Zhejiang Provincial Civil Examination Records


This book is a collection of civil examination records from Zhejiang Province, dated the eighth year of the Zhengde reign (1513) of the Ming dynasty. The civil examination system in China officially began in the first half of the seventh century and continued with various modifications until its abolition in 1905 in the late Qing dynasty. Its purpose was to train and select qualified officials to form an efficient bureaucracy to administer the vast nation under the emperor. The system was designed to reward merit in any male candidate, rather than social or political connections or wealth. However, sons of gentry and wealthy merchants, the “elites,” were disproportionately successful in passing the exams and receiving appointments. In return, they supported and strengthened the imperial and social structure. Together with the imperial court, they also influenced the curriculum for the civil examinations, which presented difficulties for the lower classes. The primary resources contained in these published civil examination records of the Ming and Qing dynasties shed light on the educational, cultural, social, and political aspects of the times. These records often contain a preface, exam topics, and the names and ranks of the officials in different roles for the examination, such as examiners, supervisors, invigilators, collectors, copyists, proofreaders, and suppliers. The examinations were held at different levels, from local, prefectural, provincial, and metropolitan, to the highest palace level. The syllabus ranged from classical Confucian studies, such as Si shu (the Four Books), to economy, statecraft, literature and poetry, governance, national defense, history, law, military matters, natural studies, agriculture, and customs. In late imperial China, the examination system provided entry to official appointments. This work has one juan in two volumes. The two chief examiners in 1513 were Chen Long, a Confucian instructor from Fuzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province, who also wrote the preface, and Lin Shiming, also an instructor from Shandong Province. The work contains a list of successful candidates.

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1 juan in 2 volumes

Last updated: September 29, 2014