Dataset of Song Letters

coded letters.jpg

Excel spreadsheet containing information about Song letters.

This dataset is a subsidiary project of CBDB, compiled by researchers at Peking University and in Taiwan. It is incomplete but it already contains information about more than 8,800 epistolary connections between Song persons. This dataset is based on 17,957 letters by 611 authors in the collection Complete Song Prose (Quan Song wen) (An index of that collection is available here). I am using the version updated on 2013.3.11.

This dataset, in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, includes the following columns:

-          Letter ID

-          Author

-          ID of author in CBDB

With this ID I can extract biographical data about the author from CBDB.

-          Title of letter

The title, usually contain these 3 components:

1. Nature of epistolary exchange (sent, reply to, to congratulate, submit up to, to ask, etc.)

2. Honorific title of recipient

3. Sub-genre of letter

Although usually posthumously assigned, these titles will be very useful for understanding how letters were categorized.

-          Number (of letter in a consecutive series)

-          Recipient

-          ID of recipient in CBDB

Same as the information about authors, with this ID I can extract biographical data about the recipients from CBDB.

-          Source (volume and page numbers)

-          Notes (including additional information about the author)

-          Sub-genre

There is some problem with this column as it defines all the letters to be in the “shu (formal letters) subgenre. That is apparently wrong. I can probably make use of the information in the “title of letter” above to amend this.


by Lik Hang Tsui