An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Huang-Ming shifa lu 皇明世法錄

Jan 23, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Huang-Ming shifa lu 皇明世法錄 is a kind of statecraft encyclopaedia compiled by during the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Chen Renxi 陳仁錫 (1581-1636). He wrote some commentaries on the Confucian Classics like Xici 繄辭, Yijing song 易經頌, Chongding gu Zhouli 重訂古周禮 and Sishu kao 四書考, as well as the collections Shipin chihan 史品赤函, Guwen qishang 古文奇賞 and Suwen qishang 蘇文奇賞, and the encyclopaedia Qianqueju leishu 潛確居類書.

His book of 92 juan length is a collection of information on statecraft of the Ming dynasty. It therefore begins with a part citing from "precious instructions" (baoxun 寶訓) of the early Ming emperors on statecraft. The other parts cover the themes calendar (lifa 歷法), salt monopoly (yanfa 鹽法) and agro-colonies (tuntian 屯田), taxation and land registers, military affairs, management of the Grand Canal and tribute grain transport, border defence, maritime defence, international relations with tribute states, and, as a closing chapter, facts about the founding members of the imperial house and their supporters. Li Mo 李模, who wrote the preface, explained that this collection of the sources had a high value and represented a paradigm for historiography as a compilation of statecraft regulations from one single dynasty. Chen made mainly use of the Da-Ming huidian 大明會典.

The book was printed in the late Ming period. It is reproduced in the series Xuxiu siku quanshu 續修四庫全書提要.

Table 1. Contents of the Huang-Ming shifa lu 皇明世法錄
1-16 維皇建極 The preservation of the highest degree of imperial [perfection]
17-26 懸象設教 Celestial phenomena and the consolidation of doctrines
27-33 法祖垂憲 Take the ancestors as a model and pursue their statues
34-41 裕國恤民 The enrichment of the country and relief to the people
42-48 制兵勅法 The regulation of military affairs and the promulgation of laws
49-55 濬河利漕 Dredging the Grand Canal to improve grain transport
56-74 衝邊嚴備 Strict preparedness against assault of the borders
75-77 沿海置防 The establishment of maritime defence measures along the coast
78-83 獎順伐畔(=叛) Reward of the obedient and attack on the rebels
84-92 崇文援武 The veneration of civilization and support of military affairs
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1439.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchu: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 642.