Metropolitan Civil Examination Records from the Sixth Year of the Hongzhi Reign (1493)


This is a collection of civil examination records in two juan, in four volumes, dated the sixth year (1493) of the Hongzhi reign (1488–1505). The civil examination system in China 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 examinations and receiving appointments. In return, they supported and strengthened the imperial and social structure. Together with the imperial court, they also influenced the curriculum and the educational requirements 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, examination topics, and the names and ranks of such officials 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 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 names two chief examiners  for 1493: Li Dongyang (1447–1516), a literary author and calligrapher who held many posts, including that of the secretary of the Bureau of Rites; and Lu Jian (1442–95), a reader of the imperial Hanlin Academy. Li Dongyang wrote the preface.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information



Title in Original Language


Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

2 juan in 4 volumes

Last updated: September 29, 2014