Yunnan Provincial Civil Examination Materials


This work is a collection of Yunnan provincial civil examination records, in one juan and four volumes, dated the 34th year (1555) of the Jiajing reign (1522–66) of the Ming dynasty. 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, 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 set 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. The two chief Yunnan examiners in 1555 were Wang Wengong, a county magistrate, who also wrote the preface, and Wei Kexue, who wrote the postscript.

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1 juan in 4 volumes

Last updated: September 29, 2014