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Ming chaoben “Yingyai shenglan” jiaozhu 明鈔本《瀛涯勝覽》校注. By Ma Huan 馬歡. Edited by Wan Ming 萬明. Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe, 2018. 2 + 60 + 2 + 285 pages. ISBN 978-7-218-12608-1.

Roderich Ptak
p. 173-176
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By Ma Huan 馬歡. Edited by Wan Ming 萬明. Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe, 2018. 2 + 60 + 2 + 285 pages. ISBN 978-7-218-12608-1.

Texte intégral

1Ma Huan’s Yingya shenglan (now YYSL) is a key source for the history of maritime Southeast Asia and some of the countries and ports along the northern sections of the Indian Ocean. European historians are familiar with this book through the detailed studies by Paul Pelliot, J.J.L. Duyvendak and the full English version by J.V.G. Mills. The latter, called The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores (Cambridge, 1970), is based on an annotated edition prepared by Feng Chengjun 馮承鈞. Besides these works there are many studies on individual sections of the text, including some partial translations, and there is also a full Japanese version. Finally, in 2005 Wan Ming came out with a new annotated Chinese edition of the YYSL (see my discussion in Archipel 71 [2006], pp. 240-244). This edition is in short characters, but bears the same title as the work under review here, i.e., Ming chaoben “Yingyai shenglan” jiaozhu. In China, Wan Ming’s edition of 2005 has largely substituted the older one by Feng Chengjun, although several scholars still prefer to use Feng’s text.

2The present book of 2018 (p. 14) lists two further items that came out since 2005: an annotated edition simply called YYSL, again prepared by Wan Ming (published by Shangwu yinshuguan, Zhongguo lüyou chubanshe, 2016), and a traditionally bound photo-mechanic reprint of an old version found in the Fujian Provincial Library (Fujian sheng tushuguan 福建省圖書館). Internet entries refer to this last item, edited by Fujian sheng difangzhi bianzuan weiyuanhui 福建省地方志編纂委員會 and the said library (and also dated 2016), under two different titles: Dan shengtang chaoben Yingya shenglan 淡生堂鈔本瀛涯勝覽, and Yingya shenglan, Dan shengtang chaoben. So far, both these works have remained fairly unknown, modern secondary sources rarely mention them, and the present author must admit that he also has not seen them. Regarding the “Dan shengtang” text, one may add that Wan Ming has included this version of the YYSL, with punctuation marks, as one appendix in her book of 2005.

3The item under review here is the latest edition of the YYSL. It is printed in long characters, but the overall arrangement largely follows the one already used for the version that came out in 2005. However, there are some essential differences as well. One point concerns the introductions which summarize the editorial history of Ma Huan’s text. The one to the present book contains many more details than the one of 2005. Although the new presentation has become very complex, it is clear and easy to follow. This time Wan Ming lists a total of 29 editions / translations. She also confirms what we already know through her first book, namely that the “Jilu huibian” 紀錄彙編 version of the late Ming period was essential in modern historiography. A further point concerns Zhang Sheng 張昇, Guo Chongli 郭崇禮 and other Ming scholars involved in the early stages of the editorial process. These men receive more attention now than in the account of 2005. In this context one may state as well: Wan Ming considers the Xiyang fanguo zhi 西洋番國志 as one version of Ma Huan’s text and not as a separate book.

4Another important point is this: Wan Ming’s works focus on the so-called chaoben 鈔本 (copied / manuscript sources) of the Ming period and not on the keben 刻本 (printed texts). She thinks the “Sanbao zhengyi ji” 三寶征夷集 chaoben (now “Sanbao”) is closest to Ma Huan’s chu gao ben 初稿本 (earliest draft), now lost. That also explains why she selected the “Sanbao” text as the basic work (diben 底本) for her book of 2005. In that book she presents an improved version of the “Sanbao” version together with copious notes. There are two kinds of such annotations: one type (zhushi 注釋) concerns factual information (for example, explanations of toponyms, local products, commodities used in trade, non-Chinese terms, etc.), a second kind (jiaokan 校勘) draws attention to textual modifications and variant readings in three other chaoben: the so-called (a) “Guochao diangu” 國朝典故, (b) “Shuoji” 説集, and (c) “Dan shengtang” versions. Only on rare occasions did Wan Ming cite further sources in the jiaokan parts.

5The new edition of 2018, reviewed here, also takes the “Sanbao” chaoben as its basis, but this time the textual modifications introduced by Wan Ming differ from those in the 2005 book – certainly not everywhere, but in a substantial number of cases. The principal reason is that besides consulting versions (a), (b) and (c), she now also looked up two other texts more systematically: (d) a fourth chaoben, known as the “Yihai huihan 藝海彙函” version, and the (e) “Jilu huibian” edition, already mentioned above. Finally, a detailed comparison between the so-called fanli 凡例 part (explanations / guide to the annotations) of the book published in 2005 and the fanli part in the one of 2018 reveals further differences, mostly of a technical nature.

6Other differences between both books concern the following points: The work of 2005 has seven appendices. These contain the texts of several chaoben versions, the so-called Zheng He hanghai tu 鄭和航海圖 (Zheng He map, taken from the Wu bei zhi 武備志), and other items. The book of 2018 carries eight appendices, five of which present the full texts of (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). Furthermore, the relevant country segments in Da Ming yitong zhi 大明一統志 (originally associated with [b] in the book of 2005) now form a separate appendix. Besides that, there are sections with various prefaces and postscripts to the YYSL and some comparative tables. Regarding the Zheng He hanghai tu, this is also included in the work of 2018 – however, not as a simple appendix, but rather in the form of a long foldable map at the beginning of the book.

7As was said, both books use the “Sanbao” chaoben as a base text, but some readings vary and there are minor variations in the punctuation. One example may be found on p. 69 of the 2018 work. From note 8 in the jiaokan part we learn that a short phrase was added to the original “Sanbao” text, following the “Jilu huibian” edition. In the work of 2005, the relevant phrase does not appear (p. 74) and, more generally, the jiaokan section is much shorter. A second example takes us to the description of Lambri. In the book of 2005, p. 50, jiaokan note 3, Wan Ming says that she altered the text by following version (a); in the work of 2018, p. 46, jiaokan note 3, she prefers the reading in text (d). Regarding the zhushi notes, these also differ between the earlier and the later book. As a rule, the later one gives more details. Thus, in the first zhushi note to the entry on Lambri, the work of 2005 (p. 50) refers to the Lingwai daida 嶺外代答, Zhufan zhi 諸番志, Daoyi zhilüe 島夷志略 and Yuan shi 元史, where different forms of the name Lambri appear. The work of 2018 (p. 45) refers to these texts as well and then cites additional records.

8In both the earlier and the later book, the style and manner of the zhushi notes follow Chinese conventions. This means that one mainly encounters references (usually without chapter and page numbers) to traditional sources and not so much to modern secondary works. No doubt, scholars will greatly profit from Wan Ming’s explanations and editorial efforts, but in some cases European historians may still wish to look up specialized studies and the standard works by Pelliot, Mills and others. A further point that caught my attention is this: There are minimal variations in the presentation of the different chaoben in the relevant appendices of both books. These variations mostly concern punctuation marks and occasional textual corrections. Clearly, that may not matter very much, but it shows how careful one has to be when dealing with old sources. Finally, both works contain finding lists of the zhushi notes and there is also a bibliographical section in each case. Of course, the version of 2018 lists more titles than the earlier account.

9When reviewing the book of 2005 for Archipel, I gained the impression that this was a finely prepared work. The same applies to the new version of 2018. In fact, both items are valuable contributions to the field of Asian maritime history. Therefore, if possible, one should use them together, along with other relevant sources. Generally, the version of 2018 provides more details and in cases of doubt may offer better solutions, but there may be exceptions as well. Furthermore, as was already stated, in China the 2005 version (combining the “Sanbao” chaoben with three other chaoben) has largely substituted the annotated text by Feng Chengjun (dominated by the “Jilu huibian”); the question is whether the book of 2018 (combining the “Sanbao” chaoben with four other chaoben and the “Jilu huibian”) will gradually substitute the one of 2005.

10Of course, we cannot totally exclude the possibility that librarians and collectors will eventually unearth hitherto unknown manuscripts or prints of the YYSL. The evolution of the YYSL is an extremely complex theme as Wan Ming has so brilliantly shown in both her introductions. That involves meticulous comparisons, fact-finding and even some guess work. Future discoveries may still require certain modifications of the present “story.” Notwithstanding, Wan Ming, so it seems to me, has established a safe structure or frame for the editorial history of the text, and that structure will serve many needs. This is why the present book is an important item that should be acquired by scholars working in different branches of history.

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Roderich Ptak, « Ming chaoben “Yingyai shenglan” jiaozhu 明鈔本《瀛涯勝覽》校注. By Ma Huan 馬歡. Edited by Wan Ming 萬明. Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe, 2018. 2 + 60 + 2 + 285 pages. ISBN 978-7-218-12608-1. »Archipel, 96 | 2018, 173-176.

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Roderich Ptak, « Ming chaoben “Yingyai shenglan” jiaozhu 明鈔本《瀛涯勝覽》校注. By Ma Huan 馬歡. Edited by Wan Ming 萬明. Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe, 2018. 2 + 60 + 2 + 285 pages. ISBN 978-7-218-12608-1. »Archipel [En ligne], 96 | 2018, mis en ligne le 20 novembre 2018, consulté le 05 décembre 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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