An Overview of Selected Classical Chinese Texts
E Bruce and A Taeko Brooks

 E Bruce BrooksA Taeko Brooks

This overview had its origin in material on Chronology provided in 2007 to the Thesaurus Linguae Sericae. It includes dates and descriptions of several early Chinese texts, arranged in chronological order by their earliest portions, and accompanied by introductions to the periods from from which they come. Some titles are linked to the more detailed statements elsewhere on this site. We use color to distinguish persons (including fictive persons) and institutions from texts which may be attributed to those persons or institutions, and we enter some misdated texts at the places which they occupy in the traditional understanding, as well as in their correct chronological position.

The result is a rather long Internet page, which we believe is at the same time the world's shortest, as well as its most accurate, history of Chinese literature. To skip to a particular period in that history, click on the appropriate link below:


Shang Oracle Bone Inscription
Shang is the point at which China begins to have something like a recorded history, and that history begins in the reigns of the last few Shang rulers, with the importation of a Near Eastern culture complex which included the chariot, the horse (whose name in Chinese is of Indo-European origin), bronze casting, and, crucial to our subject, the idea of writing.

[Shu Documents]: Purported speeches of Shang Kings such as Tang (the 1st) or Pan Gvng (the 18th), from an age when writing itself seems not to have existed, not to mention any pre-Shang rulers, make up a sizable part of the present Shu corpus. None of them has the slightest chance of being genuine; they are theory-motivated later imaginings. See below for the Shu as a collection. [Top]

Oracle Bone Inscriptions: c01200-c01040 (Keightley). Wu Ding, the first Shang King for whose reign oracle bone records exist, is the 21st of 29 Shang Kings. The divination records for this late period of Shang show the Palace community as nervous about the good will of Heaven, and repeatedly divining about current or future situations. The resulting records, though made without any historical intent, can sometimes yield the microhistory of a drought or a campaign (Shaughnessy). Except for the names of most of its kings (preserved as a list for ritual purposes), Shang is a part of Chinese history which was virtually unknown to later China; it was recovered by scholarship only in the 20th century. In the early years of oracle bone studies, forgeries proliferated (Tung 63f); it is assumed that this confusion has now been competently disposed of. The bone inscriptions imply several points of Shang/Jou cultural discontinuity, but these hints have so far not been followed up, perhaps because they transgress a notion popular in our own time: the self-identity of China since the Paleolithic. [Top]

Part of a Jou Bronze Inscription


The Jou conquest of Shang inaugurates the period to which Chinese philosophical sensibilities, or at any rate Confucian ones, chiefly go back. Early Jou has been a favorite target for the retrojection of themes and concepts which later political thinkers wanted to establish as "classical," leading to the widespread creation of spurious documents in Warring States and later times. The first problem with Jou is thus to sort out the evidence for it. What is roughly clear is that the Jou indirect sovereignty system (by some called feudalism: land in return for military service) worked fairly well for the first few centuries, and then went into decline, ending in the ejection of the Jou Kings from their homeland in the northwest. Whether that decline was due to personal indiscretions of the Jou rulers, to large scale and long term economic and ecological changes, or to other factors, awaits serious investigation.

[Shu Documents]: The heart of the Shu corpus, for those who look to them for the pure early tradition of Jou, is a group which purport to be from the reign of the third Jou King, Chvng-wang, and thus to reflect the thought of Jou-gung, the unspeakably virtuous regent for that King during his minority. Jou-gung was the founder of the Lu ruling house, and it is from the Confucians of Lu in later times that the strongest claims for the authenticity of these Jou-gung documents are made. Go figure. None of these supposed documents was ever cited until mid Warring States times (04c). Their language does not agree (or agrees in different particulars) with the grammatical system of the bronze inscriptions, as it should if these texts come from the same period as the bronze inscriptions. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions. See below for the Shu as a collection. [Top]

Bronze Inscriptions: Inscribed bronzes exist for all periods of Jou, though they are commoner for the periods when Jou itself was functioning well. They are in principle an unimpeachable source for the ways of Jou. Unfortunately, the craftsmen of later ages knew this, and the forgery of ancient vessels, particularly ones with historically significant inscriptions, was a major industry from at least Sung onward. Study confined to securely provenanced inscriptions suggests a reasonable history for the deeds and institutions of Jou; one which connects well with the better documented centuries which follow. [Top]
Spring and Autumn

The Jou Dynasty came to an effective end in 0771. In the absence of the overlord power, the former feudal domains fended for themselves as a multistate system, coming into contact, and eventually into conflict, over increasingly wide distances. Military power increased, but the elite chariot warfare on which these states relied had limited expansion possibilities, and during the entire Spring and Autumn period no major state was in fact destroyed by any other. The military elite also discharged the senior civil functions; there were not two classes of personnel. The whole period was characterized by an authority vacuum at the Top, where the Jou had been, and by power politics below. War was waged for real and not for ritual ends, and there was no mediating hegemon or anything approaching a system of international law.

[Shr]: Some ritual hymns of the Jou house, which were incorporated into the growing Shr repertoire at the end of the 05c, may go back to Spring and Autumn times. Whether any of them date from the Jou Dynasty proper is a difficult question. See below for the Shr as we have it. [Top]

[Shu]: It might be thought that Shu documents purporting to come from the Spring and Autumn period are more likely to be genuine than those ascribed to Shang or Jou. They are, however, among the least plausible of the Shu documents. Shu documents are first cited in Warring States texts in the middle 04th century; they were apparently constructed in order to be cited in the early theory debates. The more credible Shu purporting to relate to Jou-gung are first heard from in the Chin dynasty; it seems likely that they are merely later and more expert forgeries than the Warring States ones. See below for Shu as we have it. [Top]

[Yi]: That our Yi was used in Spring and Autumn times as a divination manual and wisdom text is a fantasy of the later Dzwo Jwan; no other evidence supports that claim (the Shr poems that seem to do so are late or interpolated). See below for the proto-Yi and the expanded canonical Yi. [Top]

Fragment of the Chun/Chyou (Recording the Death of Chi Hwan-gung). From the Han Stone Classics

Chun/Chyou: 0752-0479. A portion of the court chronicle of Lu, maintained year by year as a record of supernaturally and diplomatically significant events. During the reign of Lu Mu-gung, the CC text as it then existed became available to the Kung family, who proceeded to interpolate four false eclipse records in celebration of their Kung ancestors, but otherwise left the text untouched. The portion available to the Kungs reached at least through the reign of the Lu ruler Dau-gung (died 0431), but all that is presently preserved together with the Dzwo Jwan commentary is the portion down to the death of Confucius in 0479. The DJ itself continues to give information down to the 4th year of Dau-gung (0464), and this may have been based on the corresponding CC entries; but we do not possess the CC text itself for that or any later period. The CC was at first studied (by the DJ people) as a record of ancient ritual, and later as the basis for a moralizing interpretation of history (see Dzwo Jwan). The CC is a contemporary witness to almost the whole of the Spring and Autumn period, and is of incalculable value for history. It has been systematically neglected in modern times, in favor of the politically and morally orthodox Dzwo Jwan. [Top]


Confucius: 0549-0479. The actual Kung Chyou was born to an elderly Lu warrior. He was early orphaned, and grew up in pinched circumstances in the late years of Lu Syang-gung. He was probably a member of the retinue of Jau-gung during Jau-gung's exile (0517-0510), and served Jau-gung's legitimate successors Ding-gung (r 0509-0500) and Ai-gung (from 0499) in their delicate task of rebuilding the power of the central government. In his late years, he became the mentor of several young men entering court service in Lu; specimens of his advice to them are preserved in the Analects, along with much later material originating in the Confucian School of Lu. [Top]

[Sun Wu]: The idea that a general of this name codified military theory and led the state of Wu to a great victory over Chu in 0506 has sentimentally entrenched itself in the minds of military historians, but it is nevertheless a myth of Hàn times. The myth is claimed in no pre-Imperial text, and is contradicted by all the early historical evidence. See below for the man who was really Sundz. [Top]

It will be noticed that the Warring States theorists were interested in pushing their pet notions back into Spring and Autumn times, doubtless to give them a "classical" standing and authority in their own time. China is an archaizing culture, and nowhere do we see that fact more clearly than in the list of what it attributes to, or thinks that it understands about, the Spring and Autumn.


Warring States Dagger Axe

Warring States

05th Century

The radical political reorganization that was necessary to increase the military power of the state had begun in the late 0500's. During the 05th century, some elements of the new system become apparent: a degree of bureaucratic organization, and a managerial elite which was no longer landed and independent, but relied instead on state salary and thus on court favor for its position. A distinction developed between civil and military careers, and experts in both civil and military affairs begin to be visible in the record. Unfortunately, the 05th century is the great gap in the extant Chinese documentation, and these vital developments are all but invisible to us.

Lun Yw (Analects): 0479-0249. The text is accretional; it consists of a core of genuine sayings of Confucius at the head of the text (most of LY 4), followed by a long tail of material deriving from the successor Confucian School of Lu. Those late and invented sayings interact with other advocacy texts known to be from the 04th century (the early Gwandz; LY 12-13) and the early and middle 03rd century (Sywndz and Jwangdz; LY 17-19). After the extinction of Lu in 0249, the Analects was continued by a refugee group in Chi, who added two chapters. The Chi text of the Analects was still extant in Hàn but is now lost; what we have is the Lu school text in two almost identical versions. As the record of Confucius's home school, the Analects is rightly regarded as the most accurate source of information on Confucius, including both his early and explicitly impecunious public persona (LY 9:6) and his late and more grandiose one (LY 19:22). That pattern of image enhancement continued into Hàn, and at that time, the image of Confucius acquired supernatural dimensions. Confucius's original function, on the success of which the continued existence of his successor school rested, was to provide an acceptable ideology for the serving elite in the new bureaucracy, retaining the dedication of the old style warrior, but grounding it in personal integrity and steadfastness rather than in a reciprocal relation with the state. Confucius as a public philosopher is a creation of the later Analects; Confucius as a culture hero, the presiding genius of the entire classical canon, is the joint creation of many groups of non-Analects Confucians. [Top]

Shr: c0460-c0320. The formation of this text can be tracked over two centuries through the successive layers of the Analects. From the 05th century come the first indications of Shr poems: LY 6:13 (c0460), implying poems of the Fvng type, and a quotation in LY 8:3 ( 0436) of a few lines from Shr 195, a poem of the Ya type. By the end of the 05th century the poems were gathered into a systematic repertoire (LY 9:15, c0405; referring to the positions of the Ya and Sung poems in that repertoire). From its beginning, the collection had a political purpose, and it also acquired a pedagogical purpose. The sometimes indecorous original folksong material (eg Shr 87) was diluted by the composition of more dignified quasi-folk material (eg Shr 82), and the early courtier complaints were supplemented by new poems celebrating courtly life as it ought to have been. These changes permitted the Shr collection to serve as a corpus of positive social and moral exempla (as already in LY 3:8, c0342), though some of the material, notably the "Songs of Jvng" (Shr 75-95), would continue to be resistant to that use (as in LY 17:16, c0270). Some late additions to the Shr repertoire created a classical sanction for ideas which were new in Warring States political theory (such as the universality of rule in Shr 205). By the late 04th century, the repertoire had been standardized at 300 poems, thought to reflect the culture of Jou, and had been generalized as a common performance tradition over all the major states, as part of the Sinicization process that had been going on for many centuries. This advanced situation is the one portrayed in many Dzwo Jwan anecdotes, and alluded to in LY 13:5 (c0322). Further growth in the late 04th century (implicit in several late Dzwo Jwan anecdotes) permitted the inclusion of five alleged Shang ritual hymns (now Shr 301-305). This generalized the collection still further, into a "Chinese" rather than a more narrowly "Jou" anthology. That extension was resisted by conservative Jou-heritage states such as Lu. As we now have it, the Shr anthology is in three major divisions: Folk (the Fvng, Shr 1-160), Court (the Ya, Shr 161-200), and Sacred (the Sung, Shr 201-305). [Top]

Proto-Yi: It is possible that the Yi existed at this period in a proto-form, as a pentagram system close to folk wisdom, which was employed in practical divination at the sub-elite level. That text, as nearly as it can now be reconstructed, suggests trade activity which must in any case be posited from archaeological and other text evidence: part of the new cultural system now coming into being. This proto-form was later expanded into an elite and ethicized hexagram system: our canonical Yi. [Top]

Sywaen Jyw: c0410. This lost text and the Fa Yw are referred to by the "Confucius" of LY 9:24 (c0405) as admirable sets of maxims which however need to be put into practice in order to have any value. The two are probably examples of the sort of wisdom literature of which the Analects (which at this point consisted only of our LY 4-8), was itself another example. The two lost wisdom texts evidently lacked the institutional continuity which alone might have preserved them, but which the Confucian School of Lu did possess. [Top]

04th Century
We here come into the historical light, when enough text material is available, at least in the east, that some historical developments can be seen in outline. Those developments, which amounted to nothing less than the transformation of the Chinese state, were provoking theoretical debate; most of the texts came into being as a record of positions in that debate. Not all the texts were preserved, but those that were preserved were organizationally preserved, just as the Confucian Analects continued to be preserved, and extended, as the house text of the Confucian School of Lu.

Mwodz Ethical Chapters (MZ 1-39): c0390-c0250. These are the pronouncements of a movement led by the almost unknown sub-elite figure Mwo Di, whose only preserved statement is the antiwar tract MZ 17. To this, his first followers added in his name essays on the other ingredients of a peaceful rather than a warlike society, universal love (MZ 14) and cultural frugality (MZ 20), focusing separately on the extravagant funerals that were part of the emerging elite culture (MZ 23; now lost). Further doctrines were added over the years, along with revised statements of the earlier doctrines, eventually resulting in ten sets of three essays each (some now lost), plus two versions of an abortive eleventh school position (anti-Confucianism, MZ 38-39), which may have been abandoned as impolitic in a world where the Micians themselves had come to share power with the Confucians. Once the set of doctrines was frozen at ten, later pronouncements were added to the corpus as single essays (MZ 7-1, placed, in that order, at the head of the text). Like the Analects and several other texts, the Mician ethical writings seem to have come to an end with the Chu extinction of Lu in 0249. This may suggest that the movement itself, concerning whose personnel and location the huge corpus of Mician writings gives no indication, may have been located in Sung, whose former territory was absorbed into Chu at the same time as Lu. The ethical chapters are notable in that successive members of the triplet groups show progressive modification of the original position. The most obvious case is warfare, which is uncompromisingly opposed in MZ 17 (c0390), but by MZ 19 (c0326), the Mician position has mellowed sufficiently to admit the validity of "just war." Similarly, Mician opposition to court music (MZ 32) cannot be documented in the last essay in that series (MZ 34), since it and its predecessor are now lost, but there is a distinct mitigation in MZ 7 (c0270). Like the suppression of anti-Confucianism as basic Mician doctrine, this weakening of a previously central tenet may reflect the success of the Micians in gaining official position, with its requirement of proper conduct on court occasions (at which music was a feature) and of support for the inevitable policy of the major states, which was a policy of conquest as preferable to extinction. The Mician writings, which are fascinating as a record of non-elite ideology as well as of upward social mobility in the 04th century, have been largely neglected by recent scholarship; they are thus one of the more promising fields for future research. [Top]

Dzwo Jwan: c0390-c0312. The text began in Lu as a ritual commentary on the newly accessible Chun/Chyou text. It developed in the next half century as a moralizing interpretation of Spring and Autumn history, and ended in Chi as a piece of propaganda, full of omens favorable to the usurping Tyen rulers of Chi. Its popularity in Ngwei inspired the composition of the Bamboo Annals as a "Jin" counter-chronicle, and may also have stimulated Chu to begin a chronicle of its own. The DJ is completely preserved; at 195,792 characters, it is the largest extant Warring States text. Literarily, it takes the previously rudimentary anecdote genre (seen already in the 05c additions to the Analects) to new heights and lengths; politically, its reinterpretation of the Chinese past along centrist and Sinitic lines is still orthodox. Its orthodox position, its sometimes subtle reshaping of Spring and Autumn history in 04th century Confucian moralist terms, and its undoubted literary appeal, have persuaded many to accept it as a virtually stenographic account of Spring and Autumn. This is the worst error in classical Sinology. [Top]

Yi: c0380. This appears to be an elite hexagram expansion of an older and socially lower pentagram system. Among the additions made at this time were references to Shang and other ancient situations, compatibly with the archaism of other supposedly ancient documents being forged at this time. The expanded Yi was used both as a divination method and a wisdom resource, and by c320 it was already being subjected to formal analysis in terms of the supposed eight constituent trigrams. The Yi was not originally associated with the Confucian school as a whole: neither Mencius nor Sywndz mentions it, and the one or two allusions in the Analects are hostile. But the Yi commentary tradition developed in a Confucianizing direction even as the general culture was developing in an irrational direction. By Hàn the Yi was accepted as part of the Confucian canon; at the Shr-chyw Gv conference of 051 it reached the top of the list, a position which it retains in many bibliographies at the present time. But the Yi, with its direct reliance on magical resonance with a supernatural intelligence, has never lost its slightly unsavory reputation, and those who study it remain something of a group apart within the wider Confucian persuasion. [Top]

Gwandz: c0360-c0110?. This huge accumulation of material began as a series of statecraft recommendations to the ruler of Chi (GZ 1, 2, 3, 7). It was redefined about 0312 by being associated with the already legendary 07th century Chi statesman Gwan Jung (GZ 7 Addendum 2; GZ 18-20), and continued to produce Chi statecraft theory through the 03rd century and into Chin (GZ 57-58). In Hàn, the Gwandz group produced commentaries on some of their own earlier statecraft tracts (GZ 63-67), and otherwise focused on economic management (GZ 68-86). Market manipulation theories like those recommended in GZ 80-86 are attacked as current government practice in SJ 30 (c0110). Of a nominal 86 chapters, 76 now survive. The Gwandz is the most important, and the least read, of the texts which show how the new Chinese state, especially in its eastern variant, was actually constructed. [Top]

Shu: c0370-c0215? Despite some politically motivated additions (see above), the poems of the Shr repertoire were not well adapted to serve as legitimation texts for modern political theories (universal sovereignty) and practices (law). That role was taken up by what we now call the Shu, a series of supposed transcripts of speeches by ancient rulers, some of them more closely patterned on bronze inscription models (Shu 35, 38, and 44; thus Hv Ding-shvng) and some less so, but all bearing linguistic and ideological traces of later origin. The first citation of a Shu text is from the Confucian side (Shu 37; Dzwo Jwan, Chvng 8:6, c0370); the Micians followed suit somewhat later (a lost Shu; MZ 32, c0320). Sywndz brackets the Shu with the Shr, but quotes the Shu only sparingly, though always from within what later became the Confucian Shu corpus. The Analects almost avoids the Shu, and the late Mencius famously refuses to accept one of them as authentic (the Wu Chvng, Shu 31, which represents the Jou conquest of Shang as a bloodbath (see MC 7B3, c0250). The Mician Shu were lost after the Warring States period; early citations of them were the basis for 4th century forgeries (the so-called Gu-wvn or "Old Script" Shu). A set of the Confucian canonical Shu, perhaps augmented in Chin, was preserved into Hàn times and taught in early Hàn by Fu Shvng; his 28 texts are the basis of the Jin-wvn Shu ("New Script") tradition. These Jin-wvn Shu for the most part envision antiquity as guided by a virtue morality of the 04th century populist sort, and project the establishment of law codes and a legal system into remote times, rather than the 04th century to which all credible evidence points as the period of their decisive emergence. [Top]


Dau/Dv Jing: c0350-0249. This was originally the text of a meditation group (DDJ 14,c0350), but it quickly developed into a body of rulership wisdom. It ostensibly opposes war (DDJ 30-31, c0314), but explores the contemporary Sundz's doctrine of tactical frugality: winning with minimum effort. As a statecraft text, it came to emphasize the advantages of weakness rather than strength (DDJ 53; objected to by LY 16:8, c0285); on the whole, the DDJ presents what might be called the power politics of the powerless. The text must have had at least three proprietors during the long period of its growth (disciple-transmission generations run about 40 years), and two shifts in characteristic emphasis may be discerned in the text, independently implying three compilers. Of the three, it is the second who may most plausibly be identified with "Laudz." His contribution seems to have been to have led the transition from meditation-based wisdom to a more openly secular statecraft theory, a failure of meditational detachment for which he is subtly criticized a generation later in JZ 3:4 (c0257). (The retrojection of Laudz into the age of Confucius, as some Jwangdz anecdotes delight to do, is merely a standard Dauist seniority ploy of the middle 03c, and will deceive no one of adult capacity). The accretional nature of the DDJ was decisively confirmed by the extracts from it found at Gwodyen: these reflect a text whose final 15 chapters had not yet been composed, and which has thus been caught in the middle of its growth process. That Chu connection shows an already widespread popularity, of which there is further evidence in Hàn. The situational reticence of the text is unique: it contains not a single proper name or external reference, and its dating must proceed from other evidence. Waley was the first to notice that it came to life amid the 04c excitement about the meaning of words. We would only add that this word-consciousness is an event of the 0320's, and that it affects all the text-producing schools (including the Dzwo Jwan people), not just the DDJ and its direct rhetorical opponents. [Top]

Sun Bin: fl c0343. This is the Chi general who, under the overall command of Tyen Pan, was the architect of victory for Chi over Ngwei in the first great battle of new-style armies (Ma-ling, 0343). In the following year (0342), the Chi ruler changed his title from Prince (gung) to King (wang), and began numbering the years of his reign from 1. This much we have from the relatively reliable portion of the Bamboo Annals. Nothing else of consequence is known or can be plausibly inferred of him; the fantastic account in SJ 63 merely adds confusion to the darkness. From its middle chapters (at a point which might have corresponded to Sun Bin's death), the Sundz text invokes Sun Bin in the ambiguous form "Master Sun," but whether, and how, he was actually associated with the text is not clear. In Hàn, the Sundz was reattributed to the mythical Sun Wu, at which point it became possible to compose an entirely new text under the name of Sun Bin. [Top]

Chinese Warrior

Sundz: c0350-0310. The early layers of the text reflect the first steps in learning to use the new infantry army, whose tactical possibilities and command structure are utterly different from those of the older chariot force; the Sundz is thus rightly regarded as the beginning of the classical Chinese military tradition (except that it does quote some earlier military texts, now lost). The Sundz shows a considerable evolution in its understanding of the importance of terrain and the art of command; its latest chapters (which are placed at the head of the work) deal with larger questions of the civil base of military power, which are also discussed in the contemporary Gwandz 6. This results in a two-part civil/tactical structure for the Sundz, a structure that is imitated by most of the subsequent military writings. Only from a certain point in its growth (perhaps corresponding with Sun Bin's death) was this accretional text identified with Sun Bin (not Sun Wu, who is wholly mythical). To its original 12 chapters a 13th, expanding on brief suggestions in the original work about intelligence matters, was added in c0280, a generation after the text was otherwise closed. A successor text, the Wudz or Wu Chi, was soon produced as a second and almost equal authority. The classical 13-chapter Sundz was opened to further growth in Hàn, as part of the intense Hàn interest in military affairs, and eventually reached 82 chapters, plus 9 rolls of maps on silk (see Hàn Sundz). The vogue of the Sundz among modern strategists is well deserved: it is the most profound text of its size in the military literature of any nation. [Top]

Mwodz Anecdotal Chapters (MZ 46-50): c0345-0249. These represent a Lu branch of the Mician movement, and run in tandem with the Analects for most of their extent. In them, but not elsewhere in the Mician writings, Mwodz is presented as having Confucian affinities, and sometimes also Lu connections. These chapters go so far as to adopt the form of the Confucian Analects (sayings with brief narrative context); they might validly be called the Mician Analects. [Top]

Shvn Bu-hai: fl 0351-0338. The 14-year career of Shvn Bu-hai as a minister in Hán supposedly ended in 0338, and his mature governmental wisdom, if any, should thus be dated to that period. Shvn Bu-hai is not mentioned in Warring States texts, but Chin and Hàn quotes from "Shvn Bu-hai" convey an impression of a state and its unsolved problems which are not implausible for the period of his supposed career. His signature idea in the mind of Hàn was shu, or administrative organization. In Hàn, Shvn Bu-hai, Shvn Dau, and Lord Shang were regarded as the schematic ancestors of Legalist thought, and collections of their supposed sayings were either created (Shvn Bu-hai and Shvn Dau) or touched up editorially (Shang-jywn Shu). Care is required in making use of these late collections. [Top]

Shang-jywn: fl 0342. Gungsun Yang (also called Wei Yang after his native state) led Chin troops to a great victory over Ngwei in 342; for this he was enfiefed the following year at Shang, whence his title Shang-jywn ("Lord Shang"). All early mentions of him imply a military rather than a philosophical career, and consistently with this early image, the Hàn Palace Library catalogue attributes to him a probably inauthentic military work in 27 chapters. Stories about his subsequent policies as a minister of Chin are not inconsistent with the idea that what he did in real life was simply to transfer military discipline to the civil sphere, some key points being harsh enforcement of laws and the application of those laws to high and low alike. This policy seems to have earned him the enmity of the relatives of the Chin ruler, and this pedestrian result is by itself sufficient, without the dramatic legends woven by the Shr Ji, to have brought about his disgrace and death in 0338, in the reign of the succeeding Chin ruler. His name came to be associated with a group of Chin statecraft essays which are mostly from the following century; see Shang-jywn Shu. [Top]

Chin Gu-li: fl c0335-c0320. He seems to have been the leader of a group of highly disciplined and technically knowledgeable mercenaries who, in the early days of the new-type infantry army, made themselves available to assist cities in defending themselves against the new threats which such a force was capable of bringing to bear. Just such a strengthening of city defense begins to be felt in the military texts at about this period. The Chin Gu-li enterprise, complete with its technical knowhow, was later taken over and further developed by the larger and more organized Mician movement. [Top]

Mwodz Logic Chapters (or Mwo Jing; MZ 40-45): c0327-0255. Clarity and persuasiveness of statement was always a desideratum in the Mician movement, situated as it was outside the social mainstream. Separate attention began to be paid to clarity of statement in the movement's third generation, leading gradually to the compilation of a series of Canons (Jing, whence the name Mwo Jing for this group) and Explanations (Jye). The earliest Canons appear at a time when a new awareness of the need for definition of terms, and a concern for the adequacy of language to describe the world, are visible across the whole range of the philosophical texts; Waley called this the "Language Crisis." The second series of Canons relates to the concerns of certain 03rd century texts. Still later come several essays on the relation between names and objects, which most probably date from the period of Sywndz's concern with that same issue. [Top]

Shan Jing: c0320. This five-chapter resource map of China and its environs was probably compiled in Chin as documentation for its future expansion program, part of which was promptly implemented in the conquest (0316) and assimilation of Shu. The Shan Jing is easily the weirdest of all early Chinese texts; it describes the known world solely in terms of metal, jade, timber, and what are probably medicinal plants, without the slightest reference to any artifact of human habitation. With later weird additions, to which its geographical nature inevitably exposed it, it became the fantastical Shan/Hai Jing. [Top]

Mwodz Military Chapters (MZ 51-72): c0320-0175. Chin Gu-li, the probable pioneer in the city defense industry, appears in Mician texts from c0320 onward as a disciple of Mwo Di. The truth was approximately the reverse of this, if by "Mwodz" we mean "the Mician movement as it had developed by the late 04th century." It was at this period that the Micians took over the previously independent enterprise of Chin Gu-li and with their superior organizational powers made it more widely available; the military texts of this period, reflecting the improved defense of cities, tend to write off the siege of cities as not a worthwhile enterprise. The policy of strengthening city defense by essentially military methods might seem strange for the antiwar Micians, but it was a logical second step for a movement which had failed to convince its society not to go to war in the first place. The techniques of Chin Gu-li, including the ferocious discipline which prevailed in his group, were further developed under Mician proprietorship. Reading in parallel the Mician military writings and in the classical military texts, we may watch from a safe distance the appalling escalation in killing technology which continued through the 03rd century and on into Hàn. By the middle of the 03rd century, the ethical aspect of Micianism had ceased to be productive, and Mwodz himself (as in MZ 50) was portrayed as essentially a military leader, with highly organized defense forces at his command. [Top]

Nei-ye (GZ 49): c0330-c0290. The Nei Ye is a partly rhymed treatise on breath control, not only as a way to achieve long life, but also for effectiveness in office; it represents a more thoroughgoing adaptation to government than the contemporary Dau/Dv Jing (DDJ 1-42) had yet reached. The hygienic use of meditation for assistance in coping with the stresses of office is also attested in Mencius 2A2, the first part of which records a genuine conversations between Mencius and his disciples in c0318 (that text gives tantalizing details of the yoga-like technique itself). Nei Ye, itself composed in two instalments, is the first of a series of mediation texts which are included within the Gwandz statecraft corpus (GZ 37, 36, and 38); the later ones similarly parallel the progress of the corresponding layers of the DDJ, and add cosmological and other typical Chi interests to the basic meditation art. Like the DDJ itself, which must be regarded as the classic among all the meditation texts, the GZ meditation series comes to an end in 0250, and that strand of Gwandz thinking was never afterward resumed. [Top]


Mencius: 0320-0249. The core is a set of transcripts of Mencius's interviews with contemporary rulers (0320-c0310, half of MC 1), plus a few notes from conversations between Mencius and his disciples late in Mencius's life (MC 2A2, including its later extension, c0305). Appended to this are the textual leavings of two separate successor groups: a more political one (the spurious interviews added to MC 1, plus the rest of MC 2 and all of MC 3) and a more philosophical one (MC 4-7); the activity of these successor schools reaches well into the second disciple generation. Both were brought to an end, along with the Analects and several other eastern texts, by the final Chu extirpation of Lu in 0249. A later effort (the Mvgndz Wai-shu), whose date is presently uncertain, produced another 4 chapters, which were preserved in Hàn, but excised as inferior by the Latter Hàn commentator Jau Chi. (Judging from the preserved fragments quoted in extant texts, they were indeed inferior). The Mencius and a few closely associated texts (especially the Jung Yung) are the heart of the NeoConfucian vision of China's intellectual heritage. That retrospective focus has seriously unbalanced scholarly perceptions of classical Chinese thought as such. [Top]

Mu Tyendz Jwan: c0315. This fantastic tale of travel to the west, featuring as its hero the last reputable Jou ruler, and complete with a love interest (the mysterious Queen of the West), was composed for the amusement of the Ngwei king Syang-wang (r 0319-0296), and was buried with him when he died. With the rest of Syang-wang's tomb texts, it was archaeologically recovered in 279, and within two years had been edited by a scholarly team. It quickly became popular, and was rivaled in contemporary enthusiasm only by another fantastic bit of exotica, the expanded Shan/Hai Jing (see the poems of Tau Chyen). [Top]

Ji-sya: c0313-c0221. Directly after the departure of Mencius in disgrace (following the Yen fiasco of 0314), and to show "that it knew how to treat political scientists," Chi established six nonadministrative positions, whose holders were charged to produce political theory more usable than the one on which Mencius had been operating, in the hope of avoiding a similar disaster in future. The institution languished somewhat after the death of its founder, Sywaen-wang, but was revived toward the middle of the 03rd century under the Confucianizing last king of Chi. Sywndz was brought in to head the new Ji-sya in 0257, but got embroiled with those who favored the Dauistic and cosmological theories more agreeable to Chi intellectual tradition, and left in 0254 to work instead for Chu. The history of Ji-sya from then on is a blank. The notion that every philosopher of note either taught or studied at Ji-sya, is merely a case of academic wishful thinking run riot. Only three of its six original appointees (Dzou Yen, Shvn Dau, and Tyen Pyen), and of its later ones only Sywndz, whose tenure at Ji-sya was suggestively brief (what it suggests is institutional dysfunction), are of any account in the history of Chinese thought. [Top]

Dzou Yen: As an established Chi thinker in c0313, Dzou Yen became the senior member of the Ji-sya group when it was established in that year. He seems to have proposed a model of the known world which places China in the east rather than the center; a remarkable departure from Sinocentric precedent. Like the Mu Tyendz Jwan, and the also contemporary Shan Jing, this implies a knowledge of places far to the west. Dzou Yen's most characteristic idea seems to have been a typical Chi notion: cosmic resonances. It specified a close relation between astral occurrences and human affairs (as it might be: when a nova is seen in constellation A, a rebellion can be expected in state A-prime). Such a system is highly vulnerable to refutation by events, and Dzou Yen's career shows a series of relocations, each quite possibly caused by a failed prediction in the host country. One reconstruction of these career steps would take him from Chi first to Jau, then to Ngwei, and finally to Yen, where a grand mansion was built for him, and where he presumably ended his days. Yen, which like Chi was located in the zone of the old coastal culture, was probably the most propitious home for Dzou Yen's theories outside Chi itself. Lengthy works are credited to him in the Hàn Palace Library catalog. How much they reflected his actual ideas, rather than Hàn ideas of his ideas, cannot now be known; the works themselves are lost, and no longer available for inspection. [Top]

Shvn Dau was also appointed to the original Ji-sya group in c0312. His contributions to statecraft theory were more useful than those of Dzou Yen, and he was respected in Hàn as one of the three architects of mature Legalist doctrine. His signature idea in the mind of Hàn was shr, or power by position, a notion reflected in LY 13:6, c0322 and also characteristic of the Sundz. Whoever occupies the position of a ruler (says the theory) can do what a ruler does. This in principle leads to the possibility of substitution in the ruler position, and thus contributes to the late 04c and subsequent debate on merit versus heredity in the filling of high positions. The compatibility of his ideas and those of the contemporary Dau/Dv Jing is easily shown, and in this sense, the claim that Hàn Dynasty "Hwang/Lau" or Dauist statecraft thought derives from Ji-sya is not as wild as is sometimes thought. Shvn Dau is much criticized by the early 03c Confucian philosopher Sywndz, as representing the element in nascent Legalism which was most antithetical to Confucian presumptions. In Hàn, Shvn Bu-hai, Shvn Dau, and Lord Shang were regarded as the schematic ancestors of Legalist thought, and collections of their supposed sayings were either created (Shvn Bu-hai, Shvn Dau) or touched up editorially (Shang-jywn Shu). [Top]

Tyen Pyen: Another known original Ji-sya stipendiary. There is no Hàn collection of his work, and it is difficult to get any clear idea of his ideas. Some things which can plausibly be associated with him do turn up (as Fung Yulan ventured to point out) in certain places in the Jwangdz, which at least may demonstrate the compatibility of his thought with later Dauism. Here is the other point at which Ji-sya and the Dauist statecraft of later times may have something more than a specious connection. [Top]

Shang-jywn Shu: c0310-c0230. Somewhere near the end of the 04th century, a body of statecraft writings, not at first attributed to Lord Shang, but based on and adapted from contemporary eastern statecraft theory (key parts of that theory are still preserved in the Gwandz), began to accumulate in Chin. In 0276, when that collection had grown to a considerable size, Chin suffered a major military reverse when Chu reconquered fifty cities lost in 0278, and fortified a protective zone against Chin, thus establishing a base from which attacks were launched in the next few years. A marked change takes place at this point in in the SJS writings: SJS 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6 had been Chi-influenced, but in subsequent chapters, SJS 5 and later, a tougher and more original tone becomes apparent, and western political theory begins to move ahead of inherited eastern theory. It may have been at this time that it was felt desirable to identify the native, and now independent, statecraft tradition of the SJS writings with the specific military hero Lord Shang. To make this plausible, SJS itself had to look more military, and over its two core chapters, SJS 10-11, there were accordingly sprinkled several quotes from the Sundz, which by then was enshrined in the entire Sinitic world as the apex of military wisdom. A third and original chapter, SJS 12 on defense (based on the Mician military writings), was added to take account of more contemporary military knowledge. From SJS 5 onward, in the sequence of preposed chapters, a tougher line is visible, which in turn began to influence the eastern theoretical writings. Lw Bu-wei's patronage of a competing statecraft text (on slightly more Confucian-compatible lines) from c0243 onward deflected activity from the Shang-jywn Shu, whose more drastic approach however continued to be represented by Lw Bu-wei's former protégé, Li Sz. In Hàn, the Shang-jywn Shu was framed by new material strengthening the identification with Lord Shang, in the process reaching its present size of 26 chapters. [Top]

03rd Century
This is the showdown century, when warfare escalated in ferocity and old states continued to be extinguished. The disappearance of Sung after its conquest by Chi (0285) was a shock to thinkers of the period. Conditions grew increasingly hard for the ordinary citizen and the serving elite, both victims in their way of the increasingly powerful and ambitious state. A characteristic of the thought of the period, exploited by some and denounced by others, is the attempt to relate astral events to terrestrial doings, or to model human affairs closely on the order of nature. Literarily, Sywndz showed the possibilities of the longer essay previously pioneered by the Micians, and the shamanistic and incantatory nature of Chu literature began to affect the northern tradition.

Proto-Gungyang Jwan: c0300. This commentary on the Chun/Chyou probably started in Lu, as a Lu response to the recent popularity of the Dzwo Jwan in Chi. It was in simple question and answer form, and focused on the meaning of the terms in the CC. A connection with Dz-sya was later claimed for it, but that claim is merely a validation device. Like the prototype Dzwo Jwan, it presently moved to Chi, where additional opinions of Chi experts (some of them named), amounting to a subcommentary, were incorporated into the text. The expanding text itself took on a slightly Chi dialect flavor. It and the derivative Gulyang Jwan (which was in turn parasitic on Gungyang but did not pick up its Chi linguistic flavor) remained closely held and little known, until shifts of style and policy brought them into prominence at the Hàn court (Gungyang), where Chi scholars continued, as in Chin, to be influential, or among the literati (Gulyang), where Lu theories, especially in ritual matters, were influential. See further at Gungyang Jwan. [Top]

Bamboo Annals: 0299. This is another text whose inspiration comes from the east. In the case of the Bamboo Annals, we have for once an absolute and not a relative completion date, and one which is given in the text itself (explicitly in the slightly dubious "jin-bvn" Bamboo Annals; implicitly in the reconstituted or "gu-bvn" version), and not requiring to be deduced from other circumstances. It was inspired by the recent Dzwo Jwan (completed c0312), which soon became known in Ngwei, and it aimed to replace the Dzwo Jwan as the authoritative account of pre-Warring States history. It is probably reliable for events in the reign of its patron (Ngwei Syang-wang) and his predecessor (Hwei-wang), and for that period it has done good service to Sinology in correcting the botched chronology of the Shr Ji. Even here there are some dubious supernatural elements. As a whole, the Bamboo Annals is a fictive chronicle of Jin and its successor Ngwei, and for the earlier centuries in that span, the composition seems to be controlled by a Ngwei national agenda, interesting for its Confucianization, but not intrinsically credible as fact. The notion that the Bamboo Annals allows us to determine precise dates for the alleged "Yellow Emperor" is not to be lightly countenanced by the serious student. [Top]

Gwo Yw: c0296. This date (courtesy of David Pankenier) is a terminus ante quem non, astronomically derived from the text itself. There is leeway of a few years, and this particular date may mark the end of a composition process begun earlier, but it cannot reach back very far into the 04c. Ngwei Syang-Wang's death in 0296 may have exerted some influence over its final completion. Gwo Yw is the paperback version of Dzwo Jwan. It drops the Dzwo Jwan's ritual commentaries and its basis in a consecutive timeline, and reduces DJ to a set of exciting tales, most of no great length, and grouped under the six theoretically consequential polities of the 04th century: Jou and Lu (the legitimate sovereignty tradition), Chi (the first of the supposed hegemonic states, this section drawing heavily on the contemporary Gwandz material on Chi Hwan-gung and Gwan Jung), Jin (the second and strongest hegemonic state), the geographically pivotal state of Jvng, and the southern threat represented by Chu; Eric Henry has shown that the Wu and Ywe chapters of Gwo Yw are later additions. The focus of GY, and the bulk of its material, concerns Jin, and it stands with the Bamboo Annals of Jin itself as a central-states response to the new eastern chronicle tradition, though it imitates the Dzwo Jwan rather than, as does the Bamboo Annals, keeping to the model of the Chun/Chyou. The GY groundplan reduces the map of Spring and Autumn to its bare essentials, which were still relevant to the military showdown in late Warring States, and does so in a text of about 60,000 characters, a third the size of the Dzwo Jwan (though it would still have made about 24 standard bamboo-slip rolls; nothing to take to bed with you). Again like Dzwo Jwan, but carrying it a step further, Gwo Yw is concerned to establish some cultural history benchmarks: one of its anecdotes is the commonly cited evidence for the earliest coinage in China; another puts the principle of allowing popular criticism of government several centuries earlier than Dzwo Jwan had ventured to do. Like the Bamboo Annals, it is a constructed and not an observed history. [Top]

The Posthumous Mencian Schools: c0296 - c0249. The bulk of the Mencius text is material generated by the two posthumous Mencian schools, a northern one probably located in Mencius' hometown Dzou, and a southern and political one, probably located in Tvng, the site of Mencius's last official position. The northern Mencian text record is our MC 4-7; the southern one is MC 2-3, plus the interpolations added to the original Mencius interviews in MC 1. It happens to be the northern school, particularly in its late writings (MC 6-7) that has captured the interest of later Confucians, and it is also this part of the text that is aware (as the Analects school was also aware) of the emergent Jung Yung, another central text of Sung Neo-Confucianism. [Top]

Wudz: c0290-0265. The Wu Chi or Wudz is second in the line of development from the Sundz, with which it soon took its place as a recognized military classic. (The third is Wei Lyaudz; Szma Fa represents a separate branch). The Wudz has a core of expository material, each section of which is Intrduced by the phrase "Wudz said." Other segments, in which Ngwei Wu-hou (r 0446-0397) asks questions and "Wu Chi" answers them, make up a second layer. The book thus augmented ends with a climactic scene in which Wu Chi's armies go out to win a great victory against Chin. A brief addendum, placed at the head of the work in early Hàn, and typical of the Hàn framing devices added to many of the military and statecraft texts, shows Wu Chi successfully arguing Wu-hou's successor Ngwei Wvn-hou (r 0396-0371) out of his disinterest in military matters. This is already confused, and the claim (in the anecdotal tradition) that "Wu Chi" had studied with Confucius's disciple Dzvngdz (died 0436) is worse yet. That the work was early associated with Ngwei seems clear, and centering it on Wu Chi invoked a presumably recognizable figure who predated Sun Bin, the supposed author of the Sundz, and thus claimed a greater antiquity and authority for the Wudz. Prompt Ngwei development of a Chi novelty has been noted in the Bamboo Annals, and perhaps the Gwo Yw should be included; here is a military counterpart. In substance, the Wudz marks an advance over the Sundz in several areas, notably the training of troops, the provision of transport, and the conciliatory treatment of conquered peoples. It marks an advance over almost all modern military practice by understanding that "the general must combine military and civilian qualities" (4:1). Like other classic military works, the Wudz was opened to further growth in Hàn: the Palace Library catalogue lists it as possessing 48 chapters. [Top]

Bamboo Strips from Gwodyen

Gwodyen Texts: Buried c0282. This is near the center date of the range 0298/0278 which is possible for the closing of the Gwodyen 1 tomb, with its cache of materials which seem to have been the teaching portfolio of the tutor to the young man who later became King Kau-lye of Chu. Among those texts are an abbreviated and topically rearranged selection from the Dau/Dv Jing as far as it then existed. The accretional nature of the DDJ is shown by the fact that no chapter higher than DDJ 66 is included in the selection. This is a statistical impossibility if the selection from a full 81-chapter DDJ was made either randomly or with a preference for statecraft material (which predominates toward the end of the DDJ). The Gwodyen "Yw Tsung" collections are are frankly anthological. Thus a separate anecdote about Dz-sz at the court of Lu Mu-gung, which reminds us of the several Dz-sz anecdotes in the Mencius, need not prove that such stories originally existed separately; it may have been taken from an otherwise unknown text, or been composed as a separate illustration of the validity of remonstrance. A version of the ritual treatise Dz Yi shows some rearrangement of parts as compared to the later version included in the Li Ji. We know that the gathering of such separate treatises into compendia was still going on in Hàn, and the Han versions tend to be reworked from any pre-Han ones. At Gwodyen as at Mawangdwei, the readings of the recovered texts are doubtless the earliest versions, but the arrangements require careful consideration. It has been noted by Goldin that the Gwodyen texts (and we would add, also the early Mencian writings) define the milieu in which the early ideas of Sywndz seem to have taken shape. [Top]

Sywndz: c0285-c0230. This is the only true authorial corpus in pre-Imperial literature. It contains the preserved writings of Sywn Kwang (c0310-c0235), with some material added at both ends of the corpus in Chin and early Hàn (SZ 1-2 and 25-32). These addenda mix Sywndzian dogma with later vulgar Confucianism and accept some texts (the Yi and the Chun/Chyou) which were not in fact recognized as classical by Sywndz. Some portions of the genuine material are datable interviews with ministers or heads of state, undoubtedly somewhat neatened up in transcription, but still useful for reconstructing Sywndz's career. The Sywndzian writings required later editing by Lyou Syang, but are probably substantially complete, though somewhat jumbled from any original order of accretion. Sywndz was later excoriated by the pious as an anti-Mencius who believed that human propensities are bad; he has recently gained more positive attention for his role in pushing Confucianism a step along the way toward its final adaptation to Imperial requirements. He is the only early Chinese figure who can defensibly be called a "philosopher," and has been compared in extenso with Aristotle and even with Aquinas. [Top]

Jwangdz: c0280-c0190. A collection of texts, the oldest of which stem from several small protest groups who were in revolt against the hard times of the early 03rd century; some of these groups went on to make statecraft recommendations themselves. Most of the JZ existed by 0240; a few additional chapters were added in early Hàn. Of an original 52 chapters, only 32 now remain (the 33rd is a librarian's colophon, and not really part of the text). Jwang Jou is both praised and criticized in the Jwangdz (as is Confucius, who actually figures more often in the text than does Jwang Jou); some groups who contributed to the text recognize other Dauist patron figures such as Lyedz or Syw You. The Jwangdz is easily the most beloved of all classical texts, and continues in later ages to symbolize the values of freedom and individual expression. [Top]

Ar Ya: c0275-Hàn. The first three chapters of this work are glosses to hard words in the Shr and Shu, and to some other texts not now identifiable. They form an early subgroup within the 19 chapters of the canonical Ar Ya, and may reflect the pedagogical approach of Sywndz, which in turn seems to be alluded to, perhaps a little wryly, in LY 17:8a (c0270). Confucian learning of this pedantic sort is also satirized in the later layers of the Jwangdz. The Hàn expansion of the Ar Ya converts it from a classical study aid into what must probably be recognized as the culture's first dictionary. [Top]

Yi Li: c0275-c0220. This is the only ritual compendium which predates the Empire. Its oldest portion is the chapters that describe deportment for the capping, the marriage, the meeting among equals, and the burial, of the shr4 or officer, the lowest grade of officialdom (YL 1, 2, 3, 12 in the arrangement of Lyou Syang, which has become canonical, but YL 1-4 in the earlier version of Dai Dv). Given Sywndz's emphasis on li/ritual as a basic principle, it is possible to suspect that this core Yi Li emanates from the Sywndz circle, and since li (ritual) is also complained of in LY 17:9, it is reasonable to locate it in the period of Sywndz's life when Sywndz was establishing a reputation as a statecraft theorist. The case may thus be parallel to that of the Ar Ya. Whether or not it was directly associated with Sywndz, the existence of an Yi Li core is attested by MZ 39 (c0272), which ridicules part of YL 12, and by Sywndz himself, who in SZ 19:7a (c0265) summarizes part of that same treatise. Part of the later extension of the Yi Li to include other aspects of an officer's deportment is attested by, and thus belongs to the time of, the Sywndziana added to the Sywndz corpus at a still uncertain but later time. Still later come chapters which complete the picture for higher social levels. YL 10, which gives protocol for an audience by the Emperor (Tyen-dz) was most likely added by Chin Confucians in the early days after Unification when that party still hoped for a restored feudal structure with the emperor at the Top. As of SJ 121 (c0100), the Yi Li was still known as the Shr Li ("Deportment of the Officer"), a title which is accurate for its core, but which the work as a whole had outgrown already in Warring States times. About Gau Tang, the transmitter of an early form of YL from Chin to Hàn, we are entirely uninformed, save for the statement that he was from Lu. Most of the expansion of the work presumably occurred under people later in the line of transmission, such as Hou Tsang (who flourished about a century after Gau Tang) and his pupil Dai Dv. Still further expansion, in the form of a supposedly rediscovered "old script" version longer by 39 chapters than the previously known 17, also took place; these evidently concocted chapters have not in the end been accepted into the canonical Yi Li. The whole episode merely demonstrates that, in Han, pressure to expand texts under established rubrics applied in the ritual as well as in the military area. [Top]

Jung Yung (c0260-0200). This text preaches the doctrine of integrity or "sincerity" (chvng), in harmony with one of the major tendencies in 03c thought. The inner person and the outer expression must be identical, and if they are, nearly magical results follow. The JY is in several compositional sections. The earliest is reflected in the late Analects (as an interpolation at the end of LY 6) and in the Mencius (a closely similar passage is inserted into the previous text as MC 4A12, and a more direct if not verbatim response occurs in the last northern Mencian chapter, in MC 7 (c0260) . Later strata of the text mention official structures and policies, such as standardization, of the Chin dynasty, and must thus follow 0221. With the Analects and Mencius, the two WS texts which mirror it, and the Da Sywe, which like JY is a composition of this period, the Jung Yung is one of the later NeoConfucian "Four Books," the first-acquaintance primers for the children of the elite who are acquiring their own culture.

Szma Fa: c0260. This military work, attributed to an ancient Chi figure, was probably written in Chi. It belongs to the its own branch of the Sundz tree, and not to the one represented by the Wudz and the Wei Lyaudz. SMF is indebted to the Sundz (it is also aware of the Wudz), but it drops the Sundz's emphasis on attacking weakness, and instead recommends careful preparation and the slow movement of solid units. In modern terms, it is Montgomery and not Rommel. It is highly Confucianized, and incorporates the Confucian (and Mician) notion of just war. It probably reflects the new and definitely Confucian impetus given to Chi affairs by King Jyen of Chi, whose reign began in 0266. The influence of SMF on the Lw-shr Chun/Chyou of c0241 is obvious, but has been exaggerated; the chief military influence on LSCC is the Sundz. [Top]

Tai Yi, One of the Divinities Included in the Nine Songs

Chu Tsz: c0250-c150. The earliest pieces in this very mixed collection are mid-03c Chu unification propaganda (Heavenly Questions, Nine Songs), which intriguingly combine northern beliefs and traditions with Chu shamanic lore. Later poems in the collection are increasingly Confucianized. The long Li Sau poem is written in the persona of the tragic Chu statesman Chyw Ywaen, and several other early pieces in the collection are attributed to him, but are more plausibly seen as invoking him or alluding to him; one factor in the creation of the Li Sau in particular may be cultural opposition to the Northern influence represented after 0254 by Sywndz. The probable chief authors of the early parts of CT are a group of 03c Chu court poets including Sung Yw, the author of the Nine Arguments (Jyou Byen), who is supposed to have served under Ching-Syang-Wang (r 0298-0265). The Chu court had become highly Sinicized by this time, and seeming traces of Chu dialect in these poems are probably decorative rather than reportive. Chu literature had a great vogue in early Hàn, centuries before the completing of our Chu Tsz anthology, and imitations of the Chu pieces were produced by Hàn poets; the whole Hàn fu or "rhapsody" tradition is a wider outgrowth of this Chu model. Some of these found their way into the later CT. Lyou Syang (079-08) contributed the Nine Sighs (Jyou Tan) to this body of literature, and it was brought together and anthologized by the Latter Hàn figure Wang Yi (died 158), with his own contributions (the Jyou Sz or Nine Longings) and with his commentary on the earlier pieces. The exotic features of the Chu Tsz, especially its journey motif (shown in purest form in the Nine Songs, and expanded for its own sake in the Jau Hun and Da Jau pieces), are its diagnostic, as is also true of its chronological parallel, the Shan/Hai Jing. [Top]

Lw-shr Chun/Chyou Ji (LSCC 1-12): c0245-0241. What is now LSCC 1-12 (the twelve Ji chapters) was thought to be a complete and indeed, a universally complete text when it was finished in c0241 by an intellectually diverse team under the aegis of the Chin minister Lw Bu-wei. It sought to give a scientifically comprehensive account of the world and its management. Lw Bu-Wei himself was disgraced in 0237 and died in 0235. The work was later taken up and extended in Chin by Confucian and other writers, some probably from the original team but now members of the Chin Academy, as the Lan (LSCC 13-20; c0220) and the Lun (LSCC 21-26; c0210). These pieces unsuccessfully attempt to contribute to Chin policies, against the dominant centrist Legalism of Li Sz and others. [Top]

Wei Lyaudz: c0235, is the fourth and last of the pre-Imperial military classics. Wei Lyau is supposed to have been a native of Ngwei making a career in Chin, and the contents of the 24-chapter work (except for WLZ 1, an anachronistic framing section which is probably of Hàn date) are not incompatible with this claim. Especially in its second part, WLZ is concerned to formulate Chin practice in the organization of armies. Except for WLZ 1, the text is without a narrative persona or authorial label, and simply describes general strategy, organization, and logistic preparedness. Its lack of interest in field tactics has often been noted, and the author was probably a military specialist rather than a military leader. Its organization by Topic is complete, and in this respect also it represents an advance over its predecessors. The Hàn Palace Library catalogue has two entries for "Wei Lyau," one of them (in a miscellaneous section, two entries before the LSCC) in 29 chapters, and the other (in the military section) in 31 chapters. Which of them might have been a slight expansion of the extant WLZ we do not know. [Top]

Analects Continuation: c0240-c0225. At the time of the extinction of Lu in 0249, the head of the Lu Confucian school sealed the text of the Analects into the wall of Confucian headquarters and departed for Ngwei, where he was able to make a career as a general and statesman. Other refugees, taking with them their memorized text of the Analects, went to Chi and there established a continuation school. That school rearranged the previous Analects material and added two new chapters. The resulting Chi Analects text was known in Hàn, but has now vanished. [Top]

[Mencius Continuation] (Mvngdz Wai-shu): It might be expected that these four chapters would parallel the Analects Continuation in time, but internal evidence suggests otherwise; see below. [Top]

Hán Fei: The person of that name died c0233. Little that may be considered reliable is known about him; it is a reasonable inference that he was from the state of Hán. Early if risky anecdotal tradition (JGT) puts him at the court of Chin, and says that he was executed for slandering a colleague. For the later claim of his betrayal by Li Sz, for Li Sz's jealousy of him, and for his having previously been, with Li Sz, a student of Sywndz, there is not the slightest evidence; these details seem to have been inventions of Szma Chyen, who interpolated them into SJ 63 (written by his father, Szma Tan) which did not originally contain them. (The literary topos of betrayal between fellow students, in particular, is encountered more than once in Hàn writings). The only chapter in the work now called Hán Feidz which can reasonably be attributed to Han Fei is the ineffective HFZ 3 (HFZ 1-2 are manifestly framing elements, either adapted from previous stories or clumsily invented). That piece may have given rise to the legend that Hán Fei stuttered; it suffices to assume that he was personally inept. For the rest, see the HFZ entry. [Top]

The First Emperor's Army


The new Empire made many changes, among them the abolition of differences between the previous states, all of which were now included, if precariously, in a single polity. Script standardization created a paleographic watershed between texts copied before and after this measure took effect; this is the origin of "old script" and "new script" differences. Chin dissolved into a melee of renewed warfare among contenders for the throne shortly after the accession of its incompetent Second Emperor. The discontinuity in book transmission was not as great as the 0213 memorial against private ownership of antiquarian writings might imply: members of the Chin Academy still had access to the court library, and were allowed to study and to write.

Syau Jing: c0220-c0180. This is the subordination text par excellence. Logically enough, it seems to have arisen under the new autocratic Empire. Syau Jing 1-6 (which parallel the portions of the Yi Li that also seem to date from this period) are first externally attested in the Lan layer of the LSCC (c0220-c0112), and so must precede that layer. They may be a Chin Confucian concoction, based on the growing myth of the filial Dzvngdz (already visible in MC 7B36, c0250), and advertising Confucianism to the new unified state as promoting hierarchical respect. The First Emperor's public inscriptions seem to accept this logic by portraying the Emperor himself as an exemplar of filial piety. The remaining 11 chapters of the Syau Jing, which have a slightly different formal and doctrinal character, and which look back more consistently to the values of the Warring States (one chapter insists on the right, indeed the necessity, of remonstrance), may have been added in early Hàn. [Top]

Proto-Jan-gwo Tsv: c0220. Elements of the later Jan-gwo Tsv literature are already apparent, not just as stories, but as stories organized into a collection which draws morals from them, are quoted, complete with their morals, in the Lan or middle section of the Lw-shr Chun/Chyou. In these stories, the central figure is not the mythical diplomat Su Chin who dominates the later literature, but rather the Warring States magnate Tyen Wvn (Lord Mvng-chang) and other desperadoes and employers of desperadoes: the local culture's answer to declining local sovereignty (Potthast and Tuffley). The extent of this first phase of the JGT literature cannot be known, but it was probably modest. The great growth of this type of literature occurred in early Hàn. [Top]

Lw-shr Chun/Chyou: Lan (LSCC 13-20): c0220-c0212. These eight chapters were added to the original LSCC by members of the original Lw Bu-wei team, now working directly under Chin government auspices, and probably in some cases as members of the Chin Academy, where they will have had privileged access to earlier writings. The early chapters of the Lan ("Overviews") were presented shortly after the establishment of the unified Empire in 0221; some points coincide with Confucian recommendations known to have been made at that time. They represent the liberal statecraft of the Chin pre-Imperial and Imperial phases; the recommendations of Li Sz (originally a protégé of Lw Bu-wei, but now the leading representative of the harder ideological line) were invariably adverse to these proposals, and Li Sz's suggestions were always accepted by the Emperor. Some of the worst of the LSCC Lan proposals, such as refeudalization, were actually adopted in Hàn, to its great cost. See below for the final layer of LSCC. [Top]

Part of the Yishan Stele Inscription (As Imagined by Later Ages)

The Chin Stelae (0219-0209) were composed by court ritual experts and erected on various mountains at the time of territorially symbolic visits by the First and Second Emperors; they proclaim the virtue of the dynasty in notably Confucian terms. They began with the Mount Yi (Yi-shan) inscription, during an Imperial tour of Mencius's birthplace Dzou, and continued with more obviously sacred mountains elsewhere. Their public rhetoric is one of the places where Confucian populist theory was not only tolerated, but favored. For the later ban on populism as a publicly discussible theory, see Li Sz. For details of these inscriptions, see the translation and commentary by Kern. The use of stone inscriptions for public proclamations was new in China, but had been long established in Greece, and Chin had long monopolized access to the trade routes leading to Hellenized Bactria and beyond. The term "black-haired people" for the Emperor's subjects makes little sense in these inscriptions, but curiously enough, it is intelligible in terms of the Hammurabi stele of long before, where it refers to a racially different subject population. [Top]

The Chin Official at Shweihudi

Shweihudi Texts (up to 0217). A Chin law official named Syi, serving in what had been Chu territory, died in 0217 and was buried at the Shweihudi site. In his cramped coffin, arranged around his body, were many texts whose bamboo strips had become separated in the years after their burial. They proved to relate to his official function: a few statutes, including one which was explicitly derived from Ngwei; case records; a distinctly Confucianized treatise on how to be a good official, showing the practical appeal of Confucianism for the new bureaucracy already in this period; astrological calendars for both Chin and Chu, evidencing a certain degree of Chin toleration of local traditions; and a small personal diary, giving us a glimpse at the career profile of one Chin official (the standard training period seems to have required two years). It is symptomatic of our ignorance that this trove immediately transformed scholarly understanding of Chin administration. See the translation and commentary by Hulsewé. [Top]

Mencius Continuation (Mvngdz Wai-shu): c0215-c0190. These four not very interesting chapters were excised from the Mencius by its first commentator Jau Chi. The first two (one of them entitled Syau Jing) may have been composed by Chi Confucians at the Chin Imperial Academy, in order to represent Confucianism in its Mencian form (that closest to the preferences of the Lw-shr Chun/Chyou group) as compatible with the new autocratic universal state. The remaining two probably reflect the mixing of many more or less Confucian lore traditions in early Hàn. These chapters have been recovered largely from quotations in Jvng Sywaen's commentaries to the ritual texts, which were written before Jau Chi prepared his abridged Mencius edition. Except as material for the text critic, they are of little interest, and the verdict of posterity seems to support Jau Chi. [Top]

The Memorial Against the Classics: 0213. This recommendation of Li Sz, once adopted, led not to the suppression of Confucianism, but more precisely to a ban on public knowledge of the Confucian classic texts, chiefly the Shr and Shu, which contained a populistic view of the political past that was antithetical to Chin principles of government, and which more generally assumed that the ancient past was authoritative for the present. A similar objection to this material had been raised in earlier Chin political theory (see Shang-jywn Shu). The prohibition in its public aspects was less drastic than Szma Chyen (interpolating a tarted up copy of the memorial in SJ 6) wishes us to believe; a faithful transcript of the memorial is given by his father Szma Tan in SJ 87. The ban was left in force during early Han, and not formally raised until 0191, under Empress Lw. It had never applied to the Confucian members of the Chin academic establishment, who continued (as the above entries show) to read and ponder the archive copies of the publicly forbidden texts, and even to produce new text along similar ideological lines. Li Sz's memorial specifically allows that those interested in the texts for study purposes might apply to one of these court scholars for instruction. See further Shweihudi. [Top]

Lw-shr Chun/Chyou: Lun (LSCC 21-26): c0210. These final six chapters were added to the previous LSCC, probably at the time of the accession of the Second Emperor, in a continuing attempt by the successors of the Lw Bu-Wei party to influence state policy. Curiously for modern readers, but consistently with known policy emphases at the time, they end with a rhyming treatise on agriculture. The Chin Dynasty soon collapsed into a state of general war, and the Lun recommendations, whatever their theoretical merit might have been, became moot. [Top]


A Han Procession


The Hàn Dynasty conquered an empire for whose infrastructure Chin bore the onus, thus giving them an institutional free start. But they did so by means of a system of military alliances, which required the division of that empire, once it had been conquered, into domains to reward the assisting generals. Thus did the diffused-sovereignty recommendations of the Lw-shr Chun/Chyou party, ignored in Chin, realize themselves by default in Hàn. The first century of Han is basically the story of how the central government gradually regained control of most of these domains. Hàn officially excoriated Chin for its cruelty, but took over most of the laws and administrative structure of Chin, and can only be called a Legalist state; it gradually acquired a Confucian face as well. Hàn was a superstitious time, with omens and portents playing a significant role in the conduct of affairs and also in the mindset of individuals. In Hàn, the Warring States period suddenly became classical, and the leading works of that time, both political and military, were not only read, they were sometimes reopened to new composition, in some cases reaching many times their original size. The contact with the historical core of Warring States events and personalities became increasingly vague as time went on, and historical invention, untrammeled by any remembered facts, became an industry.

02nd Century (Early Hàn)

Many of the confusions in our present understanding of the early Imperial texts seem to derive from an actual ideological confusion in the first years of Hàn. Many branches of Confucianism, from the populist to the ritualist, contended for notice and acceptance, and the increased superstition of the time, which was natural enough in a period of sustained calamity and constant uncertainty, favored both the hard line of control which we call Legalism, and a recourse to portents and other gimmicks of intelligibility such as the yin/yang and wu-sying theories, healing magic, baleful charms, and longevity potions. The lines between ideologies were less well drawn than previously, and vulgar traditions about Confucius and other classical names proliferated, alongside more learned development of the respective doctrines. At no time, including the vogue for Palace Dauism under Wvn-di (r 179-157), did a single doctrine absolutely dominate in intellectual circles. We apologize for the confusion, but it seems to have been real.

Hán Feidz: c0202-c0136. Hàn continued, but did not acknowledge, the Chin Legalist system. Under the name of Hán Fei, himself a victim of Chin, an ongoing Legalist literature could be created without reference to persons such as Li Sz, who were known and detested as advisors of Chin. This expedient was adopted by one of the three major Legalist schools in Hàn. Around a genuine documentary core consisting of the inept memorial HFZ 3, unknown writers issued a series of much more skillful and apposite writings, continually adapting their output to the current court fashion. The HFZ as a whole, unlike the genuine Warring States statecraft writings, does not deal with the problems of conquering other states, but rather with the problems of ruling an already existing empire. These problems included court intrigue and factionalism, of which there was no lack in Hàn. The problems of addressing a ruler, which under Empress Lw were of extreme delicacy, found classic expression in HFZ 12. The vogue for court Dauism under Wvn-di shows up in the HFZ as two separate commentaries on the Dau/Dv Jing (HFZ 20-21), which cannot be by the same author, much less by "Hán Fei" (Sarkissian). Renascent Confucianism, which was encouraged by the lifting of the Chin ban in 0190, gets increasingly shrill attention already in the late years of Wvn-di (HFZ 30-34) and into the Seven Kings Rebellion crisis of 0154 (HFZ 35-39). The last and theoretically the most esteemed chapters of the work, HFZ 49-55, are almost apoplectic in their hatred of the dissolution of state power which they see as following on the adoption of Confucian principles; at the time of those writings, the official adoption of Confucianism at least for the lower bureaucracy was only a few years away (it occurred in 0136). Toward the end, the Hán Feidz group moved to assimilate other bodies of Legalist lore (HFZ 53 incorporates most of SJS 13), and so assume the central Legalist role in the ideological showdown. In this, at least, it was successful. The Hán Feidz was much admired literarily in later ages (as is little wonder, given its late date). It became the representative text for early Legalism, and in that role, it was repeatedly attacked by later writers down to the Sung dynasty. [Top]

Syi-tsz: c0170. This Confucian-style commentary on the Yi was found in the Mawangdwei tomb of 0168, and cannot validly be placed in the previous century unless other direct evidence can be brought forward. The MWD version lacks a paragraph found in the present version. It is probable that this paragraph was later added to the text, but the distinctive MWD features of the Syi-Tsz cannot automatically be ascribed to the Hàn standard form of those texts, since many of these (including the Yi and the Dau/Dv Jing) can be shown to have been rearranged or relabeled by their MWD owners. These MWD variants thus constitute a text historical dead end, rather than a new view of the mainstream; the same is true of the Gwodyen texts (c0282). The Syi-Tsz is the most philosophically ambitious of all the Yi commentaries, and itself shows a probable history of internal evolution, the MWD version being based on something which was already near the end of that evolution. [Top]

The Queen Mother of the West Receiving the Soul of the Departed (From a Mawangdwei Burial Costume)

Mawangdwei Texts: c0170. The tomb in question was closed in 0168, and the presumption is that the texts it contained (except for a copy of the Dau/Dv Jing in Chin rather than Han script, which was probably an heirloom object) were recent and currently used. The medical texts in particular, which included both sex manuals and compendia of cures and potions, may well have been kept in the owner's bedside table for convenient reference. Mawangdwei is a Chu site (Changsha), and the tomb owners were persons highly placed in the local royal government structure. [Top]

Dau/Dv Jing B: c0170. This is the Han script or later copy of this recurring text, presumably one made for the son rather than the father of the lineage in question. Both it and the "A" or Chin text depart from the probable textual mainline in ways that suggest rebellious intent on the part of the local government. They emphasize the Dv or statecraft portion of the text by putting it before the Dau or meditation portion. This is an eccentric rather than a mainline representation of the DDJ; as much needs to be said of the also Chu-adapted Gwodyen DDJ. [Top]

Hwang-di Sz Jing: c0170. It was not until Mawangdwei that we knew what the term "Hwang/Lau" meant, and these texts (written on the same silk roll as the B or Hàn version of the Dau/Dv Jing) are a major component of our new understanding; they bring the "Hwang" of Hwang-di into play, just as the "Lau" is developed in the Laudz (or Dau/Dv Jing) text written on the rest of the scroll, or the commentaries found in the contemporary strata of the Hán Feidz. The texts are actually more than four: they include the Jing Fa ("Making Law the Standard"), Shrlyou Jing ("Sixteen Classics"), Chvng ("Aphorisms"), and Dau Ywaen ("Dau the Source"). The ideology of the Hwang-di Sz Jing is mixed Dauist and Legalist; yin/yang type oppositions are very frequent (as in the Dau/Dv Jing itself), though Wu-sying symbolism is lacking (as is also true of the authentic portions of Dung Jung-shu's writings). The economic policy of noninterference continued to be championed by a later Dauist thinker, Szma Tan, and was opposed to theories of economic manipulation seen in the Hàn chapters of the Gwandz. See the translations by Yates (1997) and by Chang and Feng (1998). [Top]

Hv Yin/Yang: c0170. Like other medical texts found at Mawangdwei, this is presumptively a recent text for current use. See the translation by Harper. [Top]

Wu-sying Pyen: c0170. This moral version of a "Five Elements" theory was also found at Mawangdwei; on present evidence it cannot be dated more closely than to the period immediately preceding the closing of that tomb in 0168. [Top]

Early Jan-gwo Tsv Literature: c0170. The Mawangdwei tomb yielded several sets of what from our point of view are parts of the contemporary Jan-gwo Tsv literature, though in a different state of crystallization than our received text, which was edited from several previous sources by Lyou Syang. Some of the sets would have been reconstructible from the received JGT, and others not; some portions of the MWD find are not represented in our JGT at all. The dominant position of the fictional Su Chin in the MWD material is unmistakable, and in this sense the MWD material is near the end of the evolution of these romantic stories of the now classic Warring States past. It was Maspero who demonstrated that they are also chronologically self-refuting: Su Chin can only be an invented character. For the ultimate example of Hàn historical irresponsibility, see the later Shwo Ywaen. [Top]

Mawangdwei Yi: c0170. The Mawangdwei texts need to be considered together, and when so considered, they present some recurring features, one of which is a propensity to adapt and particularize a standard text. This happened with the Mawangdwei DDJ, and it is also seen in this version of the Yi, which has an arrangement all its own, and also uses variant names for several of the hexagrams. (That they are not the mainline tradition names is easily shown by the fact that the mainline names occur in the DJ quotes of two centuries earlier, and are also featured in some of the associated Yi commentaries found at Mawangdwei). There is some fairly obvious sexual symbolism, as is not surprising in a trove containing more than one sex manual. The erotic and the mystical are rather close together at Mawangdwei. [Top]

Wvn Yen: c0170. Unlike the Syi-Tsz, this slightly less influential Yi commentary on the first two hexagrams is not represented at Mawangdwei, and we might thus be inclined to date it slightly afterward. It was however known to the Hán Feidz writers (HFZ 17) at about this period, and its absence from the Mawangdwei Yi materials is more likely to be a matter of choice: the MWD Yi text uses different names for the first two hexagrams. [Top]

Syin Shu: c0165. Not a work by Jya Yi (0201-0169), but a collection of his writings arranged together with collected conversations between him and his disciples, in which he is frequently referred to as "Master Jya." Jya Yi was revered by Confucians after his death, as is already reflected in his treatment in Shr Ji 84 (where his lack of success is thematically linked to the Chyw Ywaen tragic-failure topos), but this did not necessarily lead to the production of Jya Yi spuria, and it has yet to be demonstrated that the parts of Syin Shu which do not appear in the Hàn Shu account of Jya Yi are contemptible forgeries (Loewe). Our present text in 58 chapters corresponds to the HS 30 entry, made at the end of the 01c. [Top]

Syang Yw's Concubine, From A Later Opera Scene in which he Bids Farewell to Her

Chu/Hàn Chun/Chou: c0160. The attribution to Lu Jya (see Syin Yw) is not credible, but CHCC might nevertheless be of about the same period as the Syin Yw: the period of relative stability under Wvn-di. It is a highly romantic chronicle of the battles that wrought the Hàn Dynasty out of the chaos into which Chin had collapsed, carrying the story through the perilous survival of the dynasty under the all but usurping Empress Lw. The CHCC was drawn on for the some of the most exciting and memorable pages of the Shr Ji. It was known to the Tang commentators on the Shr Ji, but has been lost since Sung. A reconstruction based on extant quotations has been made by Stephen Durrant. [Top]

Gungyang Jwan: c0160?. This is the date at which what was probably our present text came to official notice and esteem; at least a beginning of it had existed in written form in the Warring States period. The Gungyang and its twin, the Gulyang Jwan, fluctuate in the esteem of the Hàn literati, the difference perhaps having something to do with debates about Hàn government policy (see Loewe). Gungyang is a centrist text; it disapproves of independent local sovereigns and favors incorporation of other peoples into China; the softer Gulyang inclines toward populism and accommodation. Each claims a transmission genealogy, going back to 04c century Chi (thus the Gungyang, and some Chi elements in its language have been confirmed by Malmqvist) or Lu (Gulyang); see the Proto-Gungyang Jwan. Gungyang tradition supposedly began with Gungyang Gau, a Chi disciple of Dz-sya, and continued in the family until his great-grandson Gungyang Shou. His pupil Huwu Dz-du, a Chi native and an academician under Hàn Jing-DI (r 0157-0141), represents the tradition's first contact with officialdom; Huwu is mentioned by the ranking Gungyang exponent in Hàn, Dung Jung-shu (c0179-c0104). The Gungyang text, which had been relatively closely held until this time, and may have been further adapted at this time, would have been welcome at Jing-di's court since it provided Confucian sanction for Jing-DI's absorption policy toward the local kingdoms, and for his expansionist line against the Syungnu. Since mainline Confucian policy at this time tended in the other direction, Gungyang was all the more helpful as a rebuttal. Dung Jung-shu further developed Gungyang as an authority for legal decisions. Dung's work Chun/Chyou Fan-lu, not originally of huge extent, was later expanded as a virtual anthology of Gungyang scholarship down to the end of Hàn (Arbuckle); the work includes its own Apocrypha. Gulyang Jwan was supported by the antigovernment party in the Shr-Chyw Gv debates of 051 (see Yen/Tye Lun). It continued in general scholarly esteem, and is quoted in the Bwo-hu Tung debates many times more frequently than is Gulyang. Gungyang was chosen to be engraved on stone with the other classics at the end of Latter Hàn, in c180. [Top]

Gulyang Jwan: c0160? Apparently composed as a twin, but also a rival, of the Gungyang Jwan. It goes back to the same early 03c Lu proto-form as the Gungyang Jwan, on which it is in part parasitic. One form of it was known in court circles at least as early as the reign of Wvn-di (it is quoted in the Syin Yw and the relevant layer of the Hán Feidz, both these being court rather than literati texts), but was supplanted in court favor by the more centrist Gungyang Jwan. Gulyang embodies opposite policy tendencies: in common with the Szma Tan (c0109) of certain Shr Ji chapters, and the later Hwan Kwan (see Yen/Tye Lun), Gulyang takes a populist line internally, and an accommodationist line externally; it believes in coexistence both with the people and with the Syungnu. Exactly when these elements were incorporated into the evolving Gulyang is a matter requiring further research. GLJ was known to Szma Chyen (himself a student of the Gungyang votary Dung Jung-shu), who mentions it in SJ 121 as already competing with Gungyang in his day. The only teacher of the Gulyang mentioned in SJ 121 is an enigmatic Master Jyang, the tutor of Wu-di's heir (from c0112). GLJ was championed by Lyou Syang (079-08) at the Shr-Chyw Gv debates of 051, but never replaced Gungyang as the officially approved Chun/Chyou commentary, and it was Gungyang which was engraved on stone with the other recognized classics at the end of Latter Hàn, in c180. [Top]

Syin Yw: c0160. There are problems with this 12-chapter text no matter where one puts it. The fewest problems arise if we accept the attribution to Lu Jya, though not the story (SJ 97) that he wrote it in response to an invitation from Hàn Gau-dzu, and thus in c0200. The Sz-ku editors' praise of the Syin Yw as the finest expression of Hàn Confucianism apart from Dung Jung-shu (c0179-c0104) may stand as evidence, not of early date, but rather of a date somewhere in the vicinity of Dung Jung-shu. This would include the end of Lu Jya's probable lifetime: the end of Wvn-di's reign (0179-0157). The presence of yin/yang and Wu-sying ideas in this only partly Confucian work also fits that period, as does the often noted quotation of a line from the Gulyang Jwan. Both the Syin Shu and the Syin Yw attempt to give a hybrid Confucian account of the newly stable Hàn (whence perhaps the "New" of the titles). [Top]

A Strip of the Dingjou Wvndz (Held by Paul van Els)

Wvndz is supposed to be an earlier Dauist master than Laudz. His existence, and this text including his supposed teachings, are mainly interesting as testimonials to the popularity of Dauism in Han, and as examples of Han freedom in extending texts (like the military ones) or, as here, extending traditions. [Top]

Shrdz: Shr Jyau is said (in theShr Ji) to have been the teacher of the Chin lawgiver Lord shang. A book in 20 chapters attributed to him if included in the Han Palace Library cartalogue. It was lost in Sung, and later reconstituted (in 15 chapters) from earlier quotations. The contents of that reconstituted text are wildly unlike anything which the famously draconic Lord Shang might have taught, and improbable for anybody in Warring States times. Despite its acceptance by such generally sound persons as Chyen Mu, the Shrdz looks like a Han synthesis of the major classical doctrines. This is a game that was being played by many - in the Han Dynasty. [Top]

Hwainandz: 0160-0139. This text, like the Lw-shr Chun/Chyou, whose precedent it follows in other respects as well, was a patron production. It was written under the direction of Lyou An (0179-0122), the Hàn King of Hwainan, between the year of An's majority (0160) and his presentation of the work to Jing-DI in 0139. The final overview chapter, essentially a presentation document, is most likely An's own work; the other authors, who can sometimes be associated with particular chapters, are named by the early commentator Gau You. They turn out to have done double duty at Lyou An's court, just as some of Haydn's orchestra members were also pastrycooks and butlers in the Esterhazy establishment. HNZ has its roots in the Dauism of Wvn-di's time; it is in effect a complete presentation of Dauist-based statecraft; a design for the realm. Whether Lyou An himself, as a possible inheritor of the Emperor's position, had designs on the realm is one of those debated topics. As we read the evidence, the accusation is probably true, and the charge of intended rebellion in Lyou An's part was probably justified [Top]

Chunyw Yi: c0154. The interrogation of this practicing physician by the Han authorities, which is preserved as SJ 105, gives an invaluable snapshot of the progress of medical theory as of that date. The texts he relied on for his own practice are now lost, but are mentioned as earlier works in the Hwang-di Nei-jing. Chunyw Yi agrees with the slightly earlier Mawangdwei medical texts in preferring stone-needle therapy to the later form of acupuncture, and in reflecting a relatively early form of yin/yang and wu-sying theory [Sivin]. The advance of those concepts is paralleled by similar developments in the theory surrounding the Gungyang Jwan tradition.

Yendz Chun/Chyou: c0150. This is a compilation of stories about, and sometimes against, Yen Ying, the Chi statesman and contemporary of Confucius who is already built up in the Dzwo Jwan (along with Dz-chan of Jvng) as a major regional philosopher. Some of the material probably goes back to the 04th century, but the encyclopedic character of the present compilation suggests the Hàn milieu. The work is mentioned in the Shr Ji, and in some form must therefore date from before the period of its compilation. [Top]

Kungdz Jya-yw: c0150. This gathering of anecdotal material relating to Confucius, which was most likely undertaken under the auspices of the Kung family, had probably reached by c0150 the size at which it is reported in the Hàn Palace Library catalogue: 27 chapters. Some items such as the Disciple Register which is incorporated in SJ 67 were not yet, at that time, part of the Kungdz Jya-yw. For the later expansion of the text (with the Disciple Register included as KZJY 38), probably under Wang Su, see below. [Top]

The Hàn Sundz: c0150-c050 The classic 13-chapter Sundz would seem to be beyond tampering, but Hàn with its constant Syungnu wars had a continuing interest in military theory, and under Hàn the Sundz experienced a rebirth. First its author was redefined as one Sun Wu, then Sun Wu was dated about 150 years earlier than the original Sun Bin, and credited with leading Wu to a victory over Chu in 0506. Prominently featured in the new legend was a standard sex-and-violence topos: the story of how Sun Wu disciplined a Concubine Army before the King of Wu; this was enthusiastically (but, as usual, uncritically) incorporated into SJ 65. New expository matter was also added to the Sundz. The revived Sundz continued to grow after the stage reflected at Lin-yi, and it was later logged into the Palace Library catalogue at 82 chapters on bamboo, plus 9 rolls of maps on silk. The first Sundz commentator, Tsau Tsau, excised this later growth to go back to the classic 13 chapters (which was mentioned as the size of the Sundz writings, with charming naïveté, in some of the new Sundz material). On the strength of the Lin-Yi samples of the added material, we may feel that Tsau Tsau knew what he was doing. Not all textual losses are to be regretted. [Top]

Sun Bin: c0145-c050. Once the newly invented myth of Sun Wu had eliminated Sun Bin as the figure associated with the classic military text Sundz, Sun Bin was ready to serve as an ancient worthy around whom a new military text could be written. That text was already well along by 0134 (the date of the Lin-Yi tomb, in which 31 chapters of it were found). By the time Lyou Syang took account of it in his catalogue of the Palace Library, it had grown to 89 chapters of text and 4 rolls of maps. The Sun Bin took note of major innovations since the Sundz, notably cavalry. Its chief ornament in the eyes of its readers, however, was probably the "scientific" tone lent to it by its schematic groupings, its yin/yang and wu-sying correlative patternings, its development of elaborate formations for attack and defense, and its numbered lists of things with their air of encyclopedic completeness: in short, its mumbo-jumbo aspect. It adds nothing notable to military theory and little to operational doctrine, and its failure to achieve classic status will not be a mystery to any analytically disposed modern reader. [Top]

Jan-Gwo Tsv: c0145. The Lyou Syang conflation of six named clusters of earlier Jan-gwo Tsv material was done in c022, in the course of regularizing that material for entry into the Palace Library catalogue. That year thus marks the final emergence of our present JGT. But the earlier use of JGT material in the Shr Ji shows that for those authors, the extent of the material, even if differently organized, was substantially the same as that available to Lyou Syang, and that most if not all of the evolution subsequent to the Mawangdwei material had already occurred. As with many other Lyou Syang productions, JGT was not well preserved in later times and had to be reconstituted in Sung. Of the two attempts, that by Bau (reflected in the Crump translation) better preserves the Lyou Syang version; the more insightful one by Yau (reflected in the HK concordance) reaches back in the direction of Lyou Syang's sources. The Jan-gwo Tsv material evokes the wishful thinking and complex ingenuity of the early Hàn period, sometimes with a certain narrative sprightliness, but as it stands, it is utterly unacceptable for historical research. Using it anyway is the third worst error of Sinology. [Top]

Hán Shr Wai-jwan: 0144-0130. This teaching tool for the Shr had its origin in Hán Ying's appointment as Tutor to the not very intellectual Hàn prince Lyou Shun in 0145. The first four chapters of the work represent four years of a Shr-based tutorial in the Confucian verities; they constituted the original Hán Shr Nei-jwan ("Nei" referring to the palace connection of the royal pupil). That series ended with the majority of Lyou Shun, in 0141. But like many a teacher since, Hán Ying was reluctant to abandon a teaching tool in which he had taken pride. Following Wu-di's establishment of Confucianism as mandatory background for applicants for official position in 0136, Yin sketched in several further years of more broadly intended tutorial, the Hán Shr Wai-jwan ("Wai" reflecting this broader pedagogical intention). None of these sketches was fully completed at the time of Ying's death in 0130. The four finished courses plus the six outlined ones were presented to the throne by a disciple (Master Fei of Hwainan), under the title most entitling them to consideration in the new Confucian age: the Hán Shr Wai-jwan. [Top]

Tai-gung Lyou Tau: c0140. The third course open to someone writing on military matters in Hàn was to find a new "worthy" to borrow as author, by choice one in the Chi tradition (thus the Sundz and the new Sun Bin), and preferably earlier and thus even more authoritative than the newly invented "Sun Wu." Six chapters were accordingly composed under the aegis of the supposed founder of the Chi ruling line, one Tai-gung, who (we are invited to believe) in his old age came out of obscurity to lead the first Jou Kings to victory over Shang. These six chapters are also represented at Lin-yi They consist entirely of questions by Kings Wvn and Wu and answers by Tai-gung. The first two chapters lay the usual civilian and organizational groundwork; the last four are tactical miscellanea: cavalry are integrated into the scheme of things (as is also true of the contemporary Sun Bin text), there are lists of equipment and treatments of some special tactical situations, such as battle in a forest. In parallel with the six fancifully titled chapters, the work is divided into 60 individual question-and-answer units, an undoubtedly intentional number. The tale of Tai-gung in LT 1 is given at length at the beginning of the Chi chapter of Shr Ji (SJ 32). The Palace Library catalogue lists (in its Dauist section) many works under "Tai-gung," the last of them being a Bing "[Art of] War" in 85 chapters. This is probably the usual enthusiastic Hàn expansion process at work, a process whose results a discerning posterity has happily spared us by declining to preserve the text. [Top]

Han Wu-di

The Reign of Hàn Wu-DI

If Hàn has a middle period, it is undoubtedly the long and powerful reign of Hàn Wu-DI, which represented the high point of Hàn expansion into Central Asia, and also saw the official recognition of Confucianism as the standard ideology of the serving elite. From here on, intellectual debates, though continuing, are conducted in terms of an increasingly supernatural Confucianism, which in some of its branches was also assimilated to Legalist arts of rule. The financing of the Central Asian wars by diverting most of the economy to the center was a continual bone of theoretical contention, as may be seen already during Wu-DI's reign. Coterminous with that reign, and expressive of its scope and grandiosity, was the compilation of most of the Shr Ji, the first comprehensive Chinese history.

Shr Ji: c0135-c090; completed later. Begun by Szma Tan soon after taking office (c0138) as Court Astrologer (not, as it is sometimes translated, "Grand Historian;" his duties included the interpretation of omens but not the writing of history) in c0138, and continued after his death (c0209) by his son Szma Chyen; the chapters largely or wholly unwritten at the time of Chyen's death were ordered completed by a later Emperor toward the end of Hàn. The theory that much of our SJ was supplied from corresponding chapters of the Hàn Shu will not stand philological scrutiny. Unlike the "dynastic" histories which followed it, beginning with the Hàn Shu, the Shr Ji is a history of China from its origins down to the writer's own time; its cutoff date was continually advanced, and its original design was continually stretched, as new events occurred and required inclusion. Tan's agenda (which was later somewhat sabotaged by his Confucian-trained son Chyen) was to give an ancient Dauist pedigree to the whole Imperial enterprise, with Hàn as the culmination of that enterprise; this involved considerable distortion of received traditions. SJ also drew on many then extant sources, most extensively on the largely fictional Jan-gwo Tsv, whose probity is not enhanced by its verbatim transcription into the SJ. It follows that SJ, though routinely used by later scholars as a primary source, is extremely perilous when used as as a primary source. It is perhaps more wisely prized as a literary masterpiece, but even that judgement rests in part on its incorporation of an early Hàn narrative masterpiece, the vividly romanticized Chu/Hàn Chun/Chyou. Crediting it as a neutral and omniscient record of the past, particularly the Warring States past, is the second worst error of Sinology. [Top]

Hwang-shr-gung San-lywe: c0125? In addition to extending the classical military texts, Hàn military ingenuity also found an outlet in creating new ones, albeit with a supposed ancient pedigree. The San-lywe is alleged to be the text given to Jang Lyang by the mysterious old man at the bridge in SJ 55. This incident is probably drawn from the early Hàn romance Chu/Hàn Chun/Chyou. The existence of that story was a virtual invitation to supply the text in question, and this text was the eventual answer. Of its three chapters, the first is little more than a series of quotes from what turns out to be the Lyou Tau, so that San-lywe must be later than the Lyou Tau. The second chapter frequently cites another military text, now unfortunately lost. The third is free of open reliance on earlier works; it deals not with conquest but with the maintenance of rule after conquest, for which it presents a highly Confucianized recommendation; among other things, it warns of control of the state being gained by powerful families. This third chapter apparently constitutes a political recommendation in the less risky medium of a military text; it awaits elucidation in terms of contemporary Hàn court politics. [Top]

01st Century (Late Hàn)
The compilation of the Shr Ji ran past the century break. With the death of Szma Chyen, who had earlier taken over the Shr Ji project, in c090, and with that of Emperor Wu, in 087, a somewhat new tone comes to characterize Hàn learned discourse. Ideological and policy matters are now debated in terms of a nominal Confucianism, under some forms of which the previous Legalist statecraft continues to dominate. Magic continues to make inroads upon intellect, and apocrypha continue to cluster around the closed classical texts, like restaurants around a college campus. The grip of polemical writers on historical fact continues to weaken, and anecdotes dating from this period are increasingly unreliable as anything other than emblematic indicators of preferred conduct. An interest in earlier thought, though always of an adaptive sort, is seen in the compilation of both private and official collections of the sayings of still famous persons from the past, the most extreme manifestation of this tendency being Lyou Syang's catalogue of the Hàn Palace Library.

Yen/Tye Lun: c073. Hwan Kwan is said to have composed this tract in the reign of Emperor Sywaen (073-049). In form, it is a transcript of the Debates on [the] Salt and Iron [Monopolies], the Shr-Chyw Gv conference of 081, held under the preceding Emperor Jau. In substance, YTL repeats the SJ 30 protest against the policies of Sang Hung-yang, the Chancellor who is represented as presiding over the Conference (and who died in the following year, 080). YTL sides with the literati against the monopoly policy. It ranges over various issues of theory and policy; at bottom, and openly discussed, is the question of whether literati are of any use to government. YTL 1-41 (ending with a policy compromise) are probably close to the course the debate actually took; YTL 42-59 cover some of the same ground, and end with a summary (YTL 60) which names some of the participants. Hwan probably wrote YTL in the first year of Emperor Sywaen's reign, hoping thereby to bring about a policy change under the new regime. [Top]

Hwangdi Nei-jing: late Hàn. The earliest version of this continually revised work (probably "The Yellow Emperor's Professional Manual," there need never have been a Wai-jing) must be late enough to have derived from eight of the text cited by Chunyw Yi in 0154, and early enough to account for the entry Hwangdi Tai-su in the Han Palace Library catalogue (HS 30), the medical parts of which were compiled in the last years of the 01st century. [Top]

Su Wvn: late Hàn. The work with this title ("Basic Questions;" the medical literature develops in part as a series of dialogues and disputes among professionals) does not emerge into the full bibliographic light until the early 3rd century [Sivin], but something of a precursor is implied in the entry "Hwangdi Tai-su" in the Han Palace Library catalogue. We list it here, along with the entry for the Hwangdi Nei-jing, in order to put on record this stage in the evolution of medical doctrine, however little known it may be, or however uncertainly recoverable from the much reworked and recombined later texts under these or variant titles. [Top]

Shvn Bu-hai: late Hàn. The Hàn compilation of sayings attributed to Shvn Bu-hai goes beyond what can be associated with him on the basis of earlier quotations, and is probably a schematic reassessment of his thought in light of his Hàn role as one of the three conceptual founders of Legalism. The impression given by the early quotes can plausibly be imagined as reflecting the ideas of Shvn Bu-hai back in the 04c; the Hàn compilation, however, seems to have been considerably worked up from that base. The situation appears to be somewhat better with Shvn Dau. [Top]

Shvn Dau: late Hàn. The Hàn compilation of sayings attributed to the 04c political philosopher Shvn Dau goes beyond what can be attributed to him on the basis of earlier quotations, and is probably a schematic reassessment of his thought in light of his Hàn role as one of the three perceived founders of Legalism. The reassessment, however, seems to leave the outlines of his thought as it might reasonably have been at the end of the 04c. This cannot as readily be said of the parallel Shvn Bu-hai collection. At bottom, these Hàn collections are reprocessings to bring past ideas into line with the schematic needs of Hàn Legalism, which was establishing a heritage for itself, in imitation of the Confucians with their ancient authority texts. [Top]

Dzvngdz: late Hàn. This is the domestic version of the Dzvngdz tradition; it adapts Dzvngdz from his role as a leader of the Analects school to that of a family patriarch and exemplar, and was probably a Dzvng family tradition, not unlike that of the Kung family's Kungdz Jya-yw. Some of the material was further reworked for inclusion in the general tradition of Confucius, and in that form found its way into the Li Ji. The Hàn Dzvngdz seems to be preserved in its entirety as Da Dai Li Ji 11-20. [Top]

Lye-nw Jwan: c020. Lyou Syang's original title for this 7-chapter work was Chu-sywe Ji. It consisted of capsule biographies of women exemplifying seven ideal feminine virtues. An unknown later hand or hands added 20 biographies, including some from Latter Hàn, the latest included figure being a consort of Emperor Hv (r 89-106); these were extracted from the 7 Topical chapters in Sung, and gathered together into an 8th or Supplementary chapter. The extended LNJ was probably complete by c110, and thus had the advantage, not only of Lyou Syang's original work, but of Ban Jau's Admonitions of c80. [Top]

Shwo Ywaen: 017. This is the date of the Lyou Syang collation. The Shwo Ywaen versions of the tales which it includes vary considerably from their parallels in Warring States and early Hàn texts, and the material in the SY collection is thus not notably earlier than its collation by Lyou Syang. Eric Henry remarks that in this collection of stories, the form of the historical anecdote loses all attempt at connection with historical reality, and becomes merely emblematic and rhetorical. [Top]

The Lost Lyedz: 014. This is the date when Lyou Syang completed his collation of the various Lyedz texts available to him, and produced a cataloguable text in 8 chapters. That text was later lost, and our Lyedz was recompiled, and in part composed, in the Six Dynasties period (Graham). The Lyedz is the prototype for the scenario of a text lost in Hàn and forged in the Six Dynasties under that now vacant title. Examples are not all that common; the only other one in this sample is the Gu-wvn Shang-shu. [Top]

Strange Animals From Shan/Hai Jing 3

Shan/Hai Jing: Hàn. The older Shan Jing (our SHJ 1-5) was used in Hàn as a geographical reference, but it had also acquired at least three series of fantastical additions (SHJ 5-9, 10-13, and 14-18) describing the wonders of distant places in the Baron Munchausen vein. The growing Hàn cult of the immortality-conferring Queen of the West finds a place in the new material, along with much other mythological matter. SJ 123 disdains SHJ as fantastical, so that at least the first of these addenda (SHJ 5-8) was in place as of c0100. The Hàn Palace Library catalogue entry, made probably by Lyou Syin around 06, gives it 13 chapters, thus attesting both the first and second additions (SHJ 5-9 and 10-13) as of that time. Soon afterward, further material, including the third addition, which may have been already in existence but was overlooked when the catalogue entry was made, came to the Palace's attention, and in an undated memorial Lyou Syin announces the completion of a final version in 18 chapters, which is the form it has today. In that form, and provided with illustrations, it was rivaled only by another fantastic bit of exotica, the recovered Mu Tyendz Jwan, as the most popular recreational reading of the Six Dynasties; see the poems of Tau Chyen. [Top]


Latter Hàn
1st and 2nd Centuries

The restored Hàn was never as strong as its predecessor, and worries for its survival continue to be reflected in the literature as late as c0100. A more rigid Confucianism, purged of its former mixture of other (especially Dauist) elements, dominated the Palace elite, and found systematic expression in the Hàn Shu, compiled by two generations of the Ban family. The weakness at the core of the Latter Hàn psyche is equally reflected in the arrival from India via Central Asia, of fully functional temple Buddhism, and the first systematic exposure of Chinese savants to another language: Sanskrit and its later cousins. In this context, the continual wrangling over the canonical status of various fantastically detailed ritual manuals has an almost comic quality. The real excitement of Latter Hàn, at least in the eyes of posterity, is not in its ritual squabbles but in the epic series of military confrontations which brought it to an end.

Syin Lun: c25. This is the presentation date of the collected opinions of Hwan Tan (c043-c28), which (like the earlier Yen/Tye Lun, but escaping the form of a transcript of an earlier discussion) were meant to offer guidance to the then Emperor Gwang-wu (r 25-58) on the occasion of his accession. The notion of collected writings as a single work, and the independence of mind shown by its author, greatly influenced Wang Chung in conceiving of his Lun Hvng. In contrast to the later and orthodox Bwo-hu Tung, the Syin Lun takes the "old script" position, and criticizes the current interest in prognostication texts. The work exists at present only in the form of collected fragments, some of them dubiously authentic; see Pokora. [Top]

Lun Hvng: c50-c93. The lifework of Wang Chung (27-c93), a friend and exact contemporary of Ban Gu, which were not only collected by their author, but given a cover title. The early essays are famous for their abrasive skepticism; the latest ones are mainline Latter Hàn: more superstitious, more conservative, and more concerned for the future of the dynasty. Of "the more than 100 chapters" (probably 101, in rivalry with Ban Gu's 100-chapter Hàn Shu) mentioned in the present last chapter (LH 85), 84 besides that last chapter itself are now extant. Wang Chung is one of the few heroes of the intermittent critical intellectual tradition in China; the next is the early Tang historian Lyou Jr-ji. [Top]

Ban Gu as Imagined in the Ming Dynasty

Hàn Shu: c50-111. Like the Shr Ji, the Hàn Shu is a two-generation work. Begun by Ban Byau, it was continued and largely completed by his son Ban Gu; the final chapters were supplied (on Imperial order) by Byau's daughter Ban Jau, with assistance at one point from the astronomer Ma Syw. This work was intended to complete, and indeed to replace, the Shr Ji treatment of Hàn history, which to the Hàn Shu authors reeked of Dauism, and was additionally in a vulgar style. True to this intention, the Hàn Shu is painfully Confucian in orientation, and so literary in style that no sooner was it completed than its final author, Ban Jau, was required to give lectures to learned men on its meaning. The Hàn Shu set the pattern for later "dynastic" histories (the Shr Ji is rather a universal history, culminating in the reign of Hàn Wu-di); and the Hàn Shu, not the Shr Ji, is the effective ancestor of later Chinese historiography. It continues to be prized by literate persons for its impeccable style, but at points where it differs from the Shr Ji on matters contemporary with the Shr Ji authors, it should be used with due caution. [Top]

Bwo-hu Tung: c80. Ban Gu's writeup and summary of the discussions about the classics which had been held at the White Tiger Hall in 79. For a text of similar nature see Yen/Tye Lun. As between competing views of the canon, BHT records a victory for the already orthodox "new script" position (thus, it quotes almost exclusively from Gungyang Jwan, with only a few mentions of Gulyang Jwan), though this result seems not to have impeded the continued progress of "old text" scholarship in subsequent years (Tjan). BHT shows some of the ritual texts, including the still nascent Li Ji, in process of formation. The later suppressed Apocrypha to the established classics (Wei) are still in evidence, as are a few Li texts which did not make it into the eventual Li Ji. BHT attempts to define what is inside and outside of Chinese culture. Our text of BHT has suffered some textual losses and some later addenda. [Top]

Ban Jau (As Imagined in the Ming Dynasty)

Nw Jie: c80. The "Admonitions for my Daughters" was written by Ban Jau (c48-c119), the younger sister of Ban Gu, who had been married into the Tsau family at age 16, when her daughters had come to marriageable age, but were not yet married. Its standard Confucian advice on subordination to husbands and especially to inlaws was the only practicable thing with which to equip them; attempts to read the NW Jye as a Dauist subversion of conventional morality are ill-considered. The author departs from convention chiefly in advocating the literary education of women. Of this she was herself an outstanding example: her preserved poems and especially the rhapsody On My Eastern Journey are nothing if not allusively erudite. She was called to the capital in 97 to complete the Hàn Shu, left unfinished by her brother Ban Gu at the time of his execution in 92; in this she was assisted by the young Ma Syw, who wrote the chapter on Astronomy. Thereafter she lectured on the work (which is not the easiest reading in the world) to such future greats as Ma Syw's brother Ma Rung. [Top]

Shwo Wvn Preface: 100. This is the date of the Preface. The text of the work itself, China's first character dictionary, is from several decades earlier.

Li Ji: c100. This is the last of the three standard ritual compilations to have been completed; the Bwo-hu Tung shows it approaching definition as a collection. Tsau Bau (died 102) may have been responsible for its final form (though the addition of some chapters to an otherwise fixed corpus is also attributed to Ma Rung). Some of the Li Ji documents (eg Jung Yung, Wu Yi, Ywe Ling) had circulated separately in late Warring States times; others have intellectual affinities with early Hàn. In all cases, the Li Ji versions can be shown to be later rewrites. Parts of LJ are in effect commentaries on the older ritual text Yi Li; more precisely, on a relatively unexpanded version of Yi Li; the Li Ji in general sides with the Yi Li at points where the Yi Li and the Jou Gwan conflict. Nothing in LJ can be accepted without special argument as anything but a Hàn document, and probably a prescriptive document at that. Li Ji anecdotes about Confucius and his circle would merit comparison with other sources such as KZJY. [Top]

Lye-Nw Jwan Syw: c112. The continuation of Lyou Syang's Lye Nw Jwan first took the form of inserting additional biographies into the original 7 Topical sections; these were later relocated to an 8th "Supplement" chapter. The Supplement includes an exemplary woman of the time of Emperor Hv (r 89-105), and thus has something shortly after his reign as its terminus a quo. If so, it followed Ban Jau's Admonitions (c80) and the end of her work on the Hàn Shu (111). Ban Jau is reputed to have written a commentary on the LNJ, and these extensions might comprise that commentary; the Swei Shu bibliography takes that view, as does Dzvng Gung's Preface of c1060. There are other possible candidates, however, and there would be no harm in submitting the matter to examination by modern techniques. [Top]

Han Stone Classics: A Fragment from Analects 17
Han Stone Classics: 175-183. The engraving of the then recognized classics on stone marked an important point in the evolution, and indeed the hardening, of Confucian orthodoxy. The stone classics were probably also meant as a symbol of solidity by the tottering Hàn Dynasty. The scholarly preferences among the various editions of these texts (such as the Lu edition of the Shr, and the Gungyang rather than the Gulyang commentary to the Chun/Chyou) are still visible, and the Analects has been added to the heavy "historical" classics, indicating a continued advance in the personal cult of Confucius. The inventory, in order, is: Shr, Shu, Yi, Chun/Chyou (separate from the commentary), the Gungyang Jwan, the Yi Li (oldest and at this time still the most widely accepted of the ritual texts), and the Analects. Fragments of these stone classics still exist, and are an important source for the text critic; one of them is shown above. Since the prototype text was written by Tsai Yung, these fragments are also an important source for the history of calligraphy.

The tidying up of the ritual canon, of the agreed exempla for feminine behavior, and of the place in history of the previous Hàn Dynasty itself, all partake of a common desire to create an orderly mental universe, and one constructed wholly out of native materials.


3rd and 4th Centuries

Hàn split into the Three Kingdoms about the year 220, and was united again under the Jin Dynasty in 265. That dynasty collapsed in turn and was refounded as Eastern Jin in 317. From 420 onward is the period of North and South (not represented by examples in this Overview), when native dynasties ruled in the south, and a series of non-Chinese conquest dynasties held the north. The dominant literary trend both before and after 420 is a personal inward turning, whether of Dauist or Buddhist or mystical Confucian character, and a reliance on the self in mundane ways as well; the poems of Tau Chyen have come to be regarded as the perfect expression of these tendencies. The distinction between real and mystical was blurred, and imagination came to have equal claims with information. Widespread invention of texts resulted. In poetry, this atmosphere was a great stimulus; in intellectual matters, it was a stimulus too, but perhaps a not altogether helpful one. Nothing in this period, including the concept of "China," is exactly what it seems. Some rejoice in this fact, and others not.

The Expanded Kungdz Jya-yw: c250. The Hàn KZJY is thought by Kramers to have been fraudulently expanded by Wang Su (195-256) in order to provide support for his arguments against the ritual theories of the commentator Jvng Sywaen (127-200). At issue seems to have been a more rational spirit than the supernatural view still reflected in Jvng Sywaen. By this and/or other means, the 27-chapter KZJY attested in the Hàn Palace Catalogue reached the 44 chapters of our present text, having incorporated among other things the previously independent Didz Ji or "Disciple Register" (now KZJY 38), which had served as the source for SJ 67. Chapters immediately following KZJY 27 do have a suspiciously ritual-treatise character, and Wang Su's postface claim that the expanded KZJY had been presented to him by a member of the Kung family is also slightly too good to be true. [Top]

Lyedz: c295-c305. Already in the mid-03c, Lyedz (Lye Yw-kou) was associated with the magical end of the Dauist spectrum, and this made him an object of interest in the Six Dynasties period, when flights of fancy, some of them meant as literal flights, were the most elegant response to the dangerous times. A Lyedz in 8 chapters had been edited by Lyou Syang from several shorter works, but was later lost. It was inevitable that a Book of Lyedz would reappear in the Six Dynasties, and one was accordingly composed, either by its first commentator, Jang Jan, or by his father. To a collection of early materials mentioning Lyedz were added new matter which is the best part of the book, in psychological penetration far exceeding anything in the classical period. The Yang Ju chapter is a delightful trope on the Robber Jr chapter of Jwangdz. The composition of the Lyedz apparently spanned the persecutions of the year 300, and portions seemingly written after that event have a tone markedly different from those before. [Top]

Gu-wvn Shang-shu: c317. The Shu texts quoted by Confucians formed a corpus of their own, a situation perhaps owing something to the labors of Sywndz. These, with or without augmentation by the scholars of the Chin Academy, were transmitted to Hàn by Fu Shvng. The Shu texts which had been cited in debate by the Micians had not been preserved. Kung An-gwo in the 02c presented to the court what he claimed were a set of recently discovered "old script" Shu texts; these Han "old script" Shu texts did not survive the occasion, and are never cited in Hàn or the Three Kingdoms. At the beginning of the Jin Dynasty, a call went out for volumes to replace the lost Imperial Library, and probably in response, Mei Dzv forged a new set of "old script" (gu-wvn) Shu, and succeeded in passing them off as genuine. Tbis time they entered the canon. Their fraudulence was not definitely shown until the Ching dynasty, by several acute critics of whom Yau Ji-hvng deserves special mention as the first to write an extensive analysis. Credit for the discovery, however, is usually given to Yen Rwo-jyw (1636-1704). [Top]

Tau Chyen
Tau Chyen's Poetry: c385-427. Tau Chyen (365-427) is famous as the often intoxicated and always philosophical hermit farmer, an image which he constructed for himself in poems written between his last official employment (405) and his death (427). Some early and more conventionally literary pieces which survive in his collected works give a different impression of his original ambitions, as the orthodox Confucian critic Jung Hung was rude enough to point out. Constructed or no, his championing of simple and direct experience and integrity of personality, in poems of startling simplicity rather than allusive density, gives him an honored place in the freedom tradition which goes back in principle to the Jwangdz; a tradition which finds Chinese civilization itself too burdensome for permanent human habitation - a tradition whose survival in later ages has gone far to make Chinese civilization in fact habitable. [Top]
It will be noticed that every post-Hàn text so far considered is to some degree phony. That is merely part of the inventive, or if one likes, the creative, character of the period. Which (we wish to conclude by saying) also has its special personal delights.

This Overview is Copyright © 2007- by E Bruce and A Taeko Brooks

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