An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

zuo-za 佐雜, subofficial functionaries

Oct 17, 2017 © Ulrich Theobald

Zuo-za 佐雜 was a general term for subofficial posts during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), i.e. offices commonly held by unranked subofficial functionaries (li 吏) on the level of districts and prefectures. It is an aggregation of the terms zuo'er 佐貳, shouling 首領, and zazhi 雜職.

The term zuo'er was also used for officials of the local administration that were in a secondary position, such as assistant prefect (tongpan 通判), department vice magistrate (zhoutong 州同) or assistant magistrate (xiancheng 縣丞), but also low functionaries like police officers (xunjian 巡檢) or clerks (dianli 典史).

It was first used in the Jurchen Jin empire 金 (1115-1234) and denoted positions like vice prefect (tongzhi 同知), assistant commissioner (qianyuan 簽院), vice commissioner (fushi 副使), vice governor (shaoyin 少尹), controller-general (tongpan 通判) or aide (cheng 丞).

In the central administration in Beijing, the term zazhi was used for functions like recorder (zhubu 主簿) and usher (xuban 序班) of government institutions or commissioner-in-chief (dashi 大使), while in the local administration, the term denoted overseers of the warehouses, granaries, tax collectors, prison warders, heads of courier stations, lock keepers or heads of port authorities.

Other terms to denote the ranks of subofficial functionaries without an official rank were zaliu 雜流 or wei ru liu 未入流.

Lü Zongli 呂宗力, ed. (1994). Zhongguo lidai guanzhi da cidian 中國歷代官制大辭典(Beijing: Beijing chubanshe), 434.