Volume 4, Issue 1
Learning about Precious Goods: Transmission of Mercantile Knowledge from the Southern Song to Early Ming Period

CHEN Kaijun

饒宗頤國學院院刊, 4 (2017), pp. 291-327.

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  • 摘要

The current paper studies the transmission and transformation of mercantile knowledge about precious goods (baohuo 寶貨 ) in the middle period of China, from the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) to the early period of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), by scrutinizing the appropriation and modification of texts among three handbooks dealing with these good, namely, (A) Baibao zongzhen ji 百寶總珍集 (Compendium of Numerous Treasures and Rarities) compiled by an anonymous author in the Southern Song dynasty, (B) "Baohuo bianyi" 寶貨辨疑 (Assessment of Precious Goods) collected in an everyday encyclopedia of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), and (C) "Zhenqi lun" 珍奇論 (On Precious Objects) in the Gegu yaolun 格古要論 (Essential Criteria of Antiques) complied by Cao Zhao 曹昭 (fl. 14th c.). By comparing the entries on jade, gold/silver and pearls in the three texts, the paper points out that later appropriation of early mercantile experience was a result of the pursuit of profit, while the differences among them reveal changes in consumer preferences and in the transmission and transformation of specialist knowledge throughout the ages.