175 documents
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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TitleHuanxiang yaoze 宦鄉要則 [Important Models for Officials In Post and At Home]
Topic4.1 Magistrates handbooks: General
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
AuthorZhang Jianying 張鑒瀛
CollectionGuanzhen shu jicheng 官箴書集成
Number of volume9
Publication typeWoodblock

A practical and extremely concrete handbook centered on the formal aspects of the life of administrators—both in service (宦) and retired (鄉)—with a wealth of details on the formats, procedures, and terminology applying to the different types of documents and correspondence, both public and private, and a strong emphasis on etiquette. It is probably the most thorough introduction in existence to every kind of paperwork involved in an official’s life. The pref. to the 1885 Shanghai ed. says that since the appearance of Huanxiang yaoze “there are established tracks so as not to be made fun of by distinguished people” (有可循之成轍不致貽笑於大方). J. 1 is devoted to formal correspondence related to the judicial, fiscal, ritual, and administrative functions of officials, providing sample formats and descriptions of the most commonly written and received documents, such as memorials, communications between civilian and military officials of every rank, reports to superiors, proclamations, judgments, and the like, explaining every step of the procedure as well as the terminology in use and formal constraints such as page layout, taboos to respect, words to use, and so on. Some texts from other authors (e.g., Huang Liuhong) are quoted along the way. J. 2 deals with the various steps from selection at the capital to assuming one’s post, transferring accounts (交盤), dealing with clerks and with the administrative bureaus (房), for which there is a long list of abuses to discourage, as in standard magistrate handbooks; there is a strong emphasis on documents and forms as well as on the social aspects of official life, such as the etiquette and rituals governing intercourse between officials of equal or different rank and the numerous forms of correspondence involved, all described with the utmost detail. J. 3 starts with a long list of errors to avoid in writing correspondences (辨訛), then discusses the style of various messages between officials (通札式); this is followed by numerous examples of epistolary address for every conceivable kind of circumstance (各信起首式), by instructions on how to write calling cards (官銜手本式), CVs (履歷手本式), cards on twin red sheets (雙紅稟式), or one red and one white (紅白稟), enclosures (夾單稟式), and more, also in all sorts of circumstances (the variety is staggering). J. 4 is devoted to correspondence between officials written for marriages, birthdays, and other ceremonies, including lists of gifts, thank-you notes, as well as models for invitation (請帖式) or parting (辭帖式) notes. J. 5 focuses on the documents related to funerals and mourning; tables of degrees of mourning are provided at the end. J. 6 is devoted to the terms of address (稱呼) to use in writing concerning relatives, both male and female, in every conceivable combination, including relatives by marriage; the last section deals with terms of address to use towards masters, friends, classmates, and there is an appendix on terms to use by women. J. 7 features a variety of materials, such as a list of all the official titles (including honorary titles for officials’ parents) arranged by descending order of rank (品級), first civilian and then military; the regulations on conferring honorary ranks to the officials’ ascendants; honorary ranks conferred to elderly people (from age 70 to age 120 and over); alternative appellations for official titles in the capital and in the provinces; schools and examinations; and regulations on avoidance and mourning. In his short introduction (弁言) the author claims that his aim has been to provide access to a type of knowledge that private secretaries like to “copy secretly” (秘鈔) in order to enhance its value. The fanli insists that the book’s contents are much fuller than those of Huanxiang yingchou beilan (q.v.), which was published a few years earlier: the term yingchou well emphasizes the importance of social intercourse in the work’s approach to official life. In the Zhenyi shuju, 1892, and 1905 eds. the introductory statement and fanli are preceded by a short but extremely precise juan 首, titled Zengbu 增補 huanxiang yaoze (introduced in the 1886 Huanxiang laoren pref. to the 1905 ed.), devoted to the presentation of official documents and correspondence and to the alternative appellations for both posts and their incumbents. For an update published at the very end of the Qing see Huanxiang xin yaoze.

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