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Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考

Jul 18, 2010© Ulrich Theobald

Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 "Comprehensive investigations based on literary and documentary sources" is an administrative history written during the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) by the historian Ma Duanlin 馬端臨 (1254-c. 1324), courtesy name Guiyu 貴輿, style Zhuzhou 竹洲, from Leping 樂平 in the prefecture of Raozhou 饒州.

Ma compiled his book in retirement after the downfall of the Southern Song dynasty 南宋 (1127-1279). A friend of his, Wang Shouyan 王壽衍 (1273-1353), encouraged him to present it to the throne, which he did, after some revision, in 1319. The Wenxian tongkao has a length of 348 juan. It is a detailed account on all aspects of state administration from antiquity to the Jiading reign-period 嘉定 (1208-1224) of the Southern Song period.

Ma Duanlin makes use of the traditional treatises used by the official dynastic histories, and the treatises in Du You's 杜佑 (735-812) administrative history Tongdian 通典 from the Tang period 唐 (618-907). Ma Duanlin divides his book into 24 "investigative" categories (kao 考), for a part of which he did not follow the patterns of the Tongdian or the official dynastic histories.

The historical treatises on food and commerce (shihuo 食貨), for example, are divided into the investigations on land distribution and the field tax (Tianfu kao 田賦考), monies (Qianbi kao 錢幣考), household registration (Hukou kao 戶口考), corvée (Zhiyi kao 職役考), taxation of merchandise (Zhengqu kao 征榷考), regulation of grain prices (Shidi kao 市糴考), local tributes (Tugong kao 土貢考), and state expenditure (Guoyong kao 國用考).

To the treatises on selection and appointment of officials (Xuanju kao 選舉考), Ma adds a chapter on education and state academies (Xuexiao kao 學校考). The chapters on the various state rituals occupy a large part of the book (Jiaoshe kao 郊社考 "Suburban offerings", Zongjiao kao 宗廟考 "Ancestral temples" and Wangli kao 王禮考 "Royal rituals").

The chapters on ceremonial music (Yue kao 樂考), military (Bing kao 兵考) and penal law (Xing kao 刑考) follow the Tongdian. The bibliographical chapter (Jingji kao 經籍考), and that on the dynastic families (Dixi kao 帝系考), titles of nobility (Fengjian kao 封建考), prognostication (Xiangwei kao 象緯考) and extraordinary events (Wuyi kao 物異考) are thoroughly new in comparison to the Tongdian, but inspired by the Tang huiyao 唐會要, an administrative history of the Tang written during the Song period, or the treatises in the official dynastic histories.

The name of the chapter on administrative geography has been changed from the traditional term Zhoujun 州郡 "Provinces and commanderies" to Yudi 輿地 "Imperial geography", that on the border regions from Bianfang 邊防 "Border Defence" to Siyi 四裔 "The four barbarians". A lot of material has been taken from the Tongdian, and only the newly added chapters and informations about the time between the later Tang and the Southern Song periods have been arranged by Ma Duanlin himself.

Ma Duanlin tried to create a new approach in historiography. While the biographic-thematic style of historiography (jizhuanti 紀傳體) was unable to provide an overview of the historical context, the annalistic style (biannianti 編年體) was short in the description of the administrative system of the government. Therefore, Ma unified both styles and wrote a book arranged in a thematic style, but with chapters written chronologically. He furthermore tried to interconnect the particular chapters to demonstrate the coherence of the whole governmental system, a task only partially achieved by Du You's Tongdian.

For his sources, Ma used an own concept of categorization. Confucian Classics, histories and traditionally often-read treatises of venerable age were called as "literature" (wen 文). Official documents, memorials to the throne, and commentaries and secondary literature to older books are categorized as "contributions" (xian 獻). His own remarks are indicated with the word "note" (an 按). In some places, remarks by Ma Duanlin's father Ma Tingluan 馬廷鸞 (1222-1298) are included, showing that there was a familiary tradition of research in administrative history. In all chapters Ma critically commented the sources he made use of. His critique is presented in paragraphs called "investigations" (kao). This is the explanation of the title of his book. At the beginning of each chapter, Ma provides an introduction into the topic.

The Wenxian tongkao was first printed in 1324. The earliest surviving print dates from the Taiding reign 泰定 (1324-1327) of the Yuan period and was made by the Xihu Studio 西湖書院. There are numerous prints from the Ming 明 (1368-1644) and Qing 清 (1644-1911) periods, for example, that of the Shendu Studio 慎獨齋 from the Zhengde reign-period 正德 (1506-1521), the print of the Directorate of Ceremonial (Silijian 司禮監) from the Jiajing reign-period 嘉靖 (1522-1566), the version of the series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, the print of the Wuying Hall 武英殿本, and a print of Master Xie 謝氏 from Chongren 崇仁 from the Xianfeng reign-period 咸豐 (1851-1861). The most widespread edition is that of the Shanghai Commercial Press 上海商務印書館 from the Republican period 民國 (1911-1949), published as part of the "Ten Comprehensives (Shitong 十通) in the series Wanyou wenku 萬有文庫. This edition includes a critical apparatus of 3 juan. A facsimile edition has been published by the Zhonghua Shuju Press 中華書局 in 1986.

Wang Qi's Xu wenxian tongkao 續文獻通考

The Xu wenxian tongkao 續文獻通考 is an administrative history written during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by Wang Qi 王圻 (jinshi degree 1565). He has wrote the illustrated encyclopaedia Sancai tuhui 三才圖會, the encyclopaedia Baishi leibian 稗史類編, and the Dongwu shuili kao 東吳水利考, a book on river conservation.

The 254-juan long Xu wenxian tongkao was written as a sequel to Ma Duanlin's 馬端臨 (1254-c. 1324) Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). It was finished in 1586. The 30 chapters (kao 考 "investigations") of Wang Qi's Xu wenxian tongkao follow the pattern of the Wenxian tongkao.

There are, nevertheless, some additions, namely the chapters selfless and righteous conduct (Jieyi kao 節義考), posthumous honorific titles (Shifa kao 謚法考), the six styles of writing (Liushu kao 六書考), academies (Shuyuan 書院), Confucians (Daotong kao 道統考), grand families (Shizu kao 氏族考), and Daoists and Buddhists (Xianshi kao 仙釋考). Wang also added some sub-chapters not dealt with in the old Wenxian tongkao, namely the river conservancy for the Yellow River, Lake Taihu, Sanjiang River 三江 and the Grand Canal; transport along the sea shore (haiyun 海運); and Confucianism (yixue 義學).

With the help of an abundant treasury of primary sources from the histories, collected writings, official documents and memorials to the throne, Wang Qi deals with all aspects of administrative history from the late Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) down to Wang's own times. The abundancy of these materials made Wang's Xu wenxian tongkao such an important book, that the official compilation of a Xu wenxian tongkao during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) made extensive use of Wang Qi's book.

The selection of the material was, nevertheless, not done very carefully, and the sub-chapters are in a somewhat chaotic state, resulting in superflous chapters misleading the reader. Wang created, for instance, eleven different sections on morally integer women (zhongfu 忠婦 "loyal women", xiaofu 孝婦 "women displaying filial piety", jiefu 節婦 "women displaying female chastity", liefu 烈婦 "eminent women", 順孫 "obedient grandsons", yifu 義夫 "men displaying righteous conduct", yinü 義女 "women [...]", yitu 義徒 "disciples [...]", yimu 義母 "mothers [...]", yiqie 義妾 "secondary wives [...]", yipu 義仆 "servants [...]"), while the Wenxian tongkao had only two categories (lienü 列女 "eminent women" and xiaoyi 孝義 "persons displaying filial and righteous conduct").

Wang Qi drew up a separate section of the salt tax in Guizhou (yanyinke 鹽引課), which should be dealt with in the section on salt and iron (Yantie men 鹽鐵門); the separate section on making fodder for horses on campaigns would have to be inserted in the chapter on military (Bing kao 兵考) but is to be found in the chapter on corvée (Tianfu kao 田賦考). Inspite of superfacial similiarity, both books, the Wenxian tongkao, and Wang Qi's sequel, are of a different character, and the latter has been categorized as an encyclopaedia, while the Wenxian tongkao is dealt with as a historiographical book.

The chapters of Wang Qi's Xu wenxian tongkao are:

Table 1. Contents of Wang Qi's 王圻 Xu wenxian tongkao 續文獻通考
1-16 田賦考 Field tax
17-18 錢幣考 Money
19-20 戶口考 Household registration
21 職役考 Corvée
22-30 征榷考 Trade taxes and monopolies
31 市糴考 Regulation of grain prices
32-33 土貢考 Local tributes
34-42 國用考 State expenditure
34-54 選舉考 Selection and promotion of state officials
55-61 學校考 Schools (app. 書院 Academies)
62-83 節義考 Righeous comportment
84-103 職官考 State offices
104-110 郊社考 State altars
111-115 宗廟考 Ancestral altars
116-133 王禮考 Royal rites
134-152 謚法考 The rules of posthumous titles
153-160 樂考 Music
161-166 兵考 Military
167-171 刑考 Penal law
172-183 經籍考 Scholarship and literature
184-188 六書考 The six writing styles
189-190 帝系考 The imperial houses
191-197 封建考 Feudatories
189-206 道統考 Confucianism
207-214 氏族考 Eminent families
215-219 象緯考 Omina and portents
220-224 物異考 Strange events
225-233 輿地考 Administrative geography
234-238 四裔考 The barbarians of the four cardinal directions
239-254 仙釋考 Daoism and Buddhism

The Qing-period scholar Mao Qiling 毛奇齡 (1623-1716) wrote a 48-juan long supplement called Xu wenxian tongkao bu 續文獻通考補.

There is a print from 1603, now kept in the Peking University Library 北京大學圖書館. It was reprinted as a facsimile by the Xiandai Press 現代出版社 in 1986. During the Qing period, the book was officially forbidden for circulation because it was ranked as an Anti-Manchu book. Therefore, a new Xu wenxian tongkao was compiled on imperial command.

The official Xu wenxian tongkao 續文獻通考

The Xu wenxian tongkao 續文獻通考, official title Qinding xu wenxian tongkao 欽定續文獻通考, is an administrative history compiled on imperial command between 1747 and 1767 (or 1772), with a revision until 1784. It was written as a sequel to the Yuan-period 元 (1279-1368) book Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 compiled by Ma Duanlin 馬端臨 (1254-c. 1324).

For the compilation of the Xu wenxian tongkao, a special institute was set up, the Santongguan 三通館, which operated the compilation of the two administrative histories Xu wenxian tongkao, and Xu tongdian 續通典, and the alternative history Xu tongzhi 續通志, three books whose titles included the word tong 通 "comprehensive".

The Xu wenxian tongkao has a length of 250 juan long and describes the government institutions of China between 1225 and 1644. The 26 chapters (kao 考 "investigations") of the Xu wenxian tongkao follow the pattern of the Wenxian tongkao. There are, nevertheless, some minor changes.

The chapter on the state altars (Jiaoshe kao 郊社考) is divided into two parts, with a new chapter of various shrines (Qunsi kao 群祀考), the same is valid for the chapter on the ancestral temples of the dynasties (Zongmiao kao 宗廟考), from which a new chapter on various temples (Qunmiao kao 群廟考) has been split off. The officially compiled Xu wenxian tongkao is less correct and clear than Wang Qi's 王圻 privately written Xu wenxian tongkao.

There is a print from the Wuying Hall 武英殿 and a reprint published by the Zhejiang Press 浙江書局 at the end of the Qing period 清 (1644-1911). Between 1935 and 1937, the Shanghai Commercial press 上海商務印書館 published it among the "Ten Comprehensives (Shitong 十通) in the series Wanyou wenku 萬有文庫.

Qing wenxian tongkao 清文獻通考

The Qing wenxian tongkao 清文獻通考 or Qingchao wenxian tongkao 清朝文獻通考, official title Qinding huangchao wenxian tongkao 欽定皇朝文獻通考, is an administrative history compiled on imperial command between 1747 and 1784. The compilation was supervised by Xi Huang 嵇璜 (1711-1794), Cao Renhu 曹仁虎 (1731-1787), and Liu Yong 劉墉 (1719-1805) and the resulting book was revised by Ji Yun 紀昀 (1724-1805) before publication. It is written as a supplement to the Yuan-period 元 (1279-1368) book Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 by Ma Duanlin 馬端臨 (1254-c. 1324) and some sequels to it, like the official Xu wenxian tongkao 續文獻通考.

For the compilation of the Xu wenxian tongkao and the Qing wenxian tongkao, a special institute was set up, the Santongguan 三通館, which was responsible for the compilation of the three book Qing wenxian tongkao, Qing tongdian 清通典, and Qing tongzhi 清通志.

The Qing wenxian tongkao has a length of 300 juan and is divided into 26 "investigations" (kao 考), following the pattern of the Wenxian tongkao and its sequels, with an introductory chapter explaining the guidelines of the compilation (fanli 凡例).

There are, nevertheless, some minor changes to the predecessors: In the chapter on the field and tax systems (Tianzhi kao 田賦考), the field allotment system for the Eight Banners is explained (Baqi tianzhi 八旗田制); in the chapter on monies (Qianbi kao 錢幣考), a section on the conversion of silver is inserted (Yinse yinzhi 銀色銀直), as well as a section on the Uyghurian pul money (Huibu puer 回部普兒); in the chapter on household administration (Hukou kao 戶口考), the registration system for the male adults in Banner households (Baqi zhuangding 八旗壯丁) is explained; in the chapter on local tributes (Tugong kao 土貢考), a section on the Mongols is included (waifan 外藩); in the schools chapter (Xuexiao kao 學校考) an section on the Banner official schools (Baqi guanxue 八旗官學); in the chapter on titles of nobility (Fengjian kao 封建考), a section for the Mongol princes is added (Menggu gongwang 蒙古王公).

The sections "Transport regulation" (junshu 均輸) and "Adjustment of grain prices" (maihedi 買和糴) are omitted in the chapter on the regulation of grain prices (Shidi kao 市糴考); the section of elementary schools (tongzike 童子科) in the chapter on official selection and appointment (Xuanju kao 選舉考) is left out; and there is no section on fighting with chariots in the chapter on warfare (Bing kao 兵考).

The Qing wenxian tongkao covers the administrative institutions and regulations from the year 1616 to the late Qianlong reign-period 乾隆 (1785). It is more detailed than the very similar encyclopaedia Qing tongdian.

Between 1935 and 1937, the Shanghai Commercial Press 上海商務印書館 published it among the "Ten Comprehensives" (Shitong 十通) in the series Wanyou wenku 萬有文庫.

Qingchao xu wenxian tongkao 清朝續文獻通考

The Qingchao xu wenxian tongkao 清朝續文獻通考, original title Huangchao xu wenxian tongkao 皇朝續文獻通考, is an administrative history written by the late Qing 清 (1644-1911) and early Republican period 民國 (1911-1949) scholar Liu Jinzao 劉錦藻 (1862-1934). It was written as a sequel to the Qing wenxian tongkao 清文獻通考.

The original, 320-juan long version covered the history of the administrative institutions and regulations from the late Qianlong reign-period 乾隆 (1736-1795) to the year 1904. Later on, Liu extended it to the end of the Qing and added 80 juan, resulting in a total length of 400 juan. The chapters (kao 考 "investigations") follow the pattern of the Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考 of Ma Duanlin 馬端臨 (1254-c. 1324) from the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). There are, nevertheless, some additions.

Liu Jinzao adds the chapters Waijiao 外交 "Foreign affairs", Youchuan 郵傳 or Youdi 郵遞 "Postal system", Shiye 實業 "Industry and manufacture", and Xianzheng 憲政 "Constitutional government", with a total of 30 chapters. There are also a lot of new sub-chapters concerning various topics of statecraft that were not yet introduced in the early 19th century, like the lijin 厘金 (likin) tax and opium policy (yangyao 洋藥) in the chapter on taxes (Zhengque kao 征榷考), the bank system (yinhang 銀行), maritime transport [replacing the transport on the Grand Canal] (haiyun 海運) and state loans (zixuan 貲選) in the chapter on state expenditures (Guoyong kao 國用考), private academies (shuyuan 書院), libraries (tushu 圖書) and public schools (xuetang 學堂) in the chapter on education (Xuexiao kao 學校考 Xuexiao), and the modern armies created in the second half of the 19th century in the chapter on military (Bing kao 兵考).

The 320-juan version was printed in 1905, the version in 400 juan was published during the Republican period by the Shangwu Yinshuguan Press 商務印書館 as part of the "Ten Comprehensives (Shitong 十通) in the series Wanyou wenku 萬有文庫.

Table 2. Contents of the four Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考
文獻通考 Wenxian tongkao by Ma Duanlin 馬端臨 續文獻通考 Xu wenxian tongkao 清朝文獻通考 Qingchao wenxian tongkao 清朝續文獻通考 Qingchao xu wenxian tongkao
1 田賦考 Tianfu Field tax 1.-7. 1.-6. 1.-12. 1.-18.
2 錢幣考 Qianbi Money 8.-9. 7.-11. 13.-18. 19.-24.
3 戶口考 Hukou Households 10.-11. 12.-14. 19.-20. 25.-26.
4 職役考 Zhiyi Corvée 12.-13. 15.-17. 21.-25. 27.-28.
5 征榷考 Zhengque Taxes and monopolies 14.-19. 18.-24. 26.-31. 29.-55.
6 市糴考 Shidi Adjustment of grain prices 20.-21. 25.-27. 32.-37. 56.-61.
7 土貢考 Tugong Local tributes 22. 28.-29. 38. 62.
8 國用考 Guoyong State expenditure 23.-27. 30.-33. 39.-46. 63.-83.
9 選舉考 Xuanju Selection of state officials 28.-39. 34.-46. 47.-62. 84.-93.
10 學校考 Xuexiao Edication 40.-46. 47.-50. 63.-78. 94.-114.
11 職官考 Zhiguan State offices 47.-67. 51.-64. 79.-90. 115.-146.
12 郊社考 Jiaoshe State altars 68.-90. 65.-76. 91.-104. 147.-156.
13 群祀考 Qunsi Various altars -- 77.-79. 105.-106. 157.-158.
14 宗廟考 Zongmiao Ancestral temples 91.-105. 80.-84. 107.-118. 159.-165.
15 群廟考 Qunmiao Various temples -- 85.-86. 119.-124. 166.-169.
16 王禮考 Wangli Royal rites 106.-127. 87.-100. 125.-154. 170.-187.
17 樂考 Yue Music 128.-148. 101.-120. 155.-178. 188.-201.
18 兵考 Bing Military 149.-161. 121.-134. 179.-194. 202.-241.
19 刑考 Xing Penal law 162.-173. 135.-140. 195.-210. 242.-256.
20 經籍考 Jingji Scholarship and literature 174.-249. 141.-198. 211.-238. 257.-282.
21 帝係考 Dixi The imperial line 250.-259. 199.-205. 239.-245. 283.-286.
22 封建考 Fengjian Feudatories 260.-277. 206.-209. 246.-255. 287.-293.
23 象緯考 Xiangwei Omina and portents 278.-294. 210.-215. 256.-267. 294.-303.
24 物異考 Wuyi Strange events 295.-314. 216.-228. 268. 304.
25 輿地考 Yudi Administrative geography 315.-323. 229.-236. 269.-292. 305.-330.
26 四裔考 Siyi The barbarians of the four directions 324.-348. 237.-250. 293.-300. 331.-336.
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