An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Huang-Ming zuxun 皇明祖訓

Jul 11, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

The first emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋, temple name Ming Taizu 明太祖 (r. 1368-1396), cared for the institutionalisation of each political aspect of his reign and dynasty. In 1373 a book containing advices on behaviour for imperial princes and members of the household was issued with the title Zuxunlu 祖訓錄 "Instructions by the (dynastic) ancestor". The 1395 edition was published under the title Huang-Ming zuxun 皇明祖訓 "Instructions by the ancestor of the August Ming".

The Zuxun contains regulations for rituals and etiquette for various occasions. The introductory chapter was composed by the emperor himself in which he addresses his sons always to exert a strict government in a legalist way. In order to save the dynasty the future emperors would have to live themselves a life of austerity and to have a watchful eye not only to ancestral veneration and to the various ritual performances, but they also had to keep an eye on their relatives, mighty officials (civil and military) and empresses.

Table 1. Contents of the Huang-Ming zuxun 皇明祖訓
1. 箴戒 Exhortations
2. 持守 Adhering to austerity
3. 嚴祭祀 Observing rituals
4. 謹岀入 Seriousness when enthroning an emperor
5. 慎國政 Watchfulness in government affairs
6. 禮儀 Rites and etiquette
7. 法律 Laws and punishments
8. 內令 Orders for the inner chambers (empresses)
9. 內官 The inner offices
10. 職制 Arrangement of the offices
11. 兵衛 Palace guards
12. 營繕 Austerity in managment
13. 供用 Provision of taxes and labour
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Li Long 李龍 (2010). "Mingchao houshi huangdi dui Huang-Ming zuxun de beipan 明朝後世皇帝對《皇明祖訓》的背叛", Chifeng Xueyuan xuebao (Hanwen zhexue shehui kexue ban) 赤峰學院學報(漢文哲學社會科學版), 2010 (10).
Shun Li 舜犁 (1994). "Huang-Ming zuxun: Yi bu chuanshou zhiguo zhi dao de huangshi jiaxun 《皇明祖訓》──一部傳授治國之道的皇室家訓", Zhongguo xingzheng guanli 中國行政管理, 1994 (3).
Yuan Bin 袁斌 (2010). "Cong Huang-Ming zuxun dao Ming huidian: Jianlun Mingdai fanwang de jicheng zhidu 從《皇明祖訓》到《明會典》——簡論明代藩王的繼承制度", Hunan Gongye Zhiye Jishu Xueyuan xuebao 湖南工業職業技術學院學報, 2010 (4).