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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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TitleXunci 㽦辭
Short title(Court Verdicts That Touch the Heart)
Topic2.2 Judicial cases: Local casebooks
Historical periodLate Ming (1585-1644)
Reprint (year of)2005
AuthorZhang Kentang 張肯堂
CollectionLidai panli pandu 歷代判例判牘
Number of volume4
Place of publication北京
Publication typePrint

An anthology of judicial cases judged by the author as magistrate of Junxian 濬縣, in Henan (or, for some of them, in neighboring counties where Zhang was serving as acting magistrate) around 1630. The work was originally part of the Wan’er ji, a 20-juan collection of the author’s administrative pieces from his tenure at Junxian, now lost but mentioned in the Mingshi and described in Cheng Jingzhi’s preface. There are 308 entries, dealing with a total 302 cases. (A few entries are general narratives, e.g. on bandit suppression, and some cases are discussed in several entries.) Each entry is a “judgment” (yan 讞, the word used at the head of the chapters to indicate the nature of Zhang’s authorship); it consists of a short narrative of the case and ends with the legal and/or moral bases for judgement; the sentence itself is indicated only occasionally. The text is over-abundantly punctuated. There are also 24 “judgements on important criminals” [check this meaning] (審錄要囚參語) appended, which in fact are not distinguished from the rest in the text itself. A number of cases deal with military families and military domains. According to Jiang Yonglin (see below), the 302 cases judged by the author are in the form not of “leading cases” (cheng’an) or other official documents but of rewritten narratives emphasizing the author’s reliance on the dynastic penal code and on moral values in making decisions. The work may be considered both as a model anthology for officials and (Jiang’s interpretation) as warnings intended as admonishments to the public. According to Cheng’s preface, the word xun in the title is in comparison with deep plowing that brings out the richness of the soil: in the same way, Zhang’s direct and well-crafted judgements went directly to the hearts of the contending parties.ca

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