Roderich Ptak’s  Review on Waiguo Zhuan

Kang Tai 康泰 and Zhu Ying 朱應 (authors), Chen Jiarong 陳佳榮 (comp.) Tan Guanglian 譚廣濂 (plan.): Waiguo zhuan 外國傳, Ser. Zhongguo haiwai jiaotong shiji xilie 2: zhuanzhu xuankan 中國海外交通史籍系列 2: 專著選刊 [published for Xianggang haiwai jiaotongshi xuehui 香港海外交通史學會] (Hong Kong: Xianggang xinhua caiyin chubanshe, 2006). X + 350 pages, ISBN 978-962-8259-48-9.
This volume came out in a newly established series mainly dedicated to the study and conservation of ancient materials related to China’s maritime history. The series is printed on behalf of the Xianggang haiwai jiaotongshi xuehui (Hong Kong Society for Maritime History Studies) and directed by Tan Guanglian (Tam Kwong Lim), Chen Jiarong (Aaron Chen, Chan Kai Wing) and Qian Jiang 錢江 (James K. Chin). So far, one volume has appeared, and several others, including a modern edition of Shen Maoshang’s 愼懋賞 Haiguo guangji 海國廣記 (also called Siyi guangji 四夷廣記), a rare item, are being prepared.

The book under review here opens with a general preface by the series editors. This is followed by an introduction of the volume editor, Chen Jiarong. The main part of the work (pp. 1-68) consists of a reconstructed text conventionally attributed to Kang Tai and Zhu Ying. Both men can be associated with the Wu dynasty (222-280) and are usually referred to as diplomats and / or travelers.

The remaining sections are divided into four appendices: Appendix 1 presents a number of related text entries collected from various ancient sources (ca. 30 pages); appendix 2 identifies the text editions used for the presentation of these materials (four pages); appendix 3 carries several scholarly articles on Kang Tai, Zhu Ying and their times (circa 140 pages); appendix 4 lists important secondary works on this topic.

There can be no doubt – the most valuable segment is the text by Kang Tai and Zhu Ying itself. Fragments of this work called (Wu shi) Waiguo zhuan (吳時)外國傳 (hence the title of the present publication) can be found in such sources as the Shuijing zhu 水經注 and Taiping yulan 太平御覽, as well as in various leishu 類書 of the Tang period and other material. These texts have often been used by historians, notably by Paul Pelliot, whose articles in BEFEO have remained indispensable for our understanding of China’s early maritime exchange with Southeast Asia. Other studies were furnished by Xiang Da and Xu Yunqiao 許雲樵 (Hsü Yun-ts’iao, etc.), to name just two more examples. They all expose the complex nature of the philological problems associated with the Waiguo zhuan, many of which have entailed long debates among scholars.

In the present publication, Chen Jiarong, who is an expert in this field – see, for example, his Sui qian Nanhai jiaotong shiliao yanjiu 隋前南海交通史料研究 (Hong Kong 2003) –, has made a new and fresh attempt at reassembling the original text fragments. This is accompanied by short comments, alternative readings, and references to related narrative elements scattered in a number of early sources. The reconstructed text of the Waiguo zhuan, it should be added, was divided into four chapters: on Funan 扶南, on the rest of Southeast Asia, on India, and on Da Qin 大秦 (East Rome / Mesopotamia). There are close to fifty entries the length of which ranges from one or two lines to about half a page.

Following earlier research, several pages could of course be written on each entry, in particular on the various toponyms and terms provided by Kang and Zhu, but Chen Jiarong has limited his own observations to a few essential remarks so as not to confuse his readers with unnecessary details. The idea was to draw a global picture of the text – and not so much to address small philological questions. One example is the so-called Zhanghai
漲海. This name appears in the context of maritime Southeast Asia as well as in the Da Qin section. Gerini, Han Zhenhua 韓振華 and others have commented on its phonetic qualities and  《vicinity》to certain Arabic words, which is of course mentioned by Chen, but a detailed investigation is left out. Another example relates to the name Mawu zhou 馬五洲 / Wuma zhou 五馬洲 (most likely the Moluccan Islands). Again, readers are not exposed to unwanted philological 《torture》 because Chen limits his observations to a few essential sentences.

Appendix 1 is organized by texts and countries, or toponyms. The entries are drawn from a large variety of titles (including such books as Jiu pu
酒譜 and Huayi huamu niaoshou zhenwan kao 華夷花木鳥獸珍玩考 where one might not necessarily expect to find relevant material). They are grouped in the following order: fragments from the anonymous works Funan zhuan 扶南傳, Funan Rinan zhuan 扶南日南傳 and Funan ji 扶南記, from Zhu Zhi’s 竺芝 Funan ji 扶南記, from an anonymous treatise called Waiguo ji 外國記 (not to be confused with the reconstructed account, above), from the anonymous Jiaozhou yi nan waiguo zhuan 交州以南外國傳, and from Song Ying’s 宋膺 Yiwu zhi 物志. Furthermore, there are also important passages / paragraphs from some of the earlier dynastic annals.

The articles in appendix 3 include representative studies by the following authors (in pinyin): Xiang Da, Fang Shiming 方詩銘, Cen Zhongmian 岑仲勉, Han Zhenhua, Xu Yunqiao, Zhao Lingyang 趙令揚, Rao Zongyi 饒宗頤, Chen Lianqing 陳連慶, and Chen Jiarong himself. All pieces have appeared in journals or books, some were already published many decades earlier, therefore it would be impolite to discuss them here. It may be said, however, that the papers by Cen, Han, Rao and the editor are somewhat longer and more comprehensive than the other essays. Furthermore, Chen Jiarong’s paper, the latest piece, also came out in his Sui qian… (quoted above) and Nanming ji 南溟集 (2002), as well as in Nanyang xuebao 南洋學報 56 (2002). Since the present reviewer was among the guest editors of the said Nanyang xuebao issue, he should restrict his comments to the general observation that this article is an authoritative study of excellent quality.

To sum up: Chen Jiarong’s careful edition of the Waiguo zhuan is an important contribution to the field of early maritime history. It is based on a multitude of Chinese 《primary》and secondary works (with some references to European and Japanese contributions) and may be used by Southeast Asianists and Sinologists alike, who are interested in the 《story》of Funan and other polities then in touch with both the Far East and the Indian Ocean world. Finally, and most definitely, thanks to Ch’en’s work, the Waiguo zhuan can now be accessed with greater ease; future research, it is clear, will greatly profit from this new publication.
                                                                                     Roderich Ptak, Munich

74期(2007)s.235-237: “ Kang Tai und Zhu Ying (Verf.), Chen Jiarong (Hg.), Tan Guanglia (Plan.),
Waguo Zhuan (Hong Kong, 2006)  ” 。下列網頁中的Prof. Dr. Roderich Ptak著作目錄列有該文
名稱 :]  :

Prof. Dr. Roderich Ptak

Lehrstuhl für Sinologie
(zuständig für Pflichtwahlfach Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Chinas
für Studierende BWL & VWL)

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