Brill's Chinese - English Dictionary Online starts off with the Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese. Compiled by Paul W. Kroll and a small group of assisting scholars, it is a practical lexicon of more than 8,000 characters. Arranged alphabetically by Pinyin romanization, this long-awaited tool facilitates reading historical, literary, and religious texts dating from, in the first place, the Warring States period through the Tang dynasty. The dictionary is primarily a zidian 字典, not a cidian 詞典, but in addition to single-graph entries includes an abundance of lianmianci 連綿詞 and important compounds, as well as accurate identifications of plants, animals, and assorted technical terms in various fields. In short, an essential tool and the English-language resource of choice for students of pre-Song texts, and far beyond. And for years to come.
One of the more overlooked forms of Chinese poetry is that called by the word zan 讚 or “appreciation.” Here we examine the pre-Tang use of the term in its application both to a summary prose or verse statement in historical texts as well as to a form of verse often regarded as akin to the song 頌 or “laud” but especially associated with illustrations or paintings. Discussion then proceeds to a focus on and analysis of Li Bo’s 李白 seventeen extant zan poems, nearly all of which are about or were inscribed on paintings. These poems can be divided among three categories: those on portrayed individuals, those on objects and scenes, and those on Buddhist topics. Li Bo’s zan give evidence of certain new as well as differently emphasized developments in the form.