Qiming Yaoshu 齐民要术


Qimin Yaoshu(《齐民要术》qímín yàoshù) was written at the end of the Northern Wei Dynasty (533-534) by Jia Sixie(贾思勰 Jiǎ Sīxié), an outstanding agricultural scientist. Qimin Yaoshu is one of the earliest monographs on agriculture in the world and the most completed one existing in china. The book systematically summarized the agricultural science and technology in the north of China before its time, including the sectors of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fishing, byproduct, and etc. It can be called an agricultural encyclopedia of the ancient China.

The book is totally 10 volumes, 92 pieces and more than 110,000 words, consisted of three parts as “preface”, “scattered essays”, “text”. The “scattered essays” was subjoined by the late generations. The preface, as the outline of the book, introduces the guide principle, content, information collection and the writing purpose of the book. “Qimin” refers to the ordinary people, while “Yaoshi” means the way for making a living. The name of the book reveals the writer’s aim to call for the government’s attention to the agricultural production, thus making the country prosperous and the people live a happy and well-off life.

Qimin Yaoshu , large in volume, has quite an accurate structure and abundant content On the basis of the agronomy of the previous dynasties, it made a complete and systematical summary of the new experience and achievements of the agricultural production on the dry land of the Yellow River area during 400 years since the Wei and Jin dynasties.

Since its publication, Qimin Yaoshu had attracted the attentions of the previous governments and profoundly influenced the creation mode for the scientific and technical works on agriculture of the late generations, and it also had great influence in the foreign countries, e.g. Darwin (1809—1882), the famous Britain scholar, had cited from the book some relevant examples as the proof for his famous theory, the Evolution Theory. Some European and American scholars have made research on the Qimin Yaoshu, and called it “a preeminent, outstanding, systematic and complete agricultural scientific theory and a practical master piece in the world”.

The Qimin yaoshu is the oldest completely surviving agricultural text of China. Jia Sixie stresses the importance of agriculture for the welfare of society and the whole state.

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