Survey of the Nine Borders of the Ming Dynasty


The author of this important work on the history and geography of the Ming dynasty, Wei Huan, received his jin shi degree in 1529, and took up a number of posts. He wrote the work during the time when he was a secretary of the Bureau of Military Organization of the Regions. During the Jiajing reign of the Ming dynasty (1522‒66), there was military tension between China and the Mongols. A number of officials began to write about the northern frontiers, based on important records, archives, and intelligence reports gathered at the Ministries of War and Revenue, as well as on memorials and works by other Ming authors, and on these officials’ own experiences. Even after their success in breaking the Mongols’ hold on China, the Chinese remained vigilant about the constant threat on the northern frontiers. The government established the so-called nine borders at Liaodong, Jizhou, Xuanfu, Datong, Shanxi, Yulin, Ningxia, Guyuan, and Gansu in present-day Shanxi, Gansu, and Ningxia Provinces. The work first gives an overview of the “nine borders,” with ten maps, followed by descriptions of each of the nine locations. It contains ample details on historical background, geographical features and territories, and distances between the towers, passes, and post stages. Other subjects covered include protection of the frontiers, troops, tax revenues, tribes on the frontiers, and planning and controlling of the borders. Wei Huan’s work was well received by his contemporaries and was generally accepted by later authors. The significance of the work was the combination of text with maps. It was a Jiajing edition, probably dating from around 1541‒44, as the original date of publication was 1541. This copy has a 1542 date, and it was later rebound and collated.

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10 juan, 8 volumes

Last updated: January 10, 2018