Records of Zixia, the Purple Gorge


Cao Zongzai (1754–1824) a native of Haining, Zhejiang Province, a city famous for its dramatic views and for the spectacular tidal bore in the Qiantang River, produced a number of poetry collections. Among them was this manuscript, which he compiled in his studio, Dongshanlou (East Mountain Hall), in two juan, in one volume, entitled Zi xia wen xian lu (Records of Zixia, the Purple Gorge). Another collection of Cao’s was called Xiachuan shi chao (The Xiachuan poetry collection). In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, local literati wrote about the scenery of Haining and its surrounding region, which became a popular theme for literary and artistic works. Xiachuan, a town to the northeast of Haining, was well known for its 12 scenic views immortalized by Ming poet Xu Ying in her verse. Cao Zongzai compiled extensive collections of poems for his various local history projects. He and 19 literary friends composed poems to match Xu Ying’s poems about Xiachuan, which they collected in this anthology in 1803 and later incorporated into the 1812 local gazetteer edited by Cao Zongzai. The manuscript includes lists of local authors of the Ming dynasty who stayed in Zixia (The Purple Gorge), with details of their deeds, virtuous characters, and depictions of the sites. Thus, the work is as much a local directory of famous personalities as a poetry collection. The anthology has a preface dated 1828, written by Lu Jinghua, who was also a poet.

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2 juan in 1 volume


  • Manuscript edition

Last updated: January 3, 2018