Chuci (Ode of Chu)
Chuci (楚辞) was a poetic genre first attributed to Qu Yuan. It later became the title for the first anthology of poetry depicting the culture in south China. Chuci was so named because it made use of Chu (now Hunan and Hubei provinces) dialect, accent, and local special genres to describe the unique landscape, history, and folklore of the State of Chu. The term chuci first appeared in the early Western Han Dynasty, and later Liu Xiang compiled a literary collection including 16 pieces written by Qu Yuan, Song Yu, Huainan Xiaoshan (a group of authors of the Western Han Dynasty), Dongfang Shuo, Yan Ji, Wang Bao, and Liu Xiang. When Wang Yi later compiled Verses from the Odes of Chu, he added a work of his own to the collection, making it an anthology of 17 works. Through its distinctive genre and unique cultural elements, chuci reflected the special culture of the Chu region in southern China. As a genre, chuci is characterized by profound emotions, wild imagination, and rich allusions to the remote historical mythology from the dawn of Chinese history. It demonstrates an innovative and distinctive literary genre and spirit, standing with The Book of Songs as twin literary pinnacles. Later generations called this genre Chuci Style or Sao Style (Flowery Style), and its research chuci studies.
It can be ascertained that works by Qu Yuan and his contemporaries in the State of Chu borrowed literary elements from the classics of the past ages, but also blended some stylistic features from the Warring States Period. Though less outstanding than The Book of Songs, they were masterpieces in poetry. (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)
Generally speaking, the literary works of Qu Yuan and Song Yu used Chu dialect and exploited Chu rhythm and tunes to depict the landscape and scenery in Chu, hence called chuci, or odes of Chu. (Huang Bosi: Preface to Odes of Chu [Revised Edition])