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Chinese Literature
Zhenji 陣紀 "On Battle Arrays"


The Zhenji 陣紀 "On battle arrays" is a military treatise written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar He Liangchen 何良臣. It is 4 juan "scrolls" long and includes 66 chapters.
Although the title only speaks of battle arrays, the Zhenji also covers a lot of themes related to military formations and the preparation for war. Recruitment, assembling the units, exercise, reward and punishment, formations on the battlefield, orders and commands are dealt with, as well as with the aspects of how to wage battle with cavalry, infantry, with chariots, in different territories and at night and in bad weather. 23 topics are dealt with which give a good overview of the traditional armies and their fighting techniques. Concretely analyzed, it can also be seen what the weaknesses of the Ming period armies were, and why they failed against rebel armies and the Manchus.

The troops obtained a training for the five senses (eyes, ears, feet, hands, and heart) which then mutually supported each other. In the army it was also possible that different units could take over such tasks for the whole corps, like skilled units (jidui 技隊), brave units (danqi dui 膽氣隊), or units displaying defiance of death (gansi dui 敢死隊). During battle is is important that the troops use advantageous moments, in which the own strengths can be exhibited, before advancing with great flexibility and without offering the enemy a chance to attack. It is always important to move first and to attack the enemy before he has made his lines impenetrable. The enemy has to be blocked from retreat, a strong enemy has to be divided, a disturbed enemy had to be unsettled, a weak enemy must attacked directly, a hesitating enemy has to be coerced, a stable enemy has to be deprived of his foothalt, and a dispersed enemy must be assailed. When retreating the enemy must be left unclear about one's position, when advancing the enemy must not known where one will attack.
The Zhenji also provides information about the use of weapons, the arrangement of battle arrays and the movement of troops on the battleground and in different territories.
There was a printed version made during the late Ming period. The Zhenji is included in the collectanea Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Zhucong bielu 珠叢別錄, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Congshu jicheng 叢書集成.


Source: Chen Bingcai 陳秉才 (1989). "Zhenji 陣紀", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Junshi 軍事, vol. 2, p. 1282. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

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November 19, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail