An extended and fairly discursive commentary to the Ming Code, adapted to the Qing Code in the Gu Ding edition. The title of the Ming ed., also found in the bibliographic treatise of Mingshi, is Lüli jianshi; He Qinhua (see below) assumes that it stands for Da Ming lü fuli jianshi, which is the title found in several library catalogs. The work is based on Dulü sijian (q.v.), a treatise by the author’s father, Wang Qiao 樵, who like his son had been an official at the Nanjing Ministry of Justice; the joint authorship is acknowledged in all known Ming copies, whose chapter captions give Wang Qiao as sijian 私箋 and Wang Kentang as jishi 集釋. He Qinhua’s comparisons suggest that, while he did pick up the “notes” of his father, Wang Kentang enlarged them considerably, providing lengthy explanations in language easy to understand and adding quotations from substatutes. Like many other Ming works of its sort, Lüli jianshi opens with the Hongwu emperor’s pref. to the 1397 ed. of the Penal Code and the 1585 memorial of presentation of the Wanli ed., followed by a variety of tables and other materials: five punishments, instruments for punishments, rules of mourning, six spoils, rates of redemption of punishments, 1497 rules on capital crimes subject to amnesty or not (see under Lüli leichao), general table of contents of the Code, eight characters, and detailed table of contents listing the 460 statutes of the Code (there may be changes in the order depending on the copy). The body of the work consists of entries reproducing the text of the Code, each statute (or paragraph thereof) and precedent followed by explanations and commentaries (there is also a general commentary at the beginning of each section); there are occasional quotes from such texts as Da Ming huidian 大明會典, Da Ming ling 大明令, Xian’gang 憲剛, etc., or extracts from Xiyuan jilu (q.v.) appended to the statute on forensic examination, as well as hypothetical cases (introduced by jiaru 假如).
The Hongwu pref. and Ming memorials have been removed from the early Qing adaptation by Gu Ding. The 1691 chongbian features notable differences with the 1689 ed. sponsored by Xia Zhangqi: the 1691 “Eight articles” use much of the 1689 fanli but have been expanded and differently organized; the mention of Xia’s sponsorship has disappeared. The commentary seems to be essentially the same in the two versions, but with some rewriting and changes in wording from one to the other, usually in the direction of a more flowery style. While Wang Kentang’s authorship is reflected in the title of Gu Ding’s adaptation, in the 1691 chongbian only four collators and arrangers, including Gu Ding as “chongbian,” are mentioned in chapter captions (there is no mention at all in the 1689 ed.); Wang Qiao is no longer mentioned. An important difference from the Ming version is that the text of the Code is absent: only the commentary appears. Even the tables in j. 首 (圖註: five punishments, degrees of mourning, eight characters, six spoils, redemption rates, compensations for people unjustly punished) are represented by their sole titles, followed by lengthy commentaries. (Wang Kentang’s original version has no commentary to the tables.) In the body of the work only the titles of the statutes are given, immediately followed by the commentary, most often introduced by the words shi yue 釋曰, discussing each paragraph of a statute one by one when necessary; substatutes are mentioned, but not quoted in full. It also appears that Gu mixed up the substatutes and Wang’s commentaries, made various cuts, and generally tried to make the text simpler and easier to follow by giving prominence to Wang’s commentary at the expense of the law itself; besides, Gu Ding’s “eight articles” indicate that he rearranged the order of the entries to follow the order of the Qing Code promulgated in 1646. He also replaced “Ming” with “Qing” in the text and did other such necessary—in his time—adaptations (not without mistakenly allowing some specific Ming features to stay, as noted by Ch’en Fu-mei [see below]). He specifies that he added the three texts appended in j. 末. In a general way, the Lüli jianshi’s contents and style of commentary were extremely influential both in the late Ming and—thanks to Gu Ding’s revival of the text—during the entire Qing. Wang Kentang’s work also established the standard explanation for the so-called “eight characters” (例分八字之義)—words with special syntactic importance whose interpretation is crucial for understanding correctly the text of the law. Wang’s explanations and commentaries were systematically printed above the relevant statutes and substatutes in the 1705 Da Qing lü jianshi hechao (q.v.). For a different early-Qing adaptation of Wang Kentang’s commentary, see under Da Qing lü jianshi.