Pigs Again: Li Shizhen's Ming Dynasty Map


After my posting last year of “Pigs. Shit, and Chinese History,” Sigrid Schmalzer was kind enough to share this map which she drew based on the works of the Ming dynasty scholar Li Shizhen (李時珍; 1518-1593) mostly widely known for his Bencao Gangmu (本草綱目).

It looks to me as if Li was as much concerned with how the meat would taste as with other qualities!


  1. Nice map. I wonder how many of these places he had actually been to and how many he was relying on information from others for. I suspect that for a lot of officials the standard “inside information” that one wanted before taking up a new post was less the typical stuff about local customs and the skinny on your superiors but if it was possible to get any good food there.

  2. OK, Alan, are you saying that what they wanted was the “skinny” on their superiors and “fatty pigs”? (I’m trying to resist anything about pork barrel spending).

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