Sancai Tuhui

Sancai Tuhui, compiled by Wang Qi (Chinese: 王圻) and his son Wang Siyi (Chinese: 王思义), is a Chinese leishu encyclopedia, completed in 1607 and published in 1609 during the Ming dynasty, featuring illustrations of subjects in the three worlds of heaven, earth, and humanity.

Sancai Tuhui
Sancai Tuhui World Map.jpg
The world map Shanhai Yudi Quantu in Sancai Tuhui
Traditional Chinese三才圖會
Simplified Chinese三才图会


The title of this encyclopedia has been variously translated into English as “Illustrations of the Three Powers”,[1] “Collected Illustrations of the Three Realms”, “Pictorial Compendium of the Three Powers”, and others; in the original title, “Sancai” refers to the three realms of “heaven, earth, and man”, and “Tuhui” literally means “collection of illustrations”.


This encyclopedia is organized into 106 chapters in 14 categories (astronomy, geography, biographies, history, biology, and such), with text and illustrations for the articles. Reproductions of this encyclopedia are still in print in China.

While it contains some inaccurate or mythological articles (for example, the articles on the horseshoe crab and the crane), it also distinguished itself from the common “everyday encyclopedias” (riyong leishu 日用類書) at that time by being accurate in some other articles (for example, accurate depictions of the Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese people’s clothing, and a very accurate world map (the Shanhai Yudi Quantu).

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

  • (in Chinese)
  • (in Chinese)
  • (in Chinese) (World Maps in the Ming Dynasty from the Shanghai Xuhui District Library (This page is a “what’s new” page and can expire any time)
  • (in English) - Wang, Cheng-hua. ""Art and Daily Life: Knowledge and Social Space in Late-Ming Riyong Leishu"" (PDF). (207 KiB), pp. 8–9.
  • (in Chinese)
  • (in Chinese)
  • (in English) (A map from the Chinese encyclopedia)