Qimin yaoshu 齐民要术 “Important Methods to Condition the People’s [Living]”

The Qimin yaoshu 齐民要术 “Important methods to condition the people’s [living]” is one of the oldest agronomical treatise of China. It was written by Jia Sixie 贾思勰, a scholar of the short Eastern Wei period 东魏 (534-550). He came from Yidu 益都, modern Shandong, and was governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Gaoyang 高阳. He had the opportunity to observe the farming activities in the regions of Jingxing 井陉, Huguan 壸关 and Shangdang 上党 (all in modern Shanxi and Shaanxi) and was himself a breeder of sheep.

The Qimin yaoshu comprises 92 chapters in 10 juan “scrolls”. About the author virtually nothing is known but in his foreword he at least explains that he collected quotations from all types of books, especially from older agronomical treatises like theFan Shengzhi shu 泛生之书 and the Simin yueling 四民月令 as well as interviews of experts on agronomy. Jia Sixie does not only describe how to plant and rise different kinds of crops or how to breed cattle, but also describes the preparation and storage of some materials based on agronomical products, like wine, glue, oil, fibres, dyestuffs, ink, or cooking products processes (pickling) and products like yeast, sugar and soy sauce (juan 7 to 9). Besides staple food (juan 1-2) he explains the cultivation of vegetables (juan 3), fruits and mulberry trees (juan 4), the latter’s leaves being used as fodder for silkworms. Juan 6 describes cattle breeding and fish-farming. In juan 10 he also describes plants not common in central China, and his book is thus a very important source for agriculture in early China. Jia Sixie quotes from more than 150 ancient books and so preserved many fragments of texts that are otherwise lost (Fan Shengzhi shu, Simin yueling or Tao Zhugong’s 陶朱公 Yangyujing 养鱼经), and also many country sayings (geyao 歌谣). The “Miscellaneous Chapter” (Zashuo 杂说) and the chapter Huozhi 货殖 “Trade” has been added later.


The Qimin yaoshu is the oldest completely surviving agricultural text of China. Jia Sixie stresses the importance of agriculture for the welfare of society and the whole state, and supports his argument by quotations from ancient masters like Ren Yan 任延, Wang Jing 王景, Huangfu Long 皇甫隆, Ci Chong 茨充, Cui Shi 崔寔, Huang Ba 黄霸, Gong Sui 龚遂 and Shao Xinchen 召信臣. Further proofs of this assumption come from the chapter Hongfan 洪范 of the Shangshu 尚书 “Book of Documents” and other Confucian Classics where the kings of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) are admonished to “appease, enrich and instruct the people”. Compared with older agronomical texts like the Fan Shenzhi shu from the Han period 汉 (206 BCE-220 CE) the scope of agricultural fields is widely enlarged in the Qimin yaoshu. It includes not only the cultivation of plants, but also cattle breeding, forestry and the processing of products. A successful farmer, Jia Sixie says, would not only mechanically do his work, but would critically observe the seasons, weather, and the quality of the soil, in order to adapt his work to these factors. Such a method would save labour and increase yields (yong li shao er cheng gong duo 用力少而成功多). For the amelioration of the soil, better ploughing methods had been developed, in combination with the selection of better seeds. Jia Sixie therefore describes 86 of various seeds in his book. For the windy and dry spring season of northern China he recommended deep-ploughing for the first cultivation of a field, but a shallow reverting of the soil in autumn, and vice versa. Between phases of cultivation it was profitable for the preservation of moisture to level the ground and to weed out undesired grasses. Crop rotation, he says, also help to keep the fertility of the soil. Green beans (lüdou 緑豆) planted first would enrich fertility, and had to be followed by small beans (xiaodou 小豆) or sesame (huma 胡麻). Besides methods of sowing the author also describes different methods of plant propagation like striking (qiancha 扦插), stolons (yatiao 压条), division (fenzhu 分株) or propping (jiajie 嫁接). The author seems to not have highly estimated a kind of marketization of agricultural products, as advocated by the late Han period scholar Cui Shi (Simin yueling), but he rather preferred a kind of self-subsisting farming for a single—although large—household.

There are two 20th century commentaries to the Qimin yaoshu, namely Shi Shenghan’s 石声汉 Qimin yaoshu jinshi 齐民要术今释 and Miao Qiyu’s 缪启愉 Qimin yaoshu jiaoshi 齐民要术校释.

Nüerjing 女儿经 “The Classic of Girls”

The Nüerjing 女儿经 “Classic of girls” is a textbook for primary teaching for girls written by an unknown author during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) . The most important editions of this book were made during the Wanli reign 万厉 (1573-1619), an edition with a commentary by Zhao Nanxing 赵南星 from the Tianqi reign 天启 (1621-1627), the so-called Qiushi Nüerjing 裘氏女儿经 printed by Master Gao 高氏 around the year 1622, a revised edition by He Ruilin 贺瑞麟, the Gailiang Nüerjing 改良女儿经 from the Tongzhi reign 同治 (1862-1874), and a print by the Tunxijuwen Studio 屯溪聚文堂 from the Guangxu reign 光绪 (1875-1908). The book is written in phrases that are all consisting of three characters. The book is 864 characters long, or 288 sentenctes. It explains that a girl has to obey father and mother, to work hard and to live a proper life, to speak with a low voice and to wear decent clothes. After marriages her obedience has to be given towards her parents-in-law and her husband. She has to care for their household, to establish good relationship with the neighbourhood, and to raise up her children. TheNüerjing also brings forward a lot of good examples from the past which each women should try to follow. It was very widespread because it is easy to read.

Qianjiashi 千家诗 “Poems of One Thousand Writers”

The Qianjiashi 千家诗 “Poems of one thousand writers” is an anthology of poems from the Tang 唐 (618-907), Five Dynasties五代 (907-960) and Song 宋 (960-1279) periods. The complete title of the collection is Fenmen leizuan Tang-Songshi xian qianjia shixuan 分门纂类唐宋时贤千家诗选 “Selected poems of one thousand excellent authors from the Tang and Song periods, arranged in various categories”. It was compiled by the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Liu Kezhuang 刘克庄. Following his scholarly style name, Houcun 后村, the anthology is also called Houcun Qianjiashi 后村千家诗. It is 22 juan “scrolls” long and is divided into 14 chapters.

The Qianjiashi has been revised and newly arranged by Wang Xiang 王相 as Xinjuan wuyan qianjia shi 新镌五言千家诗, only including 84 poems with five-syllable verses (wuyan shi 五言诗) written by 50 authors. Another extraction has been made by Xie Fangde 谢枋得 who only selected poems with seven-syllable verses (qiyan shi 七言诗). His book is called Chongding qianjiashi 重订千家诗 or Qiyan qianjiashi 七言千家诗 and was commented by Wang Xiang. It includes 140 poems of more than 80 writers (inlcuding two poems of Ming period 明 [1368-1644] persons). Both books are 2 juan long, the first including short poems (jueju 绝句), the latter regular poems (lüshi 律诗).

Another version of the Qianjiashi also attributed to Xie Fangde, and the most common one, is 4 juan long, each juancorresponding to one chapter. The poems in this version are arranged in the categories five-syllable short poems (wuyan jueju 五言绝句), five-syllable regular poems (wuyan lüshi 五言律诗), seven-syllable short poems (qiyan jueju 七言绝句) and seven-syllable regular poems (qiyan lüshi 七言律诗). The greatest part of the poems has been written by Song period authors. The Qianjiashi has always been used as a textbook for elementary learning. In 1706 the Xie extract was printed by Cao Yin 曹寅, the first part including 85 short poems, the second part 38 regular poems.


Together with the textbooks Sanzijing 三字经 “Three-characters classic” and Baijiaxing 百家姓 “Hundred family names”, theQianjiashi was called the San-Bai-Qian 三百千 “Three-and-hundred-and-thousand”.

There is a supplement to the common Qianjiashi versions called Xiaoxue Qianjiashi 小学千家诗. It was compiled by a scholar called Qiyun shanren 寄云山人 “Mountain-dweller dispatching the clouds” or Liangqihaizhai xueren 梁溪海斋学人 “Scholar from the Hermitage of the bridges, creeks and the sea”. A great part of the poems have been written by the compiler himself. The poems have a very simple nature and are apparently specially designed for elementary learning.


Contents of the original Qianjiashi

时令 Shiling The seasons
节候 Jiehou Time
气候 Qihou Weather
昼夜 Zhouye Day and night
百花 Baihua Flowers
竹林 Zhulin Bushes and trees
天文 Tianwen Astonomy
地理 Dili Geography
宫室 Gongshi Palaces and buildings
器用 Qiyong Tools and objects
音乐 Yinyue Music
禽兽 Qinshou Birds and beasts
昆虫 Kunchong Creeping animals
人品 Renpin Human affairs

Qianziwen 千字文 “The Thousand-Characters Text”

The Qianziwen 千字文 “Thousand-characters text” is a character text book for elementary learning. There are two books with that title, namely one from theLiang period 梁 (502-557) writer Prince Xiao Zifan 萧子范, which is already lost, and one by Zhou Xingsi 周兴嗣 from the same period. The book was compiled on imperial order by using one thousand characters of the oeuvres of the famous calligrapher Wang Xizhi 王羲之 from the Eastern Jin period 东晋 (317-420). Zhou selected one thousand different, often-used characters and composed them to a long poem, of which each verse is 4 words or characters long. Each two verses rhyme, so that they are easily to remember. The words cover all aspects of nature and human life, and thus also serve to learn the most important characters of all fields, like the universe, history, self-cultivation, learning, eating and drinking, living, gardens, sacrifices, and much more.

The characters of the Qianziwen serve for numbering a large amount of chapters, books or other data. Each character represents a number, like 天=1, 地=2, 玄=3, 黄=4, 宇=5, 宙=6, 洪=7, 荒=8,… 焉=997, 哉=998, 乎=999, 也=1000. One example for this method is the numbering of the juan “scrolls” in some editions of the Daoist Canon Daozang 道藏.

The Qianziwen was so popular that it was translated into Manchurian during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911).


There were several supplements or alternatives written, like Shi Qiwei’s 侍其玮 Xu qianwen 续千文 and Ge Gangzheng’s 葛刚正 Chongxu qianwen 重续千文 and Ge Gangzheng’s 葛刚正 Sanxu qianwen 三续千文 from the Song period 宋 (960-1279), Zhou Lüjing’s 周履靖 Guangyi qianwen 广易千文 and Li Deng’s 李登 Zhengzi qianwen 正字千文 from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), and He Guizhen’s 何桂珍 Xunmeng qianziwen 训蒙千字文 from the Qing period. The Xu qianwen is included in the collectanea Yunzizaikan congshu 云自在龛丛书 and Yiyuan bilu chuke 艺园秘录录初刻.

Some small texts imitating the pattern of the Qianziwen are: Xu gu qianwen 叙古千文 by the Song period scholar Hu Yin 胡寅, with a commentary by Huang Hao 黄灏; Jiejing zazi 快捷方式杂字; Baoju zazi 包举杂字; and Nongcun zazi 农村杂字.

Qieyun 切韵 “Cut Rhymes”

The Qieyun 切韵 “Cut rhymes” is the oldest surviving dictionary arranging characters according to pronunciation. It was written by Lu Fayan 陆法言 during theSui period 隋 (581-618).

The pronunciation of the characters is indicated by the so-called fanqie system 反切 (“reverse cuts”). It came up during the period of the Southern and Northern dynasties 南北朝 (300~600) when the changing shapes of characters (from seal script to chancery script), changing pronuncation and the treatment of foreign texts in shape of Buddhist writings made it necessary to render the standard pronunciation in written form. Two older books using the principle of rhymes, Li Deng’s 李登 Shenglei 声类 and Lü Jing’s 吕静 Yunji 韵集, from the Three Kingdoms 三国 (220-280) resp. the Jin period 晋 (265-420), are lost.

The Qieyun was finished in 601. The original is lost. Only a manuscript fragment is preserved that was unearthed in Dunhuang 敦煌, and fragments quoted in other books. In the last decades a lot of manuscript fragments from the Tang period 唐 (618-907) came to light which make it possible to understand the general structure of the book. The Qieyun consisted of 8 juan “scrolls” and included 11,500 characters, arranged in 193 rhyme groups (yun 韵). 53 rhyme groups are level tone rhymes (pingsheng 平声), 51 falling-rising tone rhymes (shangsheng 上声), 56 falling tone rhymes (qusheng 去声), and 32 entering tone rhymes (rusheng 入声). The first three categories are arranged in a fixed sequence. Below the rhyme group level, the characters are arranged in groups of homophones. Below first character of such a homophones paragraph the pronunciation is indicated by the fanqie system, and the number of homophones. The meaning of the characters is explained with very few words, and many common characters do not have such an explanation at all – the Qieyun thus served often only to render the correct pronunciaton of a character. For a lot of characters an alternative pronunciation is indicated (you yin X 又音X “also pronounced X”). Later revisions have enlarged the dictionary by missing characters and standardized the entries by the addition of missing definition, etc. These are the so-called cengdingben 曾订本. Sometimes even the pronunciation notes are modernized by using other characters for the fanqie system. Some rhyme groups have been split up in two groups. The greatest change in this respect was made by the Tang period scholar Wang Renxu 王仁昫 in his Kanmiu buque Qieyun 刊谬补缺切韵. There are two revised editions of the Qieyun of good quality, one is Wang Renxu’s edition, stored in the Imperial Palace Museum 故宫博物院, the other is Chen Pengnian’s 陈彭年 Da-Song chongxiu Guangyun 大宋重修广韵 from the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126).

There was another book called Qieyun, compiled by the Tang period scholar Li Zhou 李舟. The book is lost but it is known that its arrangement of the rhyme groups influenced later rhyme dictionaries.

Exemplarious translation of Records of the Grand Scribe

<史记本纪>12.<孝武本纪第十二>mperial Biographies: No. 12, Biography of the Filial Emperor Xiao-Wudi the Martial (r. 140-87 BC)

上遂东巡海上,行礼祠八神。四月,还至奉高。上念诸儒及方士言封禅人人殊,不经,难施行。天子至梁父,礼祠地主。乙卯,令侍中儒者皮 弁荐绅,射牛行事。封泰山下东方,如郊祠泰一之礼。封广丈二 尺,高九尺,其下则有玉牒书,书秘。礼毕,天子独与侍中奉车 子侯上泰山,亦有封.其事皆禁。明日,下阴道.丙辰,禅泰山下址东北肃然山,如祭后土礼。 天子皆亲拜见,衣上黄而尽用乐焉。天子从封禅还,坐明堂,群臣更上寿.
The emperor traveled, and then went eastwards, where he passed along and inspected the sea-cost. He made sacrifices and offerings to the Eight Spirits… In the fourth month, the emperor came back to Fenggao, where he thought about the words of the scholars and the magicians about the fengshan sacrifices for Heaven and Earth, that were all so confusing and misleading that is would be impossible to follow them. Thereupon the emperor went to the Liangfu summit to sacrifice the Lord of the Land, or Dizhu. On the day yimao, he ordered the official secretaries to wear their leather caps and the pinned official clothes and to perform the ritual shooting of oxen. In the east of Mount Tai, he had an altar erected for the Heavenly sacrifice that had to be performed like the sacrifice to the Great Unity in the suburbs. The altar was two zhang wide and nine zhang high, at the base of the altar a precious book-case was lying, but nobody knew what its content was. When the sacrifice was finished, the Son of Heaven alone with only a few secretaries and riding the carriage of (Huo) Zihou ascended Mount Tai to perform the feng sacrifice to Heaven once more. The performance of the sacrifice was thoroughly secret. On the next day he descended on the northern slope of the mountain. On the day bingchen, the emperor performed the chan sacrifice to the Earth at the north eastern corner of Mount Suran, like the sacrifice for the Mother Earth, or Houtu, is performed. All was performed by the emperor himself. We wore yellow clothes, and all ceremonies were accompanied by music… When the Son of Heaven came back from the fengshan sacrifices, he seated himself in the Clear Hall, where all ministers and officials wished him a long life.
In the summer, the Han dynasty corrected the calendar and took the first month as the beginning of the year. The color of the dynasty was changed up to yellow, the official titles and the official seals were altered with the Five as leading number. The year was thus called the first year of the rule tilte “Great Commencing”. During this year, the Han empire attacked Ferghana (Dayuan). A huge flock of locusts arose. Lady Ding and a wife from Luoyang called Yu Chu used sorcery as a means of casting spells against the Xiongnu and the realm of Ferghana.


<汉书帝纪>6.<孝武帝纪第六>Hanshu, Imperial Biographies: No. 6, Biography of Emperor Wudi

The emperor traveled, and then went eastwards, where he passed along and inspected the sea-cost. In the summer, the fourth month, on the day guimao, the emperor returned, and ascended and performed the sacrifice feng upon Mount Tai. The emperor descended the mountain and seated himself in the Clear Hall.
五月,正历以正月为岁首,色上黄,数用五。定官名,协音律。遣因杅将军 公孙敖筑塞外受降城。秋八月行幸安定,遣贰师将军李广利发天下?民西征大宛。蝗从东方飞至敦煌。
In the summer, the fifth month, the emperor corrected the calendar and took the first month as the beginning of the year; among the colors, he took yellow as the ruling color, and among the numbers, he used five. He fixed official titles and harmonized the sounds of the musical pipes. The emperor sent the General of Yinyu, Gongsun Ao, to buld the fortress Shouxiang outside of the barriers. In the autumn, the eight month, the emperor traveled and favored the commandery Anding. He sent the General of Sutrishna (Ershi), Li Guangli, to mobilize the reprobated common people of the empire, to go west and make an expedition against Ferghana (Dayuan). Locusts flew from the eastern quarter and reached Dunhuang commandery.

<史记书>28.<封禅书第六>Treatises: No. 6, Treatise about the sacrifice for Heaven and Earth

When the First Emperor (r. 246/221-210) was ascending Mount Tai he encountered a violent wind and rain storm halfway up the slope and had to stop for a while under large trees. The Confucian scholars, who had been dismissed and were not allowed to take part in the ritual of the feng sacrifice to Heaven, hearing of the Emperor’s encounter with the storm, promptly used it as a basis to speak ill of him.
于是始皇遂东游海上,行礼祠名山大川及八神,求僊人羡门之属。八神将自古而有之,或曰太公以来作之。 齐所以为齐,以天齐也.其祀绝莫知起时。八神:一曰天主,祠天齐。天齐渊水,居临菑南郊山下者。二曰 地主,祠泰山梁父。盖天好阴,祠之必于高山之下,小山之上,命曰「畤」;地贵阳,祭之必于泽中圜丘云。
The First Emperor then proceeded east on his journey as far as the borders of the sea, stopping along the way to perform rituals and sacrifices to the various mountains and great rivers and to the Eight Spirits, and searching for immortal spirits such as Xianmen and his companions. The Eight spirits appear to have existed from ancient times. Some people say that their worship was begun at the time of the Great Duke, the first lord of the state of Qi at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty. But since the sacrifices were later discontinued, no one knows exactly when they originated. Of the Eight spirits, the first was called the Lord of Heaven, or Tianzhu; sacrifices to him were offered at the Navel of Heaven. The Navel of Heaven, or Tianqi, is the name of a spring situated at the foot of a mountain in the southern suburbs of the city of Linzi. It is said that the state of Qi takes its name from this place. The second was called Lord of the Land, or Dizhu, and was sacrificed to at Liangfu near Mount Tai. It appears that since Heaven loves the yin, the principle of darkness, it must be worshiped at the foot of a high mountain or on top of a small hill, at a place called an “altar”; while because Earth honors the yang, the principle of light, the sacrifices to it must always be conducted on a round hill in the midst of a lowland.

<史记世家>39.<晋世家第九>Biographies of Eminent Persons: No. 9, The House of Jin

In the fifteenth year of his reign, Duke Dao the Mournful of Jin (r. 573-558 BC) asked Shi Kuang about government, who said: “Benevolence and righteousness shall be the base of your politics.” In the winter, Duke Dao died, and his son Biao followed as the later Duke Ping the Appeaser (r. 558-532). In the first year of Duke Ping’s reign, he attacked Qi. Jin met with the armies of Duke Ling the Clever (r. 582-554) to battle at Mixia. The army of Qi was defeated, soldiers started to run away. Master Yan told the Duke of Qi: “My Lord, don’t be too foolhardy, why don’t you stop battling?” The Duke stopped fighting and withdraw. The troops of Jin followed them and besieged Linzi, the capital of Qi, burned down the houses and massacred the people. In the east, the troops of Jin reached Jiao and advanced to the south until they came to Yi, but when Qi was able to defend all its cities, the troops of Jin withdraw.
<史记列传>62.<管晏列传第二>Biographies: No. 2, Biographies of Guan (Zhong) and Yan (Ying)
晏平仲婴者,莱之夷维人也。事齐灵公﹑庄公﹑景公,以节俭力行重于齐。既相齐,食不重肉,妾不衣帛。 其在朝,君语及之,即危言;语不及之,即危行。国有道,即顺命;无道,即衡命。以此三世显名于诸侯。
Yan Pingzhong, also named Ying, was of barbarian descent of the old country of Lai. He served the Dukes Ling the Clever (r. 582-555 BC), Zhuang the Dignified (r. 554-549) and Jing the Luminous (r. 548-491) of Qi. Because of his austerity and his efforts, he was greatly appreciated by the people of Qi. When he became prime minister of Qi, he did not eat meat, and his wifes did not wear silk. At the court, when the Lord asked him for his advice, he answered very carefully, but when he was not asked, he at least behaved very carefully. When the state was running on the right path, he behaved according to his position, but when the state did not run on the right way, he weighed and measured his position. Doing this, he could make the three generations of rulers he served the most famous under all the rulers of their time.
Yue Shifu was a capable man, but because of some crime, he was in prison. When Master Yan once went out and met him on the way, he loosened a horse from his carriage and ransomed him. Together, they went home, and Master Yan let him stay in his house for a very long time without giving him farewell. Finally, Yue Shifu wanted to leave his host. Master Yan was surprised, took off his robe and cap and said to him, apologizing: “Although I am not very benevolent, I helped you to get out of great trouble. Why do you want to leave me that early?” Shifu answered: “Don’t talk like this. I heard, your eminence is mistrusted by people that do not know themselves, and you are trusted by people that know themselves. When I was in prison, these people did not understand me. But you had a really feeling for me and freed me, that is knowing oneself. Knowing oneself, but acting without politeness, that is shurely not as bad as being in chains.” Thereupon, Master Yan asked him to be one of his retainers.


Shiji 史记 Records of the Grand Scribe

The Shiji 史记 “Records of the [Grand] Scribe” is a very famous universal history of early China and the first of the official dynastic histories (zhengshi 正史). It is the first history of China written in a biographic-thematic style (jizhuanti 纪传体) in which biographies of different type, treatises and tables are combined. The original name of the book was Taishigong shu 太史公书 “The book of the Master Grand Scribe” or Taishiji 太史记 “Records of the Grand Scribe”. These titles are derived from the office the two compilers occupied, namely that of the official dynastic court scribes (taishi 太史) of the Former Han dynasty 前汉 (206 BC- 8 AD), Sima Tan 司马谈 (d. ca. 110 BCE) and his son Sima Qian 司马迁 (145-86 BC). Sima Tan who had access to the imperial library and the official documents stored there planned to write a universal history but was not able to finish his work and entrusted the completion to his son.

The Shiji covers a very long time period, ranging from the mythological “Yellow Emperor” Huangdi 黄帝 (trad. r. 2697-2597 BCE), the Xia 夏 (17th-15th cent. BCE, trad. 2205-1766), Shang 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE, trad. 1766-1122), Zhou 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE, trad. 1122-221) and Qin 秦 (221-206 BC) dynasties down to the contemporary period. It ends in the year 93 BCE. The main focus is on the Warring States period 战国 (5th cent.-221 BCE) and the Qin and the Han dynasties.

According to the postface (130 Taishigong zixu 太史公自序), the autobiography of Sima Qian, the book contains 130 juan “scrolls”, of which 12 juan are imperial biographies (本纪 benji), ten juan tables (表 biao), eight juan treatises (书 shu), 30juan biographies of the feudal houses of the Zhou period as well as of eminent persons (世家 shijia), and 70 juan normal and collective biographies (列传 liezhuan).

The imperial biographies are internally arranged like annals where the most important events and edicts are recorded. For the oldest periods of time the dynasties are treated in one juan, while from the First Emperor of Qin 秦始皇 (r. 246/221-210 BCE; 6 Qin Shihuang benji 秦始皇本纪) on each person has his/her own imperial biography. Two surprises catch the reader concerning the imperial biographies. Firstly, after the downfall of the Qin dynasty there were several warlords contesting for emperorship. One of them was Liu Bang 刘邦 (Emperor Han Gaozu 汉高祖, r. 206/02-195 BCE), the eventual founder of the Han dynasty, and another was Xiang Yu 项羽, the “hegemonial king of West-Chu” (Xichu bawang 西楚霸王) who at that time was a superior of Liu Bang. Although eventually becoming the loser of the game Xiang Yu is granted an own imperial biography (7 Xiang Yu benji 项羽本纪). This circumstance shows that historiography can also be truthful, as Xiang Yu was the more or less official ruler of China between 206 and 202 BCE (he appointed the various warlords to their royal fiefs), and not Liu Bang, but it also shows that Sima Qian did probably not favour Liu Bang as a person. Another rebel against the Qin dynasty, Chen She 陈涉, is dealt with in a hereditary biography (48Chen She shijia 陈涉世家). Secondly, Emperor Huidi 汉惠帝 (r. 195-188 BCE) is not granted an own imperial biography but his reign is included into the biography of his mother (9 Lü taihou benji 吕太后本纪), the Empress Dowager Lü 吕太后 who, even after her son’s death and the subsequent reign of two infant emperors, never ruled officially but was entrusted with the affairs of government as a regent (linchao shezheng 临朝摄政).

The tables provide a lot of information about the genealogies of the feudal lords during the Warring States period, the war between Liu Bang and Xiang Yu for the empire, as well as the various princes, noblemen and highest officials of the early Han dynasty.

The treatises give an overview of the most important matters of statecraft. Most of them served as models for the later dynastic histories, but the treatise of the offerings for Heaven and Earth (28 Fengshan shu 封禅书) are unique because very few emperors undertook the travel to the summit of Mt. Tai 泰山. It occupies a very important place in the Shiji because Emperor Wu 汉武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) invested a huge state ceremony for this undertaking.

The shijia hereditary biographies are in first instances the chronicles of the feudal states of the Zhou period. Their titles normally include the founder of the feudal house, in most cases the person enfeoffed with the feudal domain at the beginning of the Zhou period. For the feudal state of Qi 齐 two biographies are presented (32Qi Taigong shijia 齐太公世家 and 46 Tian Jingzhong Wan shijia 田敬仲完世家) because the house of Tian usurped the throne of Qi. The chapters 50-52 and 58-60 are the biographies of imperial princes of the Han dynasty. Another category of persons for which hereditary biographies are written are the high ministers serving the Han dynasty in her founding period. Those were Xiao He 萧何, Cao Shen 曹参, Zhang Liang 张良, Chen Ping 陈平, and Zhou Bo 周勃 (chapters 53-57). Another hereditary biography is dedicated to the empresses and their relatives (49 Waiqi shijia 外戚世家). In this chapter Empress Dowager Lü shows up again. Another very important person whose biography is reported in a hereditary biography, isConfucius (47 Kongzi shijia 孔子世家).

The normal biographies are arranged chronologically and are either dedicated to one single person, as for instance that for the mighty minister of Qin, Sima Rangju(64 Sima Rangju liezhuan 司马穰苴列传), or as collective biographies to a group of persons who belong together, like the generals Bai Qi and Wang Jian (73 Bai Qi Wang Jian liezhuan 白起王翦列传) or Mengzi and Xunzi 荀子, both disciples of Confucius (74 Mengzi Xun Qing liezhuan 孟子荀卿列传). The titles of the chapters do not always refer to all persons included, like chapter 63 Laozi Han Fei liezhuan 老子韩非列传 which does not only deal with Laozi and Han Fei also presents the lifes ofZhuangzi 庄子 and Shen Buhai 申不害. Very typical for the Shiji are nevertheless the collective biographies of otherwise not very famous persons. Many of these have been adopted as a model by later dynastic histories, like the collective biography of benevolent officials (119 Xunli liezhuan 循吏列传), that of cruel officials (122 Kuli liezhuan 酷吏列传), or that of the “Forest of scholars” (121 Rulin liezhuan 儒林列传). Yet there are also many collective biographies uniquely to be found in the Shiji, like the assassins (86 Cike liezhuan 刺客列传), the wandering knights (124 Youxia liezhuan 游侠列传), the flatterers (125 Ningxing liezhuan 佞幸列传), the humorists (126Huaji liezhuan 滑稽列传), or the profiteers (129 Huozhi liezhuan 货殖列传). A last group of “biographies” is to be mentioned. This are the descriptions of foreign peoples and foreign countries, genres imitated by all later dynastic histories. These chapters describe the Xiongnu (110 Xiongnu liezhuan 匈奴列传), the Southern (113Nanyue liezhuan 南越列传) and Eastern Yue (114 Dongyue liezhuan 东越列传), the Yi barbarians in the southwest (116 Xinanyi liezhuan 西南夷列传), and the foreign countries of Korea (115 Chaoxian liezhuan 朝鲜列传) and Dayuan (123 Dayuan liezhuan 大宛列传).

For the compilation of the Shiji father and son Sima made use of a vast treasury of sources. For the Spring and Autumn (770-5th cent. BCE) and the Warring states periods they used sources also otherwise known, like the Chunqiu-Zuozhuan 春秋左传 “Zuo Qiuming’s commentary to the Spring and Autumn annals”, the Guoyu 国语 “Discourses of the states” and Zhanguoce 战国策 “Stratagems of the Warring States”, but also sources long since lost, like the Chu-Han chunqiu 楚汉春秋 or theShiben 世本 “Generational records” which is only transmitted in several reconstructed versions. For the contemporary events archival sources were at their disposal.

From the beginning the Shiji was occupied an eminent position in historiography and was read by dozens of generations and imitated by later historians. After the death of Sima Qian it was his relative Yan Yunzu 杨恽祖 who kept the original and helped distributing it. Nevertheless during the Later Han period there were already 10 juan missing. Zhang Yan 张晏 from the Cao-Wei empire 曹魏 (220-265) identified the missing chapters (the biographies of the emperors Jing 汉景帝 and Wu, the treatises on ritual, on music, and one on military [Bingshu 兵书, missing], a table on generals and prime ministers from the beginning of the Han period [Han xing yilai jiangxiang nianbiao 汉兴以来将相年表, missing], and the biographies of the soothsayers [127 Rizhe liezhuan 日者列传], the diviners [128 Guice liezhuan 龟策列传], the biography of Fu Kuan and Jin She [98 Fu Jin liezhuan 傅靳列传], as well as that of the Three Princes [60 Sanwang liezhuan 三王世家]) and found out that they had been supplemented by the late Former Han period historian Chu Suiliang 褚遂良 (courtesy name Shaosun 少孙) and were not originally written by Sima Qian, at least not a part of the chapters. That a part of the missing chapters has indeed been added is clear from the words “Master Chu says” which are inserted in the respective chapters.

Three important commentaries (sanjia zhu 三家注) have been written to the Shiji. These are the Shijie jijie 史记集解 by Pei Yin 裴骃 from the Liu-Song period 刘宋 (420-479), in 80 juan, the Shiji suoyin 史记索隐 by Sima Zhen 司马贞 from the Tang period唐 (618-907), in 30 juan, and the Shiji zhengyi 史记正义 by the Tang period historian Zhang Shoujie 张守节 in 30 juan. Although originally separately written they are normally inserted into the corresponding chapters of the main text. There are some newer commentaries of which the following shall be mentioned: Shiji zhiyi 史记志疑 by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Liang Yusheng 梁玉绳, and Shiji huizhu kaozheng 史记会注考证 by the Japanese scholar Takigawa Sukenobu 泷川资言, with a supplement by Mizusawa Toshitada 水泽利忠.

The oldest surviving print was made by the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Huang Shanfu 黄善夫. This excellent print served as the origin for the Bona edition 百衲 of the Shangwu yinshuguan press 商务印书馆. Other good printings are the Nanbeijian 南北监 print of the 21 dynastic histories from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), the print of the 17 dynastic histories by the Jiguge Library 汲古阁, and the print of the 24 dynastic histories from the Wuying Hall 武英殿, the imperial library of the Qing dynasty. In the 19th century the Jinling press 金陵书局 made another print, based on Zhang Wenhu’s 张文虎 composition of different editions of the Shiji, based on Qian Taiji’s 钱泰吉 revision. This edition contains many printing errors. The Zhonghua press 中华书局 published a modern edition in 1959.

神农本草经 The Holy Husbandman’s Classic on Roots and Herbs

The Shen Nong bencaojing 神农本草经 “The Holy Husbandman’s classic on roots and herbs”, shortly called Shen Nong bencao 神农本草, Bencaojing 本草经, or Benjing 本经, is an old text on medical herbs and other materia media. It is first mentioned in the catalogue Qilu 七录 by the Liang period 梁 (502-557) scholar Ruan Xiaoxu 阮孝绪. The book went lost during the Tang period 唐 (618-907), but considerable parts were reconstructed from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) on. Fragments of this text were compiled by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Sun Xingyan 孙星衍 and his nephew Sun Fengyi 孙冯翼. The real author of the book is not known, yet authorship was attributed to the mythical emperor Shen Nong 神农, who was seen as the inventor of herbal medicine. The book is rarely attributed to other persons, like Zi Yi 子仪, Yi Yin 伊尹, Zhang Zhongjing 张仲景, or Hua Tuo 华佗. The book must have been compiled during the Han period 汉 (206 BCE-220 CE), or probably already during the late Warring States period 战国 (5th cent.-221 BCE). It is the oldest, partially, surviving Chinese pharmacopoeia. The original text was often quoted in medical texts like the Zhenglei bencao 证类本草 or the Bencao gangmu 本草纲目 and in encyclopedias like the Taiping yulan 太平御览, so that a considerable part of it has survived. The oldest collection of fragments has been made by the Ming period scholar Lu Fu 卢复. Other reconstructions were undertaken by the Japanese Mori Tachiyuki 森立之, and by Gu Guanggao 顾观光.

There are different versions of the Shen Nong bencao transmitted, in which the number of recorded herbs and objects is not the same. Tao Hongjing’s 陶弘景 revision of the book, the Bencaojing jizhu 本草经集注 includes 365 objects directly derived from the Shen Nong bencao jing, but most versions in circulation include 367 objects.

The book begins with a theoretical introduction (Xulie 序例 or Xulu 序录) into the classification of material medica and the rules of application. The main part of the book included short descriptions of 365 medical objects, among which are 252 plants, 67 animal parts, and 46 anorganic matters. Each object is classified according to its efficiency, into three grades (pin 品), each of them included in one of three juan “scrolls”. 120 objects are rated as of superior quality, 120 as of mediocre effects, and 125 as of a inferior usefulness. The title bencao “roots and herbs” refers to those drugs that play the greatest role in medical treatment, although anorganic matters, as well as parts of animals are included among the materia medica, too. The superior material is called the “lord” (jun 君), used to care for life. Such drugs are non-poisonous (wu du 无毒) and can be consumed in great doses over a long period of time. They are applied to nourish vitality that corresponds to Heaven. Good material is called the “ministers” (chen 臣), and used to nourish the physical character of a person. Such drugs must be applied with care. Medicine of a mediocre efficiency is called “assistants and runners” (zuoshi 佐使), and is used to cure everyday illnesses that correspond to the influence of the earth. The “runners” include a lot of “poison” (duo du 多毒; probably “adjacent matters” diminishing the effect of the active component) and must only be applied for a short time and in small doses. All kinds of pharmaceuticals are described as to their character, their effectiveness, and for which kind of illness or disease they are to be used. The methods of preparation are also described, as well as the places of origin and the season and method of collection. The book mentions more than 170 types of illness that can be cured. These “lords”, “ministers”, “assistants” and “runners” can be applied in combination, with each drug having its own effects. The preface also explains that it is possible to combine Yin and Yang drugs, which can be called “child and mother”, “older and younger brother”, “root and stalk”, “blossom and fruit” or “bone and flesh”. Some medicine must be used alone, while others need combined application. It is also stressed that the harvesting conditions are extremely important for the quality of a drug, and that materia medica might be applied in different form, like pills, powder, or paste.

The rearrangement of the Liang period scholar Tao Hongjing resulted in the modern sequence of pharmaceuticals, geared to the physical nature. Anorganic objects and grasses and herbs are included in the second juan, and animals, fuits, vegetables and grain in the third juan of the book. The particular articles have also been polished by Tao Hongjing. They begin with a description of the character and taste of the pharmaceutical, and then describe its medical use and effectiveness. The articles end with alternative names of the individual drug.

All material medica has one of “seven affects” (qi qing 七情) towards others. Medicine has to be applied alone, together with another medicine, supportive, in avoidance of certain others, antagonizing others, “hating” others, or “killing” others. Each medicine has one of five flavours (sour, salty, sweet, bitter, or spicy). Each medicine arouses one of four “energies” (qi 气), namely heat, warmness, coolness, or coldness. The book explains the names of the medicine, character and taste, and efficiency towards certain diseases. A lot of herbs have in fact a great efficiency for the bedridden, like medicine enriching the energy (buqi 补气) like ginseng (renshen 人参) or Radix astragali (huangqi 黄芪; milk vetch root), medicine enriching the blood like the roots of Chinese angelica (danggui 当归) and glutinous rehmannia (dihuang 地黄), medicine inducing sweat like the leaves of Chinese ephedra (mahuang 麻黄) and cassia twigs (guizhi 桂枝), or to cure diarrhoe like Glauber’s salt (puxiao 朴硝) and the roots and rhizomes of rhubarb (dahuang 大黄). Quicksilver (shuiyin 水银) is able to cure scabies, and seaweed or sargassum (haizao海藻) appeases the goitre.

Excavated fragements, and quotations in the Song period 宋 (960-1279) encyclopedia Taiping yulan include information about the places where specific plants grow. These have been added in later reconstructions. The best edition of fragments is that by Sun Xingyan because he was a scholar trained in textual critique. The Bencaojing is therefore included in his own collected writings of the Wenjing Hall 问经堂. In 1955 the Commercial Press 商务印书馆 published a modern edition of his publication.

A lot of ancient scholars undertook reasearch into the statements of the Shen Nong bencao jing. Their results were to be found in books like the Wu Pu bencao 吴普本草 (also called Wushi bencao 吴氏本草) from the Wei period 曹魏 (220-265), Li Dangzhi yaolu 李当之药录 from the Jin period 晋 (265-420), Tao Hongjing’s rearrangement of the text, the Bencaojing jizhu, Chen Cangqi’s 陈藏器 Bencao shiyi 本草拾遗, both from the Liang period, but also the book Shen Nong bencaojing shu 神农本草经疏 by Miao Xiyong 缪希庸 from the Ming period, and the books Bencao songyuan 本草崇原 by Zhang Zhicong 张志聪, Shen Nong bencaojing baizhong lu 神农本草经百种录 by Xu Dachun 徐大椿, and the Benjing shuzheng 本经疏证 by Zou Shu 邹澍 from the Qing period.

There were at least 16 collections of fragments from the Bencaojing, the most important of which were Wang Jie’s 王介 Bencao zhengjing 本草正经 from the Southern Song period (today lost), Lu Fu’s Shen Nong benjing 神农本经 from the late Ming period (index from the Bencao gangmu, text from the Zhenglei bencao), Guo Mengqi’s 过孟起 Bencaojing from 1687 (preserved in fragments), Sun Xingyan’s collection Shen Nong bencao jing from 1799 (includes the fragments of the textsWushi bencao and Mingyi bielu 名医别录 “Alternative records of famous physicians”, as well as other additional material), Gu Guanguang’s text Shen Nong bencao jingfrom 1844 (also with text-critical material), Wang Hong’s 汪宏 Shen Nong bencao jingfrom 1885 (said to be based on a Song period original from the Jiayou reign 嘉佑), Wang Kaiyun’s 王闿运 Shen Nong bencao jing from 1885 (also allegedly based on a Song time original). In 1942 Liu Fu 刘复 published a text-critical version that compared the important editions of Sun and Gu. There is also a collection by Jiang Guoyi 姜国伊 from the late 19th century. The modern scholar Shang Zhijun 尚志钧 published the Shen Nong bencao jing jiaodian 神农本草经校点 in 1983 that is based on the most important collections. In 1987 Cao Yuanyu 曹元宇 published the bookBencaojing, in 1988 Wang Yunmo 王筠默 threw his version of the Shen Nong bencao jing on the market. Another modern, annotated edition, the Shen Nong bencao jing jizhu 神农本草经辑注, has been published by Ma Jixing. Mori Tachiyuki’s reconstruction is enriched by a preface and a text-critical apparatus. It counts among the best editions of the Bencaojing. The Bencaojing is to be found in the collectanea Congshu jicheng 丛书集成, Wenjingtang congshu 问经堂丛书, Sibu beiyao 四部备要, Wuling shanren yishu 武陵山人遗书, Shouzhongzhengzhai congshu 守中正斋丛书, Hanxuetang congshu 汉学堂丛书 and Zishi gouchen 子史钩沉.

Exemplarious translation of Shujing 书经 Book of Documents

6.(17.)禹贡 The Tribute of Yu

(Preface: Yu marked out the nine provinces; followed the course of the hills, and deepened the rivers; defined the imposts on the land, and the articles of tribute.) Yu divided the land. Following the course of the hills, he cut down the trees. He determined the highest hills and largest rivers (in the several regions). […]
Between the Ji and the Yellow River was the region of Yanzhou. The nine branches of the Yellow River were made to keep their proper channels. Leixia was made a marsh, in which (the waters of) the Yong and the Ju were united. The mulberry grounds were made fit for silkworms, and then (the people) came down from the heights, and occupied the grounds (below). The soil of this province was blackish and rich; the grass in it was luxuriant, and the trees grew high. Its fields were the lowest of the middle class. Its contribution of revenue was fixed at what would just be deemed the correct amount; but it was not required from it, as from the other provinces, till after it had been cultivated for thirteen years. Its articles of tribute were varnish and silk, and, in baskets, woven ornamental fabrics. They floated along the Ji and Ta, and so reached the Yellow River. […]


27.(61.)泰誓上 The Great Declaration (1)

(序: 惟十有一年.武王伐殷.一月戊午.师渡孟津.作泰誓三篇.)
(Preface: In the eleventh year of his reign, king Wu started to attack Yin (Shang). In the first month, the day wuwu, his army crossed the Mengjin Ford. Thus were made the three chapters of the “Great Declaration”.)
In the spring of the thirteenth year there was a great assembly at Mengjin. The King said, ‘Ah! ye hereditary rulers of my friendly states, and all ye my officers, managers of my affairs, hearken clearly to my declaration. ‘Heaven and earth is the parent of all creatures; and of all creatures man is the most highly endowed.The sincerely intelligent (among men) becomes the great sovereign; and the great sovereign is the parent of the people. But now, Shou, the king of Shang, does not reverence Heaven above, and inflicts calamities on the people below. Abandoned to drunkenness and reckless in lust, he has dared to exercise cruel oppression. He has extended the punishment of offenders to all their relatives. He has put men into offices on the hereditary principle. He has made it his pursuit to have palaces, towers, pavilions, embankments, ponds, and all other extravagances, to the most painful injury of you, the myriads of the people. He has burned and roasted the loyal and good. He has ripped up pregnant women. Great Heaven was moved with indignation, and charged my deceased father Wen to display its terrors; but (he died) before the work was completed…


30.(64.)牧誓 The Speech at Mu

(序: 武王戎车三百两.虎贲三百人.与受战于牧野.作牧誓.)
时甲子昧爽,王朝至于商郊牧野,乃誓。王左杖黄戉 ,右秉白旄以麾,曰:「逖矣西土之人。」王曰:「差! 我友邦冢君,御事、司徒、司马、司空、亚、旅、师氏、千夫长、百夫长及庸、蜀、羌、 髳、微、卢、彭、濮人。称尔戈,比尔干,立尔矛,予其誓。」 王曰:「古人有言曰:『牝鸡无晨。牝鸡之晨,惟家之索。』今商王受,惟妇言是 用。昏弃厥肆祀,弗答;昏弃厥遗王父母弟,不迪。乃惟四方之多罪逋逃,是崇是长, 是信是使,是以为大夫卿士;俾暴虐于百姓,以奸宄于商邑。今予发,惟恭行天之罚。 今日之事,不愆于六步、七步,乃止齐焉。夫子勖哉!不愆于四伐、五伐、六伐、七伐, 乃止齐焉。勖哉夫子!尚桓桓,如虎、如貔、如熊、如罴,于商郊;弗迓克奔,以役西土。 勖哉夫子!尔所弗勖,其于尔躬有戮!」
(Preface: King Wu the Martial, with three hundred chariots of war and three hundred (three thousand) tiger-like warriors, fought with Shou (Zhou, the king of Shang) in the wilderness of Muye. Thus was made the “Speech at Mu”.)
The time was the gray dawn of the day jiazi. On that morning the king came to the open country of Mu in the borders of Shang, and addressed his army. In his left hand he carried a battle-axe, yellow with gold, and in his right he held a white ensign, which he brandished, saying, “Far are you come, you men of the western regions!” He added, “Ah! You hereditary rulers and ministers of my friendly states; you, the ministers of instruction, of war, and of public works; the first and second officers and secretaries; and you, o men of Yong, Shu, Qiang, Mao, Wei, Lu, Peng and Bo; lift up your lances, join your shields, raise your spears, I have a speech to make.”
The king said, “The ancients have said, ‘The hen does not announce the morning. The crowing of a hen in the morning indicates the subversion of the family.’ Now Shou, the king of Shang, follows only the words of his wife. He has blindly thrown away the sacrifices, and makes no response (for the favours which he has received); he has blindly thrown away his paternal and maternal relatives, not treating them (properly). They are only the vagabonds of the empire, loaded with crimes, whom he honours and exalts, whom he employs and trusts, making them great officers and nobles, so that they can tyrannize over the people, exercising their villainies in the city of Shang. Now I, Fa (king Wu’s personal name), am simply executing respectfully the punishment appointed by heaven. In today’s business do not advance more than six or seven steps; and then stop and adjust your ranks: my brave men, be energetic! Do not exceed four blows, five blows, six blows, or seven blows; and then stop and adjust your ranks: my brave men, be energetic! Display a martial bearing. Be like tigers and panthers, like bears, and grisly bears; here in the border of Shang. Do not rush on those who fly to us in submission, but receive them to serve our western land: my brave men, be energetic! Which of your are not thus energetic, you will bring destruction on yourselves.”

Shangshu 尚书 Documents of the Elder

The Shangshu 尚书 “Documents of the elder” , also called Shujing 书经 “Book of documents”, is one of the five ancient Confucian classics (wujing 五经). It is a collection of speeches made by rulers and important politicians from mythical times to the mid of the Western Zhou period 西周 (11th cent – 770 BC). The Shangshuconsists of five parts. The first and shortest is the Tangshu 唐书 “Book of Tang” (i. e. the mythical Emperor Yao 尧); the second is the Yushu 虞书 “Book of Yu” (i. e. mythical Emperor Shun 舜); the third is the Xiashu 夏书 “Book of the Xia dynasty” 夏 (17th to 15th cent. BC), followed by the Shangshu 商书 “Book of the Shang dynasty” 商 (17th to 11th cent. BC), and finally the Zhoushu 周书 “Book of the Zhou dynasty” 周 (11th. cent.-221 BC).

From the language it can be seen that at least a part of the documents allegedly derived from the Shang period was written or at least revised during the early Zhou period, supposedly by historians at the court of the state of Song 宋, whose rulers were descendants of the Shang dynasty. Of the parts covering even more remote times, it might be that a part (especially the chapter Ganshi 甘誓 “The speech at Gan”) originated in the Shang period, but most of it, like the Shundian 舜典 “The canon of Shun”, the Gaoyao mo 皋陶谟 “The counsels of Gaoyao”, or the famous chapter Yugong 禹贡 “The tribute of Yu”, was written down in the early Eastern Zhou period.

The literary style of speech was very common during the Shang and early Zhou period. This can still be seen in the many bronze vessel inscriptions, a great part of which contain instructions by the king. Other, similar books are mentioned in the sources (books like the Sanfen 三坟, Wudian 五典, Basuo 八索, or Jiuqiu 九丘), but are long lost. There are six different types of speeches in the Shangshu: dian 典 “canons”, mo 谟 “counsels”, shi 誓 “speeches”, gao 诰 “announcements”, xun 训 “instructions”, and ming 命 “charges”. Yet not all chapters can be attributed to such a type of speech. Some titles are names of persons, some titles refer to the events described in the chapter. The latter are actually no speeches but a recording of events. Especially noteworthy is the chapter Yugong which is a description of how the mythical emperor Yu the Great tamed the floods and divided China into provinces, giving each province a quality lable for its soils, tributes and local products. This chapter must have been added later, at a point of time then China has obtained her traditional geographic extent, presumably the late Warring States战国 (5th cent.-221 BC) or even the Han period 汉 (206 BC-8 AD).

It is not possible to determine the exact size of a book called Shangshu prior to the Han period. Some authors speak of 20 chapters (pian), others of fourty. At least 30 of those chapters have been lost at an early point of time. Of the 28 chapters transmitted through the Han period 14 are not mentioned in earlier times. During the Han period it became common to arrange the chapters regularly under the title of a dynasty, except the title of the Yushu, which seems to be only created during the Han dynasty. The title “Shangshu” likewise appears during Han times; before, it was simply called Shu 书 “The Documents”. The Shangshu was soon incorporated into the canon of the Five Confucian classics. Because Confucius as well as Mengzi孟子 venerated the saint kings of the past their speeches as recorded in theShangshu were an integral part of Confucian tradition.

It is told that during the Qin period 秦 (221-206 BC) when the First Emperor of Qin秦始皇 (r. 246/221-210 BCE) had burnt all “useless” books, including the Confucian writings, Master Fu Sheng 伏胜 mured the Shangshu into the walls of his house in order to hide it. Only a few decades later it was taken out of its hiding place, but only 28 chapters were preserved. This version was copied and distributed in the academies of the Confucian scribes in the regions of Qi 齐 and Lu 鲁, the ancient home of Confucius. There were thus three different versions of the Shangshucommon during the Han period, namely that of Ouyang Gao 欧阳高 (the tradition of Ouyang 欧阳氏学), Xiahou Sheng 夏侯胜 (the tradition of Xiahou Senior 大夏侯氏学), and that of Xiahou Jian 夏侯建 (the tradition of Xiahou Junior 小夏侯氏学). All of them were based on the book preserved by Fu Sheng, plus the chapter Taishi 泰誓 preserved by somebody else. The only greater difference seemed to be that the Ouyang tradition divided the chapter Pangeng 盘庚 into three parts. This is the so-called 100-chapter version (baipian Shangshu 百篇尚书), each chapter headed by a short introduction allegedly written by Confucius.
The book preserved by Fu Sheng was written in the chancery script (lishu 隶书) which became common during the late Zhou period and, with the unification of China by Qin, in the whole empire. It was therefore called the “modern script” or “new text” Shangshu (jinwen Shangshu 今文尚书, see new text classics). The Ouyang version served as the base for the stone inscriptions of the Confucian classics prepared during the Xiping reign 熹平 (172-177, the so-called Xiping stone classics Xiping shijing 熹平石经). In the course of time there were several fragments of the Shangshu discovered throughout the country which likewise had been hidden somewhere to survive the literary inquisition by the First Emperor. These versions appeared to be older and were written in an antique seal script style, and therefore called the “old script” or “old text” Shangshus (guwen Shangshu 古文尚书, see old text classics). These were the version detected in the walls of the Kong familiy’s manour in old Lu (the specimen was saved on the orders of Prince Gong of Lu 鲁恭王 and revised by Kong Anguo 孔安国, a descendant of Confucius), the version found by Prince Xian of Hexian 河间献王, the Zhongmi version 中秘, Zhang Ba’s 张霸 version in 200 chapters, and Du Linqi’s version 杜林漆. The version from Confucius’ hometown had 16 chapters more than Fu Sheng’s modern script version. The clash between these versions led to the long-lasting strife between the adherents of the old text and the new text schools. The most widespread new textShangshu was Du Linqi’s version which contained the same number of chapters like the new text versions. It was commented by the Han period scholars Wei Hong 卫宏, Jia Kui 贾逵, Ma Rong 马融, Zheng Xuan 郑玄 and Wang Su 王肃. Ma Rong and Zheng Xuan divided the chapters Pangeng and Taishi, and extracted the chapterKangwang zhi gao 康王之诰 from the chapter Guming 顾命, which made a total sum of 34 chapters. This version was the base for the classic incised into stone slabs during the Cao-Wei period 曹魏 (220-265; the so-called santi shijing 三体石经 “stone Classics in three character types”).

The many different versions of the Shangshu – and of other Confucian classics – were lost during the disturbances of the Jin period 晋 (265-420). In the early 4th century a certain Mei Ze 梅赜 submitted a Shangshu written in chancery script on the base of ancient seal script characters (hence called liguding 隶古定 version, “fixed in chancery and ancient script”), together with a commentary (zhu 注) by Kong Anguo. It was thus an old text version, but with a length of 13 juan “scrolls” containing 33 chapters. It was, nevertheless, possible to reconstruct a part of the missing chapters from surviving fragments and the commentaries of Liu Xiang 刘向 and Zheng Xuan. This reconstructed version with 58 chapters is that which is transmitted until today, although it contains both new text and old text fragments side by side.

During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) Kong Yingda 孔颖达 wrote his famous commentary Shangshu zhengyi 尚书正义. It was, during the Song period 宋 (960-1279) printed together with the old commentary by Kong Anguo as Shangshu zhushu 尚书注疏, zhu being the Kong Anguo commentary, shu the Kong Yingda sub-commentary. A third time the Shangshu was incised in stone slabs was during the Tang period (Tang shijing 唐石经, the Tang Stone Classics), based on the modernkaishu 楷书 writing style version created by Wei Bao 卫包.

Cai Shen 蔡沈, a disciple of the great Neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi 朱熹, assembled all Song period commentaries on the Shangshu and published them as Shujizhuan书集传, in 6 juan. The Shangshu, or Shujing, as it was called from then on, had to be studied by all those wishing to pass the state examinations. During the Ming period明 (1368-1644), therefore, it was part of the book Wujing daquan 五经大全 “All about the Five Classics”, which served as a kind of textbook for candidates of the state examinations.

The origin of Mei Ze’s book was questioned at a very early point of time, and many scholars asked whether it was not a forgery. Wu Yu 吴棫 (Song), Wu Cheng 吴澄 (Yuan), Mei Zhuo 梅鷟 (Ming), Yan Ruoqu 阎若璩 and Hui Dong 惠栋 (both Qing period) called Mei Ze’s 25-chapter Shangshu a phantastic concoction. Nevertheless nobody thought about eliminating doubtful parts or giving up the study of theShangshu at all. Scholars continued being attracted by its contents and studies all aspects of the Shangshu. Those were Wang Mingsheng 王鸣盛 (Shangshu hou’an 尚书后案), Sun Xingyan 孙星衍 (Shangshu jinguwen zhushu 尚书今古文注疏), Wang Xianqian 王先谦 (Shangshu Kong zhuan canzheng 尚书孔传参证), as well as the Republican scholars Wu Kaisheng 吴闿生 (Shangshu dayi 尚书大义) and Yang Yun 杨筠 (Shangshu hegu 尚书核诂). For modern scholars the Shangshu is of special interest as a source with a lot of material comparable with the Shangshu dazhuan 尚书大传, a parallel tradition of speeches from that period of time, as well as the many bronze vessel inscriptions only discovered in the 20th century.