Essays on Rhymes and Phonetic Notations


Zhang Fu (1378‒1469) was best known for his work on Chinese phonology, entitled Yun xue ji cheng (Book of rhymes), a book of 43,000 characters, issued in 1460, which derived from Hongwu zheng yun (Hongwu dictionary arranged by rhymes), an official book, and from a collected work entitled Gu jin yun hui ju yao (The essentials of ancient and modern studies on rhymes). The work presented here, Zhi yin pian (Essays on rhymes and phonetic notations), is of the same length and was issued about the same time as Yun xue ji cheng, but in different compilation, probably to complement the other work. It follows the same format layout as Shu wen jie zi, an early second-century Chinese character dictionary from the Han dynasty. It was the first Chinese dictionary that analyzed the structure of the characters, sometimes their etymology, and the first to use the principle of organization by sections with shared components, called bu shou (radicals). Zhi yin in the title refers to a traditional method of indicating the pronunciation of a Chinese character by citing another character with the same pronunciation. The preface was written by the author and is dated 1640. The book also has a seal impression of Yi zheng tang cang shu, the seal of a well-known book collector and publisher.

Last updated: January 10, 2018