443 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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TitleChengui 臣軌 [Rules for Ministers]
Topic4.1 Magistrates handbooks: General
Historical periodAntique and Medieval period
AuthorEmpress Wu Zetian 武則天
CollectionGuanzhen shu jicheng 官箴書集成
Number of volume1
Publication typeWoodblock

Admonitions to the bureaucracy composed in the name of the Tang empress Wu Zetian. The text, which quotes heavily (if not always accurately) from a variety of ancient works, is composed of ten sections (zhang 章): “Making one body with the ruler” (同體), “Attaining loyalty” (至忠), “Maintaining the Way” (守道), “Public spirit and justice” (公正), “Righteous criticism” (匡諫), “Sincerity and trustworthiness” (誠信), “Cautiousness” (慎密), “Integrity” (廉潔), “Being a good general” (良將), and “Benefitting the people” (利人). Each sentence is followed by a short explanatory comment; the author of the comments is not known. There is an undated, “imperially written” (禦撰) pref., and a final “discussion” (論) that seem to be at least in part from the empress’s own hand. The date of composition has been said to be 685 (date in Japanese copies) or 693 (when it became a prescribed examination text, cited in Tang huiyao); Twitchett (see below) favors 685, if not earlier, noting that the so-called Scholars of the Northern Gate (北門學士), the text’s “putative authors,” had all died in the 680s after incurring the empress’s disfavor. In his words, Chengui appears to be “part of a larger program of prescriptive texts [produced by that group in the name of Wu Zetian] providing models of appropriate conduct for various groups in Tang society.” While the text had been lost in China since the Yuan period at the latest, it circulated continuously in Japan, where it was part of the scholarly curriculum. The modern Chinese editions are all based on Japanese copies; the first of these acquired from Japan was a movable-type ed. (possibly the one edited by Hayashi) described by Ruan Yuan 阮元 in his Siku quanshu weishou shumu (1822). Also note the fact that among numerous works attributed to Wu Zetian but now lost was a text titled Bailiao xinjie 百僚新誡, in 5 j.

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