Salt Production Techniques in Ancient China

The Aobo tu


The Aobo tu, the 'Illustrated Boiling of Sea Water', was completed and published by Chen Chun in 1334. It is the world's earliest extant work exclusively dealing with salt production and salt production techniques. The first part of this book focuses on the technical, fiscal, administrative, social and economic background of the Aobo tu. It also provides the reader with information on the various editions and related material. This is followed by a complete annotated translation and the reproduction of two different sets of illustrations. By combining research on various aspects of the salt industry during the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) periods, a better understanding of the fiscal and economic importance of this crucial sector can be gained.

Biographical Note

Yoshida Tora is Professor at Risshô University, Tokyo, and has published numerous articles and books on the social and economic history of China. Hans Ulrich Vogel is Associate Professor at the Institute of Chinese Studies of the University of Heidelberg and collaborator of the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge.

Review Quotes

' ...a sinological masterpiece.' Madeleine Zelin, The Journal of Asian Studies, 1994. ' ...outstanding book.' S.A.M. Adshead, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, 1994. ' Its great strength lies in the clarity and detail with which it informs the reader of the exact ground for reaching conclusions on various questions relating to the Aobo tu , and to the Song-Yuan sea-salt industry.' Helen Dunstan, JAH, 1994. ' Damit wird das Werk nicht nur für Salinenhistoriker sondern darüber hinaus für weite Bereiche unverzichtbar sein.' Peter Piasecki, Journal of Salt-History, 1994. ' ...with citations to many primary sources, ...this the most extensive Western account of salt production in China.' R. P. Multhauf, ISIS, 1994. ' The combination of text, translation, and background information included in this volume make it a very useful resource both for specialists studying the history and sociology of Chinese technology and for those with wider interests in the history of technology.' Mary E. Tiles, China Review International, 1995. ' Nicht nur bei Sinologen wird dieses Werk Beachtung finden, sondern ebenso bei allen Historikern des Abendlandes, die sich mit der Geschichte des Salzes befassen.' Prof.Dr. Jean-François Bergier, Der Anschnitt, 1994. ' Divers talents se sont unis, à travers les âges et les continents, pour nous donner cette petite merveille...premier ouvrage au monde exclusivement consacré au sel et première collection d'illustrations réalistes du processus de la production saline...' Françoise Aubin, Etudes Chinoises, 1995.


sinologists interested in the technical, social, economic and institutional history of China, and historians interested in salt production.