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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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TitleFajia pouji 法家裒集[A Collection for the Legalist]
Topic4.2 Magistrates handbooks: Handbooks for legal experts
Historical periodEarly Ming (1368 -1584)
AuthorCollected by Chen yong 陳永, published by Tang Yaochen 唐堯臣
Place of publicationHeilongjiang renmin chubanshe 黑龍江人民出版社
Publication typeWoodblock

A fairly rich compendium of practical information for the legal specialist focusing on difficult or ambiguous situations with respect to the penal code. According to such modern authors as Yang Yifan (see above) or He Qinhua (see below), basing themselves on Su You’s preface (which they quote with some differences in wording compared with the 1551 ed.), the final compiler (輯定) was a subaltern official (從史) by the name of Chen Yong 陳永, whom they therefore consider as the “compiler” (輯); but the preface indicates clearly that Chen did no more than fix a text he showed to Su and which had been “recorded by hand by Pan Zhi, a secretary at the metropolitan censorate” (內臺司籍潘智手錄)—possibly the real author. (He is given as the author in the relevant entry in Fazhui [q.v.].) In the Qianqing tang shumu 千頃堂書目 Su You is indicated as author. The 60 folios (in the 1551 ed.) include the following sections: (1) nine mnemonic rhymes on such notions as the degrees of mourning, the “six spoils”, redemption of punishments, exile, and others; (2) explanations on the “sixteen characters” (例分之外十六字) with special use in law; (3) an 11-folio section entitled lü nan yinyong 律難引用, discussing 46 types of situation (mostly introduced by “If...” 如) where the relevant statute does not apply straightforwardly and requiring qualification or the use of analogy; (4) an 11-folio section entitled zhaoni zhinan 招擬指南, giving practical advice on how to compose sentence proposals, with explanations of the terms used in legal language; (5) a 25-folio section in the form of questions and answers, entitled lüyi duanfa 律頤斷法, discussing in very concrete terms a number of judicial quandaries revolving around problems of marriage, property and inheritance, among others (the first question is about sharing one’s property between four sons, one by the wife, one by a concubine, one by a servant, and one by a mistress); it is commended by the Siku editors for its “clarity and prudence” (頗得明慎之意); and finally (6) a 7-folio section entitled fajia mijue 法家密訣, which provides further advice concerning questions where the code is either insufficient or ambiguous. The work is partly or totally quoted in several late-Ming editions of the Penal Code with additional materials in the upper register of the page. The lower register in j. 8 of the Shitu xuanjing (q.v.) reproduces sections (1)-(5) above (the last is incomplete) under the title Fajia yaolan 要覽.

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