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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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documentTypeArchival documents
TitleLüli bianlan 律例便覽 [The Penal Code: An Easy Reader]
Topic1. Code and commentaries
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
Reprint (year of)1872
AuthorCai Songnian 蔡嵩年 and Cai Fengnian 蔡逢年
TranslatorVoir la traduction du R.P. Boulais, Manuel du Code chinois (q.v.)
Publication typeWoodblock

Cai Songnian, the older of the two brothers who produced the original 1859 edition, was an official at the Board of Punishments; his aim was to compile a guide that would synthesize the more useful part of the statutes and substatutes in the Penal Code and avoid redundancies, taking account of the fact that the detail and complexities of the code make it impossible for non-specialists to memorize it in its entirety. The work was completed by Cai Fengnian, also a xingbu official. There is a set of 14 tables (諸圖) before the mulu, devoted to the “six spoils” and to various forms of redemption of punishment. The text proper is split between a small commentary at the top of the page (based on the [Da Qing lü] jizhu 輯注 [q.v.] and on various authorities) and the presentation of the statutes and substatutes which have been selected, with some small-character notes marked by zhu 註. The order of the statutes (of which 24 have been omitted because they are rarely used) is that of the 1853 edition of the code; the substatutes have been occasionally rearranged for the sake of clarity; it may happen that the text of either a statute or a substatute be omitted when there is a redundancy. A few leading cases (cheng’an) introducing judgments by analogy (比照科斷) have been inserted where the statuses and substatuses lack clear indications. Explanatory notes are occasionally inserted after the text of a statute or substatute. The text is punctuated, and the paragraphs within individual articles are separated by a circle (as in the original Code). J. 1-7 correspond to the seven parts of the Code (general rules and “six ministries”), j. 8, which is only two pages long, introduces the regulations on “catching fugitives” (dubu zeli 督捕則例). Jiang Qingji says in his preface that the usefulness of the Cai brothers’ work was revealed to him when he was appointed acting provincial judge of Jiangsu in 1860 and was faced with a bewildering accumulation of old files; he compares it to the Tanglü shuyi 唐律疏議 for balance and to the Xingtong fujie (q.v.) for concision. He had eventually a new collated ed. engraved, adding several tens of post-1860 substatutes. Although this Jiang Qingji ed. has not been seen, the fanli of the 1870 Jiangsu shuju ed., which is dated 1864 and signed by the two brothers, must correspond to it. The Jiangsu shuju ed. was published on the order of Governor Ding Richang, as indicated in an entry of Ding’s Fu Wu gongdu (q.v.), undated ed., 41/9a-b, recommending to update the contents, and was supposed to be appended to the Muling shu jiyao (q.v.).

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