July 31, 2012

Guizhou Provincial Civil Examination Records

This is a collection of Guizhou provincial civil examination records dated the 25th year (1546) 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 held at different levels, from local, prefectural, provincial, and metropolitan, to the highest palace palace level. The syllabus ranged from classical 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 Guizhou examiners in 1546, both of whom were prefects during the Jiajing reign, were Mao Yi, a Confucian instructor from Meizhou, Sichuan Province, and Yu Shaofang, also an instructor from Lianjiang Xian, Fuzhou Fu, Fujian Province. Mao Yi wrote the preface; Yu Shaofang wrote the postscript.

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.

Four Novels Vying for Glamor

During the Ming dynasty, the production of block-printed novels in workshops flourished and the earliest professional community of novelists was born. Deng Zhimo, who lived in the late 16th century–early 17th century, the main author of this work, was known for a series of Daoist novels with themes such as the immortals, and for his novels in a genre called Zheng qi xiao shuo (Novels vying for glamor). The distinguishing themes of these novels, which Deng’s works epitomized, included birds and flowers, mountains and waters, wind and the moon, young boys and pretty girls, vegetables, plums and snow, and tea and wine. The stories often had two objects contesting each other. The format of these novels can be traced back to the Sui and Tang periods, as well as to story-telling performances of folk literature. Also known by his style name Baizhuosheng (Student of Great Modesty), Deng Zhimo was a tutor at the school founded by the Yu family of printers in Jianyang, Fujian Province. They printed a great number of popular reading materials and published and republished many of Deng’s writings. The earliest three-juan edition of Deng’s Si zhong zheng qi (Four novels vying for glamor), which is on birds and flowers, was printed at the workshop of Cuiqing Tang, belonging to the Yu family. This expanded edition was printed by Chunyu Tang, during the Tianqi reign (1621–27), when Deng was about 65 years old. It has 12 juan, in 12 volumes. The original three juan on birds and flowers are followed by three juan on young boys and pretty girls, three juan on wind and the moon, and three juan on vegetables. The work is a collection of poetry, prose, and short stories, in various forms, such as ci (a form of classical Chinese poetry), fu (prose poems), and lian ju (quatrains), often with names of song tunes attached to the verses. These are mostly Deng’s own compositions, which are in a lively and popular style, although he also quoted poems and songs by some famous authors. One preface was written by Zhang Tianzuo, a fellow member of a society to which Deng belonged.

Gazetteer of Yicheng

Gazetteers provide in-depth information and sources for the study of Chinese history, geography, local economy, culture, language and dialects, biographies, as well as the administration of local government at a given period. This local gazetteer of Yicheng County, Shanxi Province, in 12 juan, in six volumes, is one of the many editions issued over the centuries, beginning with the Jiajing reign (1522–66) and continuing until the Republican period in 1920s. Yicheng was famed for its rich history, culture, art, and trade. Among its famous natives was the mother of the Wanli Emperor (1563–1620), who had great influence over her son, as he was only ten years old when he ascended to the throne. This gazetteer is a Ming edition of the Wanli period, with supplements added during the Qing dynasty. The chief author of the main work was Cui Ruxiu (died 1621), who achieved his jin shi degree in 1607 and was the magistrate of Yicheng in 1607–9. The compiler was Shi Xueqian, a fellow magistrate. The Qing dynasty supplement was compiled by Shangguan Li (1611–83), also a native of Yicheng and an official during the early Qing dynasty. It was supplemented further and issued in 1608 by Hu Xianyao, a magistrate of Yicheng during the Shunzhi period (1644–61). This edition includes prefaces by four different authors: Lei Sipei, a Hanlin Academy member and poet; Shi Xueqian; Hu Xianyao, whose preface is dated 1657; and Shangguan Li. A postscript was written by Cui Ruxiu. The seal impression reads: Yu han shan fang cang shu (Ma Guohan’s Collection), which was the seal of the collection of Ma Guohan (1794–1857), a scholar and bibliophile, and the prefect of Longzhou, Shaanxi Province.

Memorials from Luo Shan

Luo Shan zou shu (Memorials from Luo Shan) is a collection written by Zhang Fujing (1475–1539), whose original name was Zhang Cong. The pronunciation of Cong was the same as that of Emperor Jiajing’s personal name, so Zhang was given the name of Fujing. Zhang received his jin shi degree at the age of 47 after a number of attempts. He rose quickly in government service, becoming grand secretary of the Imperial Library and, within six years of beginning his career as an official, grand cabinet secretary. Zhang Fujing was granted the posthumous title of Wenzhong. Emperor Jiajing was the former Emperor Zhengde’s cousin. His father was the Prince of Xingxian, the fourteenth son of Emperor Zhenghua (reigned 1465–1487). Traditionally if a new emperor was not an immediate descendant of the previous one, he would have to be adopted his predecessor, to maintain an unbroken line. So Jiajing’s proposal not to be adopted posthumously by the previous emperor, but to have his own father declared emperor posthumously, was resisted by many of his officials. But he prevailed, and hundreds of his opponents were banished, physically beaten, or executed. Zhang Fujing took the emperor’s side and in several of his memorials mentioned the Tang emperor Zhongzong as a precedent and expounded on the relationship between a father, a son, and an uncle. This work is a printed edition from the early to mid-16th century and is of seven juan, in five volumes, and one juan of appendices. It is a collection of Zou dui gao (Drafts of memorials), as opposed to the author’s other known work, Yu dui lu, a collection of secret imperial edicts and memorials referring to these edicts issued in 34 juan during the sixth to 15th years of the Jiajing reign (1527–36). The present work contains only about a third of Yu dui lu. Yang He (died 1635), a censor and military official, found Yu dui lu too long, so he selected for this collection only memorials dated 1521–36. The handwritten inscription on the cover of the book is most likely that of Fu Zengxiang (1872–1949), director of the Palace Museum Library and a famed bibliophile with a 200,000-volume personal library. This work may have been in Fu’s collection, but no seal impressions of his library can be found in the book.

Miscellaneous Works of Zou Deyong

The author of this work was Zou Deyong, a native of Anfu, Jiangxi Province, grandson of Zou Shouyi (1491–1562). The elder Zou was one of the exponents of the school of Wang Yangming, the Neo-Confucian philosopher, who was a leading figure in Ming Neo-Confucianism and a proponent of education. After receiving his jin shi degree in 1616, Zou Deyong served as a censor and later as supervisor of censors at the Bureau of Revenue and the Bureau of Rites. He later was removed from office for displeasing the emperor by trying to help a fellow official. He returned to his hometown and, following the scholarly tradition of his family and his father’s teachings on Confucianism, renovated a school called Fu gu shu yuan (Academy of Restoration of Ancient Ways). This work, Zou Deyong za zhu (Miscellaneous works of Zou Deyong), has 12 essays with individual titles, and an additional juan with a table of contents, compiled by an unknown person. The essays, such as Sheng men lü ling (Laws and decrees for Confucian disciples), contain Zou Deyong’s notes, observations, and thoughts. The collector’s seal impression reads: Ji gu zhai cang shu (Books in the Jiguzhai Collection).