Gazing South of the River by Li Jing, Duke of Wei


Li Wei Gong wang jiang nan (Gazing south of the river by Li Jing, Duke of Wei) was a work attributed to Li Jing (571−649). Li Jing, courtesy name Yaoshi, a native of Sanyuan, Yongzhou (in present-day Shaanxi), was a famous military strategist and general at the end of the Sui (581−618) and the beginning of the Tang (618−907). He also had considerable literary ability. He was posthumously bestowed the title of duke of Wei and was known historically as Duke Li of Wei. Li was the author of numerous military treatises, many of which are now lost. This text was written in ci verse, and Wang jiang nan (Gazing south of the river) in the title refers to one of the tunes used in ci poems. This copy is a facsimile edition, in two juan, and two volumes. It lacks pagination. At the front is the original preface of Li Jing, written on the day before the middle of autumn, in the seventh year (633) of the Zhenguan reign of the Tang, in which the author pointed out that since ancient times military leaders relied first on strategy and second on adapting to changing circumstances. Li assembled important and abstruse military strategies and divination practices from various schools of military knowledge, from Emperor Huang-di, family name Kung sun, to the Han and Jin histories. Students of his works were taught to practice and recite, make prognoses, face enemies, and use military force suitably. The postscript was written by Liu Xun (861−925) in the third year (917) of the Zhenming reign of the Later Liang (907−23); a note in smaller characters states that he wrote the postscript after reading Bai yuan qi shu (Strange book of the white gibbon), a military divination book in ci verse. An inscription at the end of the postscript indicates that Liu Xun was a famous general during the Later Liang, who received this work as a present from an old peasant during the war against the state of Jin, one of the Five Dynasties (907−60). Liu Xun praises Li Wei Gong wang jiang nan as “the most remarkable” work he has ever read. Juan 1 has 14 small chapters, which discuss military appointments; wind divinations; and prognostication by clouds, vapors, fog, rosy clouds, rainbows, rain, thunders, sky, sun, moon, stars, and the Big Dipper. The wind divinations were considered of the utmost importance. Juan 2 consists of 16 chapters on divinations by earth, trees, bees, rats, snakes, beasts, aquatic animals, birds, strange phenomena, sacrificial offerings to exorcise evils, dreams, Zhou yi (a collection of divination texts and commentaries), Taiyi (a concept of Chinese cosmology), da liu ren (six yang waters technique), medical formulas, and medical formulas for horses. Under the heading of Juan 2 is a notation that reads: edited by Ha Feng’a, the Manchu regional military commander of Liangzhou, Gansu. The work contains seal impressions, including “Nuo lü zhi yin” (Seal of Nuolü), square-shaped with characters in white; “Min zhai zhen wan” (Minzhai’s treasure), square-shaped with characters in red; “Xing yun liu shui” (Floating clouds and flowing water), rectangular-shaped with characters in red; and “Yang tian da xiao” (Throw back my head to laugh loud), square-shaped with characters in white. The complete text of this edition is presented here.

Last updated: October 29, 2015