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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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TitleBan’an yaolüe 辦案要略 [Essentials for Handling Cases]
Topic4.2 Magistrates handbooks: Handbooks for legal experts
Historical periodEarly Qing (1644-1796)
AuthorWang Youhuai 王又槐
CollectionGuanzhen shu jicheng 官箴書集成
Number of volume4
Publication typeWoodblock

The text includes 14 entries—12 presented as “discussions” (論)—dealing with various topics related to criminal affairs and the administration of justice from the point of view of an experienced legal secretary. Zhang Tingxiang notes in his pref. that, whereas Wang’s Xingqian bilan and Qiangu beiyao (qq.v.), composed some ninety years ago, are still found in bookstores, his small congshu, Zhizheng jiyao (q.v.), has long been out of print; he further notes that of the 10 texts included therein, Ban’an yaolüe is the one that is not outdated, nor does it contain materials easy to find elsewhere. The topics discussed include homicides (命案), sexual crimes and related homicides (犯姦及因姦致命案), theft, both violent and stealthy (強竊盜案), forcible robbery (搶奪), miscellanous crimes (雜案), answering complaints (批呈詞), reporting on cases (詳案), recording confessions (敘供), writing conclusions (作看), writing informal reports (作稟), rejected cases (駁案), with appealed cases appended (附上控案), the various kinds of reporting (詳報), increasing and reducing cangue and beatings (枷杖加減), and the six spoils (六贓). The Zhizheng jiyao text includes an additional entry on “Taking care of shipwrecked foreigners” (撫恤難番). The material in each section is organized along the lines of the Penal Code and includes practical hints as well as interpretations of difficult legal concepts. Each general type of crime is further subdivided into several subcategories. For example, the section on “homicides” distinguishes between homicide as the result of an affray, premeditated homicide, murder by poisoning, murder resulting from illegal torture, and others. “Miscellaneous crimes” discusses kidnapping, the selling of people (e.g., wives), fraud, forgery, and other types of wrongdoing. In addition to information about substantive legal issues, the work also has discussions of procedural issues (e.g., how to transcribe testimonies and confessions, answer complaints, write reports, follow the laws, conduct an investigation, etc.) interspersed throughout the text. The work is extremely useful for understanding Qing law in practice, as well as the role of legal secretaries in the judicial process. It is more or less identical to Bai Ruzhen’s Xingming yide (q.v.), which, as shown by Chen Li and Guo Runtao (see below), is in fact its source, as it was for other works as well (see under Xingming yide). The circulation of Ban’an yaolüe seems to have been quite limited until it was included in Rumu xuzhi.

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