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Chinese Literature
Wujing zongyao 武經總要 "Compendium of Important Matters from the Military Classics"


The Wujing zongyao 武經總要 "Compendium of important matters from the military classics" is an important book on the military system and military administration from the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126). It was written by Zeng Gongliang 曾公亮 and Ding Du 丁度 and submitted to the throne in 1045. It consists of 40 juan "scrolls" arranged in two collections (qianji 前集 and houji 後集). The title of the book is not quite exact because the Wujing zongyao does not only quote from the ancient classics but provides a vast amount of information on the contemporary military system.
In the first collection (qianji) the military system (zhidu 制度) from ancient times to the Song is explained in 15 juan, describing in detail the art of war, battle tactics, training methods, battle formations, the use of infantry and cavalry units, defense and siege, warfare with fire and water, reconnaissance and espionage, the garrison system, as well as weapons of each kind. In the following 5 juan the ancient and contemporary systems of border defense (bianfang 邊防) are described, with many informations on the garrison system in China, as well as the military situation in the neighbouring empires of Liao 遼 (907-1125) and Western Xia 西夏 (1038-1227).
In the second collection (houji) the military system of ancient times (gushi 故事) is described in an encyclopedic style, using ancient sources, in 15 juan. In the last 5 juan the relationship between climate, weather, the cosm, astrology and warfare is described (zhanhou 占候), which is very interesting for the history of thought. The part mostly studied is that about firearms, in which a whole series of weapons are described used at that time. It is very important for military history.
The Wujing zongyao is a very important source for the change from a society, in which the military had a very high position, to a state in which the civilian part and the central government prevailed over local military commanders. Because of this change the position of the general lost a lot of independence. He became a more execution tool of the emperor's commands. Autonomous decision of a general on the battlefield was more difficult than before.
The concepts of the ancient military classics are nevertheless still adhered to. Exercise, command and obeyance are imporant necessities without which no army can win. The officers, on the other side, have to be intelligent and capable.
Of a print from the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) only the first part is preserved. The collecteaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 contains the first and the second part.


Sources:
Wang Cengyu 王曾瑜 (1992). "Wujing zongyao 武經總要", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 3, p. 1257. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Wang Xianchen 王顯臣, Yang Jian 楊健 (1989). "Wujing zongyao 武經總要", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Junshi 軍事, vol. 2, p. 1079. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.


Chinese literature according to the four-category system

July 18, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail