Fan Chengda (1126-1193) was a high-ranking Chinese government official in Guangxi, an experienced traveller, a keen observer, and a gifted writer. His observations on subjects ranging from minerals and caves, to flora and fauna, to wines, aromatics, and ingredients used in Chinese medicine, to weapons, indigenous customs, and other topics that caught his attention are always interesting and revealing and constitute an important contribution to the literature on Song dynasty China's frontier peoples. Treatises of the Supervisor and Guardian of the Cinnamon Sea (Guihai yuheng zhi) is at once a gazetteer, an ethnography, and a natural history of south China--mainly Guangxi and Hainan--and its indigenous people during the twelfth century. The Treatises were written in direct, unadorned, and allusion-free classical Chinese prose. Now, for the first time in English, a complete and annotated translation of this major work captures its charm and significance for new generations of scholars. James M. Hargett's meticulous and readable translation brings Fan Chenda's voice to life.
Extensive annotations supplement the translation with historical background, as well as modern scientific terminology relating to the topics described. Hargett's instructive introduction details the history of the Treatises, discusses Fan's writing style and use of language in the text, and explores the context in which the book was written. Historians, anthropologists, geographers, biologists, and environmental scientists will all find much of interest in Treatises of the Supervisor and Guardian of the Cinnamon Sea. James M. Hargett is professor of Chinese at the State University of New York, Albany. He is the author of Stairway to Heaven: A Journey to the Summit of Mount Emei and translator of Riding the River Home: A Complete and Annotated Translation of Fan Chengda's (1126-1193) Boat Trip to Wu (Wuchuan lu). 13 illustrations, 2 maps