Heroes Return to the Truth


This 1861 work was published during the Taiping Rebellion, a vast political and religious revolt against the Qing dynasty of China that lasted for more than ten years. Very few books were produced in that period, thus publications from that era are rare. The chief author of this work was He Chunfa, minister of the bureau of punishments in the court of Gan Wang (Shield King), a title bestowed by Hong Xiuquan (1813–64), the Taiping leader, to Hong Rengan (1822–64), one of his cousins. In 1851, Hong Xiuquan established Taiping Tianguo (the Celestial Kingdom of Great Peace) in parts of China the Taipings controlled and took the title of Celestial King. After Hong Rengan joined the Taipings in 1859, he quickly gained high positions, including generalissimo, prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and later regent of Hong Xiuquan’s young son. In his youth, Hong Rengan was a schoolteacher and later learned Western culture and Christian teachings in Shanghai and in Hong Kong. He was the chief compiler of three books, one of which is this booklet, printed at his court. The work has its original cover and book label, on which the title is given: Qin ding ying jie gui zhen (Heroes return to the truth, issued by imperial order). The smaller characters on the right of the title page indicate that it was issued by the “Prime Minister and Generalissimo Shield King,” and the four characters on the left read: “Issued by Imperial order.” The smallest characters on the top of the page read: “Newly printed in the xinyou year [1861] of our Father, Brother and King of Celestial Kingdom of Great Peace.” The work proclaims the revolutionary thought of the Taipings. Its purpose is clearly outlined in the preface: to call on heroes and prominent figures to believe in truth and to help the world. It was said that the authors, who were present when Hong Rengan gave audience to visitors, took careful notes of his bao xun (precious teachings) and put them in the book. It takes the form of a dialogue between Hong Rengan and a deserter from the Manchu camp, with Hong expounding upon various Taiping systems of etiquette and propriety and affirming that one must know that the motion of the celestial body is the order of nature. The book, in one juan, has very high research value.

Last updated: January 3, 2018