An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Zhongzhouji 中州集

Nov 28, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhongzhouji 中州集 "Collected writings from Zhongzhou" is a complete anthology of poems from the Jin period 金 (1115-1234) compiled by Yuan Haowen 元好問 (1190-1257). It has a length of 10 juan and includes 2,062 poems composed by 251 writers. Of these, 5 persons actually are to be considered as subjects of the Southern Song dynasty 南宋 (1127-1279) (nanguan 南冠 "wearing the southern [officials'] cap"). The name of the book is derived from the name of the prefecture of Zhongzhou 中州, modern Henan, the cultural and economical centre of the Jin empire. The original title was Hanyuan yinghua Zhongzhou ji 翰苑英華中州集 "Collected writings from the blossoms in the literati gardens in Zhongzhou", or Zhongzhou guchui hanyuan yinghua ji 中州鼓吹翰苑英華集 "Collected blossoms from the musical literati gardens in Zhongzhou". The compilation began in 1233, and the draft was only finished when the Jin dynasty was already destroyed by the Mongols, in 1250.

The poems included mainly came from two sources, namely a collection by Yuan Haowen himself, and the anthology Guochao baijia shilüe 國朝百家詩略 "A concise [collection] of poems by the hundred masters of Our Dynasty" compiled by Wei Daoming 魏道明 and Shang Heng 商衡 (1187-1232).

The poems of the are arranged in personal categories, beginning with emperors and princes, primi (zhuangyuan 狀元) in the state examinations, persons "knowing themselves" (zhiji 知己, i.e. morally high-standing persons), officials loyal to the Song, and then, in chronological order, all other persons. For each person, a short biography is provided which does not only give information about life and career, but also about the strengths of the poems included. Yuan Haowen also explains the development of poetry during the Jin period. In the beginning, for example, all poets were Confucian scholars under the Song dynasty. After the downfall of the Northern Song and the conquest of northern China by the Jurchens, however, the poets developed their own styles, which are not always favourably criticized by Yuan. In some poems the inner conflicts of the Jurchen elite can be observed, especially during the reign of the sinophile Prince Hailing 海陵王 (r. 1149-1160). Poetry was a very important means of the political restructuring of the Jurchen state into a Chinese-style government.

The oldest print was produced in 1249, and a second time by the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Mao Jin 毛晉 (1599-1659). The Zhongzhouji is included in the series Sibu congkan 四部叢刊 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書. It was republished in 1959 by the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局.

Lin, Hang (2012). "History and Historiography of the Liao and Jin: A Critical Analysis of Their Official Dynastic Histories and Unofficial Primary Historical Sources", Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung, 36: 177-197.
Wu Gengshun 吳庚舜 (1986). "Zhongzhouji 中州集", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1286.