37 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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Description
documentTypeBook
TitleWuxing lu/Mukei Roku 無刑錄 [Records for punishing no more]
Topic4.2 Magistrates handbooks: Handbooks for legal experts
Historical periodLate Qing (1797-1911)
Year1755
Reprint (year of)1877
AuthorAshi Tozan 蘆東山 (1696-1776)
Translatorreprint by Mutsu Munemitsu (陸奥 宗光)
Publication typePrint
Abstract

The title  is an abbreviation of  the famous expression of the Book of Documents (Shang shu): Xing qi wu xing 刑期無刑 , "To punish with a view to punishing no more". The book may be outlined a Japanese adaptation of Shenxing xian 慎刑憲 the ninth part in the monumental Daxueyanyi bu by the Ming Censor Qiu Jun (see Shenxing xian), but with a content significantly modified, to include elements of other books representative of the Shenxing 慎刑 doctrine, which instructed Chinese magistrates that punishments should be used only with great "precaution" or "scruple" (shen 慎). These books are notably Xiangxing yaolan by Wu Ne, Ping Yuanlu by Zhao Yizhai,  Xiyuan jilu by Song Ci (qqq.vvv.), and for the general plan, the compiler says he took inspiration not only from the "Shenxing xian" of Qiu Jun's magnus opus mentioned earlier, but also from the penal parts in Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考, by Ma Duanlin 馬端臨.  Indeed, the Japanese Records follow the same progression as its Chinese models, from a general purpose on punishments, to exposing the legal system, describing penal instruments, detailing procedures in trials, sentencing, reviewing sentences, redressing injustices, amnisties and pardons, technicalities on prisons, and finishing with warnings about excessive punishments. The content has been somewhat simplified, nonetheless, since, for instance, the hexagrams of the Book of Changes (Yijing 易經) that constituted cornerstones of the doctrine, hence their apparition at the head of most chapters in the Chinese original, have been mostly shunned in the Japanese version. The Chinese text is duly bordered by the diacritic signs allowing to read it according to the Japanese syntax. A superior margin, absent from the Chinese original, receives some incidental information. Interestingly, the book was reprinted twice in the Meiji period, a first time in 1877, a second time in 1884, both by Mutsu Minemitsu  (陸奥 宗光), on behalf of the Chamber of Elders (元老院 Genrōin). The first edition was very likely prompted by the publication of the Ming code (大明律), in its Japanese version of 1871, which was the first attempt at codification for the whole Japan by the new imperial State. The reprints include the author's preface informing us about the resources of this "record", and a biographical sketch by Saitō Chikudō (斉藤 竹堂 1815-1852), a scholar who, like Ashi himself, served the Lord of Sendai; the 1884 starts with a preface to the reedition by Mizumoto Shigemi (水本成美) relating how the Chamber of Elders was persuaded to take over the reprint (JB, as of 07-07-2015).

Comment

Born in Iwai county of Iwate prefecture, the son of a village head, Ashi Tozan became proficient in Confucian classics, thanks notably to the teaching of the Confucian scholar Tanabe Marekata of the Sendai clan, before being taught by the more famous Miyake Shosai (三宅尚齋) and Takya Tessai in Kyoto. Called to Edo to be taught by  Muro Kyūsō (室鳩巣, 1658-1734), a Confucian scholar praised by the Shogun Yoshimune, he later returned to serve the Sendai clan as a scholar. His great work on Chinese penal law was initiated by Muro, who requested it in these terms: "The books on law and decrees of our country are scattered, or missing. I wanted so much to pick from all Confucian scholars of China opinions on penal laws, and assemble them into a book. But I am old now, and cannot do it, it is up to my disciple to pursue and achieve this task" (皇國律令之書,殘闕不存。我嘗欲采漢土諸儒論及刑律者,輯爲一書。今老矣,無能爲也,子繼而成之). As a consciencious disciple, Ashi then devoted three decades of his life to study penal law, and publish this compendium on the best Chinese penal tradition.

SubjectLaw
LanguageChinese
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