An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

tanshi 彈事, accusations

Feb 22, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Tanshi 彈事, also called tanci 彈詞, tanzhang 彈章, tanwen 彈文, tanmo 彈墨 or zoutan 奏彈, was a special type of memorial used during the evaluation (tanhe 彈劾) of state officials. This type of document was reserved for used by high members of the Censorate who supervised the evaluation. "Accusations" were including arguments why an individual official had committed serious mistakes in office, and why and how he should be punished. Literary high-standing examples for accusations are Ren Yansheng tan Cao Jingzong 任彥升彈曹景宗 by Ren Fang 任防 (460-508) and Shen Xiuwen zou tan Wang Yuan 沈休文奏彈王源 by Shen Yue 沈約 (441-513), both included in the anthology Wenxuan 文選. Wu Ne 吳納 (1372-1457) explained in his literary theory Wenzhang bianti 文章辨體 that accusations were allowed usage of bold and direct language, but should argue with clarity and honesty (mingyun chengdu 明允誠篤) and according to legal principles (bi li you dianxian 必理有典憲), in order to avoid abuse or slander.

Lin Fei 林非, ed. (1997). Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), 125.
Wang Zhibin 王志彬, ed. (2002). Xinbian gongwen da cidian 新編公文語用詞典 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 323.
Yan Jinghan 閻景翰, ed. (1990). Xiezuo yishu da cidian 寫作藝術大辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 1244.