Book on Regulating Rivers


The title of this work, He gong shu (Book on regulating rivers), is taken from the central column of the page. The inscription at the end of the volume says that the work was printed in the winter of the Yisi year (the 33rd year, 1605) of the Wanli reign in Ningling Xian. The author of the book is not known definitively, but judging by the contents, the work was undoubtedly by the hand of a very respectable author, possibly Lȕ Kun, though no records could be found in the local gazetteer of Ningling. Lȕ Kun (1536‒1618), courtesy names Shujian and Xinwu, style name Baodu Jushi (Retired Scholar Who Embraces Solitude), a native of Ningling, Henan, was a Ming literary author and philosopher. He was known as an upright and incorruptible official and was considered one of the three great sages during the Wanli reign. He served as an assistant minister at the Bureau of Justice and was posthumously bestowed the rank of minister of the bureau. He was the author of at least ten main works, including Shi zheng lu (Records on statecraft) and Quweizhai ji (Collected works from the Studio of Removing Untruth), on a wide range of topics, from politics, economy, laws and codes, military affairs, river regulation, education, and phonology to medicine, and other subjects. In Lȕ si kou song de bei ji (The stele eulogizing the merits of Minister Lȕ), the writer Meng Yanghao described Lȕ Kun as the messenger of river protection, who petitioned to spare compulsory river-dredging service; a similar theme is expressed in this work. Also, in Quweizhai ji, on page 25 of juan 5, under the heading “With the director of waterways Liu Jinchuan” there is a note, which reads: “Juan 5 contains juan 4 as an addendum entitled He gong shu, which was originally printed separately. It constitutes the first essay of the work presented here. This copy is bound in the traditional Chinese binding technique, called “gold inlaid with jade,” in which an extra sheet of paper is inserted in the fold of the double-page spread to strengthen and preserve the pages of the book. It is in good condition but lacks the title page.

Last updated: January 10, 2018