Biography of King Mu, Son of Heaven: Six Juan


Presented here is a manuscript copy of Mu Tianzi zhuan (Biography of King Mu, Son of Heaven) by Yang Yi of the Ming dynasty, produced at his library Wanjuanlou (Studio of Ten Thousand Volumes) around the time of the Jiajing reign (1522‒66). It has a preface written by Wang Jian in the tenth year (1350) of the Zhizheng era of the Yuan dynasty. According to Jin shu (Book of Jin), in the second year (281) of the Taikang reign of Western Jin, during the robbery of the tomb of Wei Xiang Wang, king of Wei, in Jixian (in present-day Henan), a large number of bamboo slips with inscriptions was discovered. Among them were five documents of Mu Tianzi zhuan and 19 miscellaneous pieces of writing. Thus it can be assumed that the composition of the work could not postdate Wei Xiang Wang, who died in 296 BC. The work describes the journeys of King Mu of Zhou, who ruled in the tenth century BC. Although the records in the work have both the character of an imperial diary and of fantasy, it is nevertheless an ancient work and has documentary value. During the Western Jin, Xun Xu (died 289) edited the work and Guo Pu (276‒324) added annotations. It became a work in six juan. It has a postscript by late-Ming scholar and book collector Feng Shu, in which he wrote that Yang Yi was the owner of Wanjuanlou. Yang Yi, courtesy name Mengyu, style name Wuchuan, was a native of Changshu, Jiangsu. He received the jinshi degree in the fifth year (1526) of Jiajing and took various official posts, reaching the rank of vice judicial commissioner of Shandong. A renowned book collector and publisher, Yang built his library and named it Wanjuanlou.

Last updated: April 14, 2017