An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zouzi zhongshi 鄒子終始

Feb 10, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald

Zouzi zhongshi 鄒子終始 "End and beginning of Master Zhou“ was a writing of the Yin-Yang school written during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). The imperial bibliography Yiwen zhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 says it had a length of 56 chapters. The Tang-period 唐 (618-907) scholar Yan Shigu 顏師古 (581-645) remarked that the author was a disciple of the famous thinker Zou Yan 鄒衍 (c. 305-240 BCE). The biographical chapter on Meng Ke 孟軻 (Mengzi 孟子, 385-304 or 372-289 BCE) and Xun Kuang 荀況 (Xunzi 荀子, 313-238 BCE) in the history Shiji 史記 remarks that Zou Yan wrote the books Shizhong 終始 "End and beginning" and Dasheng 大聖 "The Great Holy", with a length of more than 10,000 words.

The book is lost, but a few hints on the thoughts in the book survive in that biography, and in the book Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋. The Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) collector and publisher Ma Guohan 馬國翰 (1794-1857) published these thoughts as "fragments" in his series Yuhanshanfang jiyi shu 玉函山房輯佚書. Wang Renjun 王仁俊 (1866-1913) also published a collection, Yuhanshanfang jixu shu xubian 玉函山房輯佚書續編, with a fragment that he calls part of the book Zouzi shu 鄒子書.

From these fragments it can be seen that Zou Yan explained the theory of the cycle of the Five Virtues (wude 五德, i.e. the Five Agents), and their relation to the "great nine province" (da jiu zhou 大九州).

Gao Liushui 高流水 (1996). "Zouzi zhongshi 鄒子終始", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升, ed. Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), 431.