certainly these are all the same edition in a dozen different guises, and probably the only edition of this work before modern times, although naturally this is subject to confirmation by comparison. In my catalogue, I have decided to describe it as quoted above (南明乙酉[1645]序刊本) on the basis of Peng’s reasoning, which may be summarised as follows.

As Li Ruchun was a juren 舉人 of 1627 and a jinshi 進士 of 1637, the year yiyou 乙酉 of his preface must be 1645. Although this is indeed the second year of Shunzhi, the first reign-period of the Qing Dynasty, both the work and its preface are wholly a product of the Ming: the term huangming 皇明 could not have been used in a text of the Qing, and the territorial extent of the work represents the Ming Dynasty at the height of its expansion. Most interestingly, the preface refers to the cataclysmic events which took place only months before it was written, when the non-Chinese invaders began to thoroughly overturn the old order; and Peng interprets some words of Wu Xueyan 吳學儼 (one of the compilers) in the fanli 凡例 section as suggesting that the work might have been produced as an appeal for help in achieving national salvation.

It would have been published in the area around Nanking under the first of the Southern Ming kingdoms, established by the Prince of Fu 福王, Zhu Yousong 朱由崧, who ascended the throne on 19 June 1644. His reign-period was known as Hongguang 弘光, and was reckoned from the first day of the lunar year following his accession, 28 January 1645, the year yiyou 乙酉. The Qing forces took Nanking on 8 June 1645, less than six months into this period, and captured the fleeing emperor on 15 June.

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