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The Four Categories (四库全书)

The four categories (sibu 四部) is an old system of categorizing literature in China.In this encyclopedia I will follow the complex Siku quanshu system but I do not treat every book contained in this vast collection.

In a wider sense can it can be compared with modern librarian systems to arrange book in certain categories. The origin of the sibu system is not clear but it already appears in the oldest extant library catalog, the catalogue of the imperial library at the beginning of the Later Han (Houhan 后汉) period (25-220 AD) as recorded in the Hanshu 汉书 “The history of the (Former) Han dynasty” (30 Yiwen zhi 艺文志). It finds its perfection in the classificatory system of the collection Siku quanshu 四库全书 “The complete books of the Four Storehouses”, a kind of officially acknowledged library which was compiled on imperial orders during the late 18th century. Other collectanea also follow the four category system, like the Sibu congkan 四部专刊 or the Sibu beiyao 四部备要.

On the other side I will also introduce literature not contained in the Siku quanshu.

經部 Jing Confucian Classics (incl. music, dictionaries and elementary learning)
史部 Shi Historiography and politics
子部 Zi Masters, philosophers and treatises
集部 Ji Anthologies (Belles-lettres, poetry and collected writings)
未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » The Four Categories (四库全书)
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