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Unless otherwise specified, the descriptions of sources in this section are extracted from Pierre-Etienne Will and collaborators, Handbooks and Anthologies for Officials in Imperial China: A Descriptive and Critical Bibliography, 2 vols., Leiden: Brill, 2020
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TitleLongjin fengsui pan 龍筋鳳髓判 [Dragon-Sinews and Phoenix-Marrow Decisions]
Topic2.3 Judicial cases: historical casebooks
Historical periodAntique and Medieval period
Reprint (year of)2005
AuthorZhang zhuo 張鷟
CollectionLidai panli pandu 歷代判例判牘
Number of volume1
Place of publication北京
Publication typePrint

The title “Quintessential Decisions” has been proposed. Although the work has been described as the earliest known complete collection of officially approved judicial cases, only the names being fictitious (see intro. to Lidai panli pandu ed.), it is in fact a collection of fictitious cases written as examination models, “writing decisions” (書判) being an important test for selecting officials through the quanxuan 銓選 procedure during the Tang—and indeed, in this kind of usage, a form of literary writing (文章). The pan in the Tang were “decisions,” or even “opinions,” in the general sense, i.e., dealing with difficult or dubious administrative cases of any sort. Therefore only part of the cases in the present work are of a judicial nature; others deal with administrative discipline, and still others are essentially policy proposals set in the form of memorials. The entries are arranged according to a list of about 50 civilian and military departments and offices belonging to the central government and imperial palace, starting with the grand secretariat (中書省) and ending with the bureau of gardens (勾盾署; the case is usually lacking for this last entry, though not in the two Beiping Mf. copies; the 1504 ed. announces two cases but has only one); there is either 1 or 2 entries per category (the numbers of cases and of administrative units differ slightly according to the edition, see above for examples). The “cases” concern either the mistakes or crimes of officials belonging to the institutions cited, or problems having arisen within their jurisdictions. Each entry features a short presentation of the problem at hand, followed by the text itself, set in flowery parallel-sentence style (駢文) and laden with literary and historical allusions. In the Liu Yunpeng recension, which was used for most subsequent eds., an abundance of explanatory notes are inserted in the text; likewise, the historical origin of each institution and its nature under the Tang are explained in a footnote at the beginning of each category. In the eyes of the Siku commentators, Hong Mai’s 洪邁 criticism in an entry of his Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆, to the effect that Zhang Zhuo is accumulating stories rather than deciding on punishment and discussing the law, is unjustified inasmuch as the work was composed for the sake of literary allusions, not of “established law” (本為隸事而作,不為定律而作). The commentators also remark that, whereas the early Song literary anthology Wenyuan yinghua 文苑英華 contains many such model judgments from the Tang period (its pan section runs j. 503-552), they are mostly unsigned; the only attributed collections are those by Zhang Zhuo and Bai Juyi (see under Baidao pan), the former emphasizing stylistic elegance (縟麗) and the latter, fluency (流利). (The bibliographical chapter of Xin Tangshu, 60/1618, lists three more titles, however, two of which are titled Baidao pan.)

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