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Unless otherwise specified, the descriptions of sources in this section are extracted from Pierre-Etienne Will and collaborators,Official Handbooks and Anthologies of Imperial China: A Descriptive and Critical Bibliography (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).
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TitleDulü peixi 讀律佩觿, 8 j. [The Portable Bodkin for Untangling the Difficulties of the Code]
Topic1. Code and commentaries
AuthorWang Mingde 王明德 (Z. Liangshi 亮士, Jinqiao 金樵)

The work attempts to explicate the Penal Code for its users by taking the discussion of key words, phrases, notions, and technical terms, as its organizing principle; in so doing, it quotes fragments from the text of the code where necessary, rather than proceeding from a complete quotation of the code in its original order like most similar treatises. According to He Qinhua’s introduction to the modern ed., the theoretically-oriented organization of the work represents a breakthrough in the history of “law studies” (lüxue) in the Ming and Qing and makes it a forerunner of the studies of the late Qing legal scholars Xue Yusheng 薛允陞 and Shen Jiaben 沈家本. The text is in clear language and carefully punctuated, thus easy to use, which seems to have made it a comparatively popular guide. The author’s father, Wang Yongji 永吉 (js. 1625, d. 1659), had been a president of the Court of Judicial Review in the Ming and became a Grand Secretary in 1654; he instructed his son that studying the law should not be overlooked, pointing out as an example Confucius’s functions as a judge. Wang Mingde was a director (langzhong) in the Ministry of Justice, and the authors of most of the prefaces seem to belong to the same milieu of capital bureaucrats, especially from the Ministry of Justice. The mulu is followed by a list of no less than 38 collators (canding xingshi 參訂姓氏); the cover-leaf of the copy at Fu Sinian specifies that this is a “private compilation” (siji 私輯, the characters that appear after the name of the author at the beginning of the chapters). The fanli presents the work as a complement to Wang Kentang’s Lüli jianshi (q.v.), with which overlap has been avoided: while the Lüli jianshi is a comprehensive explication of the statutes, the present work is rather the result of discussions among Wang’s colleagues concerning specific difficulties, or on important points that were insufficiently discussed in the former work, which he noted down afterwards. J. 1 includes the prefaces and other front materials, as well as a discussion of the “eight characters” (called the “mother of the law”, lümu 律母) entitled Bazi guangyi 八字廣義, and a text entitled “Eight methods to read the Code” (Dulü bafa 讀律八法). (In some editions j. 1 contains only the Bazi guangyi.) J. 2 contains careful explanations on further characters, phrases and notions basic to the language of law. J. 3 discusses the content of 16 different formulas occurring in the law statutes. J. 4A is devoted to explanations (jie 解) on the meaning of various situations or punishments, while j. 4B has 17 entries discussing the different punishments. J. 5 discusses 64 concluding formulas for judicial decisions, mentioning the law following which (yi 以) the case is adjudicated (lun 論). J. 6 is devoted to banishment and j. 7 to cases which cannot be redeemed (buzhun zheshu 不准折贖). J. 8A and 8B feature the text of a selection of the original Xiyuan jilu and the Xiyuan lu bu 補 (qq.vv.), together with discussions of various forensic problems. Some entries are completed with copies of original documents, all dated from the first fifteen years of the Kangxi reign. [n.p.; phtc. les “huit méthodes pour lire le code”, le fanli et la table]

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