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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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TitleDa Ming lü fuli jianshi 大明律附例箋釋[An Explication of the Code and Substatutes of the Great Ming]
Topic1. Code and commentaries
Historical periodLate Ming (1585-1644)
AuthorWang Kentang 王肯堂
Publication typeWoodblock
CommentRem.: An extended and fairly discursive commentary to the Ming Code, somewhat adapted to the Qing Code in the Gu Ding edition. The title of the Ming ed., also found in the bibliographic treatise of the Mingshi, is Lüli jianshi; He Qinhua (see below) assumes that it stands for Da Ming lü fuli jianshi, which is the title found in several library catalogues. The work took as its basis the Dulü sijian 讀律私箋 (q.v.), a treatise by the author’s father, Wang Qiao 樵, who like Wang Kentang had been an official at the Nanjing Ministry of Justice; the joint authorship is acknowledged in all known Ming eds., which give at the head of the chapters Wang Qiao as sijian 私箋 and Wang Kentang as jishi 集釋. He Qinhua’s comparisons show that, while he did pick up the “notes” of his father, Wang Kentang enlarged them considerably, providing lengthy explanations in language easy to understand and adding quotations from the substatutes. Like many other Ming works of its sort, the Lüli jianshi opens with the Hongwu emperor’s preface to the 1397 edition of the penal code and the memorial of presentation of the Wanli edition, followed by a variety of tables and other materials: five punishments, instruments for punishment, rules of mourning (one general and several detailed tables), “six spoils”, rates of redemption of punishments, 1497 rules on the application of the death penalty (真犯雜犯死罪), arranging the crimes by decreasing order of gravity of the sentence and its application, general table of contents of the Code, “eight characters”, and detailed table of contents listing the 460 statutes of the Code (there may be changes in the order depending on the copy). The body of the work consists of entries introducing the text of the Code, each law (or paragraph thereof) and substatute being followed by the author’s explanations and commentaries; there are also occasional quotes from such texts as the Huidian, Da Ming ling, Xian’gang, etc., as well as of hypothetical cases (introduced by jiaru).
In the early Qing adaptation by Gu Ding, the Hongwu preface and Ming memorials have been cut. The 1691 chongbian features notable differences with the 1689 edition sponsored by Xia Zhangqi: the 1691 “Eight articles” use much of the 1689 fanli but are more extended and differently organized; the mention of Xia’s sponsorship has disappeared. The commentary seems to be essentially the same in the two versions, but with some rewriting and changes in wording from one to the other, usually in the direction of a more flowery style. While Wang Kentang’s authorship is reflected in the title of Gu Ding’s adaptation, only four collators and arrangers, including Gu Ding as “chongbian”, are mentioned at the head of the chapters (in the 1691 chongbian; there is no mention at all in the 1689 ed.), and Wang Qiao is no longer cited. Contrary to the Ming version, the text of the Code is no longer quoted: only the commentary appears, most often introduced by the words 釋曰, discussing each paragraph of a statute one by one when applying. Even the tables in j. shou (tuzhu: five punishments, degrees of mourning, eight characters, six spoils, redemption rates, compensations for people unjustly punished) are represented by their sole titles, followed by lengthy commentaries (Wang Kentang’s original version has no commentary to the tables). Likewise, in the body of the work only the titles of the statutes are given, immediately followed by the commentary; substatutes are mentioned, but not quoted in full. It also appears that Gu mixed up the texts of the substatutes and of Wang’s commentaries, made various cuts, and generally tried to make the text simpler and easier to follow by giving prominence to Wang’s commentary at the expense of the law itself; besides, Gu Ding’s “eight articles” indicate that he rearranged the order of the entries to follow the order of the Qing Code promulgated in 1646. He Qinhua’s comparisons further show that he also replaced “Ming” with “Qing” in the text and did other such necessary—in his time—adaptations (not without mistakenly allowing some specific Ming features to stay, as noted by Ch’en Fu-mei [see below]). Gu specifies that he added the three texts appended in juan mo (two in the 1689 version). In general, the Lüli jianshi’s contents and style of commentary were very influential both in the late Ming and—thanks to Gu Ding’s revival of the text—during the entire Qing. It also established the standard explanation for the so-called “eight characters” (lifen bazi zhi yi 例分八字之義)—grammatical words whose interpretation is crucial for understanding correctly the text of the law. Wang Kentang’s explanations and commentaries were systematically printed above the relevant statutes and substatutes in the Da Qing lü jianshi hechao (q.v.) in 1705.
Ed.: *Undated Ming ed., printing blocks “at this yamen” 本衙藏板, author on cover-leaf Wang Yutai 王宇泰先生著, title on cover-leaf and in the central margins Lüli jianshi 律例箋釋, title at the head of the chapters Da Ming lü fuli, with 1397 imperial preface to the Ming Code, self-preface by Wang Kentang (1612), memorial of presentation of the 1585 Penal Code by Shu Hua 舒化 and Geng Dingxiang 耿定向; with Shenxing shuo (q.v.) appended, with preface by Wang Kentang (1612), and Lü Kun’s Xingjie, with postfaces by Zou Yuanbiao 鄒元標 (1592) and Wang Kentang (1612). [Beitu] [*Beida] [Shanghai shehui kexue yuan] [*Ōki (base TBka)] [Zhejiang]
Call Numberoki B3800900
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